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BOSTON (CBS) – Civic involvement is crucial to our way of life in so many ways, and with voter participation in elections often lagging well below the fifty percent mark, anything we can do to motivate more people to vote is a good thing.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
I was pretty sure the answer was yes until I received an announcement from the folks at MTV that they’re teaming up with an array of political partners to launch “Fantasy Election ’12,” a “first-of-its-kind desktop and mobile game [which] will give young people a new way to hold presidential and congressional candidates accountable, and reward youth for getting involved in [the election].”
Here’s how it works:
Just as with fantasy football or baseball, the “Fantasy Election ‘12” player will select a team of candidates for high office, compiling or losing points based on how they perform in real life.
The game will “reward candidates for exhibiting behaviors voters deserve, and penalize politicians for behaviors that hurt our democracy.”
Here’s where the partners come in.
Candidates who respond to issue questionnaires from Project Vote Smart win points; if your candidate rises in the polls as tracked by RealClearPolitics.com, you will earn points as well; and so on, with bonus points awarded to the young players for registering to vote and taking knowledge tests.
I get what they’re trying to do here, and I award points for good intentions.
But elections aren’t video games, or at least, they shouldn’t be.
I’m skeptical of the connection between polling success or filling out questionnaires and worthiness for office.
It’s great to have young voters involved, but they need to think about their own values and observations of how political power affects them before they vote.
If all they bring to the table are the standards of others and the thrill of video-game competition, I think I’d rather they sit it out.
Real life isn’t a fantasy league. Turning it into one seems like a recipe for civic activism that needs more time in the oven before it’s ready to serve.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.