AOC’s “Among Us” Twitch Stream: Brilliant Political Move

U.S. Democratic Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Democratic Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Jake Reyes and André González Rodríguez

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), hosted a Twitch stream of her playing the popular video game “Among Us” along with other popular Twitch streamers on Tuesday, Oct. 20.  It shattered viewing records and was one of the smartest things a politician could do.

On Oct. 19, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her 9.2 million followers to invite them to watch her play the popular video game “Among Us” while also broadcasting it on the popular streaming platform — Twitch.

“Among Us” is a video game that takes place in space, and has its players in two roles.  You are either a crew member trying to get the ship back into form and return to Earth. Or you are an impostor, which is a parasitic shape-shifting alien whose sole purpose is to sabotage the crewmembers’ plans.

With the game’s sudden surge in popularity, normal video game players and streamers — people who broadcast video games on Twitch — alike, caught wind of Ocasio-Corez’s tweet. Nearly 400,000 people liked the tweet which got Ocasio-Cortez grouped up with some of Twitch’s most popular streamers including Hasanabi, Pokimane and others, as the video game lobby holds up to ten people. Apart from the Twitch streamers, Ocasio-Cortez was also accompanied by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota democrat.

Ocasio-Cortez started her stream by encouraging her viewers to vote, and to do so before Election Day on Nov. 3. The live stream peaked at around 439,000 concurrent viewers, putting Ocasio-Cortez third on the list of all time viewership of an individual streamer. Apart from the gameplay itself, the whole stream was accompanied by lighthearted political talk – her sole purpose was to try to get the younger generation to vote.

Jake Reyes

Ocasio-Cortez is the living example of a “get to the polls” sign in front of every young person’s yard. Everytime a notable athlete, musician, or other celebrity streams a video game, it seems to also boost their popularity. When Drake and Ninja teamed up and streamed Fortnite in 2018, over 600k viewers tuned in at once (according to an article in The Verge). When it comes to young people, a lot of us have been stuck home playing video games during quarantine and look forward to events like these as it shows that even the most powerful and rich are people just like us who share similar interests in hobbies. It was the perfect move by Ocasio-Cortez to stream “among us” if you ask me.

There is an unspoken rule that politicians use to engage with voters other than just political views and plans. In an age where political polarity is at a high point of divide according to Pew Research, it seems that the way to engage with voters nowadays is not with bipartisanship or policies, but with entertainment. Sounds crazy right? Don’t get me wrong, half of it is policy of course, but think about who your president is right now. Many Republicans share the same views as President Donald Trump from the 2016 Republican Party presidential debates. However, why did he come out on top instead of the favorite Jeb Bush? It was simply because of his charisma. Even during his presidential rallies in 2016, Trump would do things just to get people to chant with him.  Remember “lock her up?”  Trump even urged a crowd to chant “turn off the lights” after the power went out at one of his rallies and someone had turned it back on. This was solely for entertainment and not by any means political.

Democrats and Republicans can use some of Ocasio-Cortez strategies to appeal to young people. It doesn’t mean that it solely needs to be video games, but engaging with your audience and using entertainment appeals to pathos. It is the same reason why former Vice President and Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, called President Trump a clown in the first 2020 presidential debate. It’s entertaining!

To be clear, I’m not saying that Ocasio-Cortez launching this stream was the smartest thing to do regarding policies, that’s a completely different aspect. Of course, there are going to be some critics that claim Ocasio-Cortez streaming “Among us” is ridiculous and say that there are more important things to be handled at the moment. One user even criticized with expletive words to DrLupo, another twitch streamer who joined Ocasio-Cortez, for being in a stream with a politician that the user disagrees with. That was before DrLupo delivered a barrage of expletive words to the back to the user, but the user likely endorsed the other argument that was made, “stop bringing politics into video games.” However, before you make arguments like that, think about if you work 24/7, you probably don’t. Also, do you have any downtime to just ease your mind from work? In addition, she still applied her “work” to her “downtime” in encouraging her viewers to vote. Ocasio-Cortez never encouraged any policies or candidates to endorse. She merely expressed the importance of voting. If any of the politicians these critics support were to do the same strategies, I’d ask if they would give them the same criticism.

These tactics were smart to engage young voters. Like it or not, young people are the future of the United States of America, and their perpetual low voter turnout is something that politicians should take the initiative to act upon. When you have Valencia College students like Dylan Guerrero, a registered independent voter say, “I saw the stream, and it encouraged me to go out to vote. It’s cool how some politicians do stuff that us regular people do as well. It’s something we can relate to,” these strategies clearly engage even neutral party voters, and are the harbinger of higher voter turnout among young people in the country.

André González Rodríguez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doing what she did was absolutely amazing and smart. She is already pretty popular with the younger generation — as she’s cultivated that really well — so doing this allowed her to cement herself in that spot even more. Prior to this “Among Us” stream, Ocasio-Cortez made numerous tweets talking about her “League of Legends” gameplay and rank. “League of Legends” is one of the more popular multiplayer online games in the world, in which five players battle against five other players in hopes to destroy the other team’s “nexus” — a core in the base. Whoever destroys the opposing team’s nexus, wins.

But going back to the “Among Us” stream, her teaming up with eight other popular streamers such as Pokimane, Hasanabi, Myth, and others, was a brilliant idea. It all felt organic and genuine.  Apart from her wanting and encouraging her viewers to vote, it didn’t feel forced at all. She complimented well with the other people playing with her and most of all, it was all entertaining.

She was even able to encourage Myth, a popular Twitch streamer with 2.3 million Twitter followers to go out and vote.

“It was nice playing with @AOC tonight! Thank you all for coming out and watching,” Myth said in a tweet after being one of the people who got to play with Ocasio-Cortez. “Remember to vote this election as well. This election is my first time voting and it’s super easy to do so do it,” he added.

We hope to see more politicians follow in Ocasion-Cortez’s footsteps as the organic connection streamers make with their fans can benefit them in the long run to their cause. Not only does it help encourage the younger generation to vote, it gets them genuinely interested in politics — something everyone should be involved in. We also encourage politicians to not only express their policies, but also express their humanity. As we head into a generation of young voters who decide their future, this possible connection should be utilized as another form of gaining traction.