Last night, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) headlined a "get out the vote" stream. In partnering with fellow legislator Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Twitch streamers like Pokimane and Hasan Piker, Ocasio-Cortez drew a significant number of viewers for what ended up being a very entertaining session of Among Us.
It started a couple days ago on Oct. 19, when Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about putting together an Among Us stream on Twitch to boost awareness and voter turnout. Just about every notable Twitch streamer showed immediate interest, and it wasn't long until a crew was announced.
Last night, Ocasio-Cortez went live on Twitch with Omar and several other streamers. It was honestly a pretty good time. Ocasio-Cortez had a better layout and stream quality than I imagine most Twitch streamers had the first time they went live, and everyone involved was having a good time without dominating the comms. Also, while AOC was a focal point, Rep. Omar showed off a pretty solid, Digital Foundry-approved gaming rig. I'm incredibly envious of that cable management.
Viewers rapidly climbed, peaking at over 400,000 viewers. Add up the various channels that were also streaming, including Omar, and it had a pretty significant reach across Twitch. Among Us, the imposteor game that's recently become a mega-hit on Steam and on Twitch streams, ended up being the perfect catalyst for genuinely fun moments. At one point, streamer Pokimane was following Ocasio-Cortez, making sure she was okay and safe from possible imposters. It turns out that AOC was one of the imposters, and as Ocasio-Cortez's in-game avatar killed Pokimane's, the latter said, "It was an honor!"
The Washington Post uploaded a highlight reel of the best moments, but last night was a pretty notable moment in the overlap of politics and streaming. This wasn't Ocasio-Cortez's first time ever on Twitch; she made waves last year when she joined Harris "Hbomberguy" Brewis' charity stream supporting trans rights. (Also, Ocasio-Cortez plays League of Legends, so I like to think she's watched some LCS matches.) This was her first time hosting a stream herself, on her own Twitch channel though, and it was a stark contrast from the usual Twitch presence of a politician.
While candidates have been making use of platforms like Twitch and gaming spaces, it's mostly been in ways like airing traditional political content, like town halls or speeches. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has an Animal Crossing: New Horizons island you can visit, filled with in-game campaign signs and lots of trains.
Ocasio-Cortez's Among Us stream was a blend of actual gaming and outreach, though. There was certainly policy discussion; Brewis joined the stream and discussed differences in health care between the United States and the UK, for example. It was also a fun, engaging stream that felt more natural to the platform than hosting the usual political forum.
Whether or not this signals a great migration to Twitch for politicians is a bit of a broad question. Having representatives reach out on platforms and appealing to voter bases to get out the vote through games of Among Us, though, is pretty cool. It definitely makes them seem more human, even if it's sometimes a masquerade to hide their in-game avatar's secret imposterhood.