Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

The Halo Effect

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At this point in the game, the election is entirely about voter turnout. In such a close race even the tiniest change could tip the scales in either direction.

So what happens if one of Obama’s major bases, the youth, is too busy playing video games to vote?

We might find out next Tuesday, Halo 4‘s launch date.

Obama’s popularity with young voters was crucial to his victory in 2008. His viral marketing and change-oriented campaigning created a much higher turnout among voters between ages 18-30. His recent college tours through Iowa, for example, show he is still counting on this vote to bring him a second term.

But what will happen if on election day young voters are too distracted by Halo to bother voting?

Now, before you laugh off the notion of a video game affecting politics, look a few facts: The entire Halo franchise has made nearly 50 million sales. That’s almost 3 billion dollars in revenue over the past decade. According to videogamer.com, Halo: Reach, the most recent original Halo game, generated more than $200 million in sales in the US and Europe in just 24 hours, which was more than all previous 2010 US entertainment launches, including Iron Man 2.

The Examiner noted the affect of other video games on productivity, noting that 25% of gamers took time off from work or called in sick to play the game Modern Warfare 3 when it was released. More than that, they noted that each sale might not equate to one person, but rather to one household or dorm room consisting of several voters each.

Unfortunately for Obama, the Halo demographic is one of his major voting blocks. Now imagine, would someone who buys this highly-anticipated game rather spend the day waiting in line to vote, or playing this long-awaited game?

Perhaps this is all a major conspiracy between Romney and Microsoft, the game’s developer. The fact that they contributed more to Obama’s campaign in 2008 would indicate otherwise. More than likely it is just a publicity stunt. Still, even for a stunt, the effects could be far-reaching.

Getting the youth to go out and vote has traditionally been a tough mountain to climb. This year Obama hasn’t had the same level of enthusiasm from that voting block, and now they have an incentive to stay home on November 6th. Capturing the young vote is going to be like climbing a steeper mountain with more weight on his back.

Though perhaps not a major sway, the “Halo Effect” might be just enough to put a decisive crack in Obama’s chances.

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