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Gov. Ventura Plans Video Game Pitch

by Rainier on April 26, 2002 @ 9:24 p.m. PDT

Gov. Jesse Ventura may soon become more animated than ever. Ventura's campaign committee, credited in 1998 with its effective use of the Internet as a campaign tool, is again exploring how to break new ground — this time through interactive campaign-themed video games. Thanks HomeLan
Forget the standard glossy leaflets most candidates send out. The games, on CDs or DVDs or posted on Ventura's Web site, would feature the former professional wrestler, presumably touting his political accomplishments and putting the heat on his opponents.

"There's no shortage of material for a number of games," said Phil Madsen, treasurer of the Jesse Ventura Volunteer Committee.

The Ventura game — or collection of games — would be entertaining, 100 percent political and distributed free to voters as campaign literature, he said. While the games are just in the talking stage, Madsen described what might emerge as "an ongoing political cartoon."

First, though, there's a potential legal hurdle: Would the games be considered campaign literature or gifts? Minnesota law prohibits a campaign from giving most gifts to voters.

Madsen has asked the state's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board for an opinion, but board members said this week that the gift clause doesn't appear to fall under their jurisdiction. It's unclear, exactly, what group might have jurisdiction.

In the meantime, the video game idea is still in its talking stages, and Ventura hasn't yet been approached with the suggestion.

The governor has said he won't decide whether he'll run until the July candidate filing period, but Madsen said he wants to be ready just in case.

"I'd much rather be prepared for a campaign that doesn't happen than to be unprepared for one that does," he said.

Joseph Turow, professor of communications at the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, said the use of video games is a logical next step in the integration of politics and entertainment.

"In a crowded media environment, breaking through is what you need to do," he said. "If you can break through, particularly if they're younger voters or unaffiliated voters, it's terrific."

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