Video Games, Internet Sites Going Political

Chase says that as a campaign manager with a candidate like George H.W. Bush, you might not schedule a lot of news conferences, but with a candidate like Bill Clinton, you'd plan on a lot of effective campaign events.

Chase insists he's not trying to make it something it's not.

"I have no pretense of being able to educate people," he said. "I'm a game designer, and I just try to make people think. And make them think about the political process."

It's not just games, either.

Social-networking sites have also played politics this election season, hoping to carve out sections of the market as their own.

Last month, -- a 2½-year-old online social-networking enterprise initially popularized by the college crowd and now 10 million strong -- announced an "Election Pulse" page designed to provide a detailed rundown of the gubernatorial and congressional races as well as state-by-state analysis of how each candidate polled among Facebook users.

Registered users can search for candidates, follow highlighted races, join campaign issue groups, link to photos of candidates from their own pages, and even post comments on the Facebook profiles of candidates they support.

"You have my vote and best of luck, sir," says one Facebook commenter on Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos' page. "Michigan needs change and you're the man for the job."

Another commenter, on Pennsylvania Democratic senatorial candidate Bob Casey's Facebook page, simply says: "Please win!"

The "Election Pulse" ran as part of's Election 2006 Network.

In an effort to include every congressional and gubernatorial race in the country, Facebook populated the Election 2006 Network with 1,400 profiles ultimately distributed to the various campaigns.

At last count, about 300 of the campaigns had taken over managing their own profiles, updating them with information that the Facebook crowd might want to know about their favorite candidates.

For this election cycle, MTV's Rock the Vote has partnered with Facebook's Election 2006 Network, having had a successful run with in a similar venture in 2004.

Hans Riemer, Rock the Vote's Washington-based political director, says that the sheer volume of voter-registration forms that were downloaded from its Web site during the last cycle proved that ventures like these in new media is not to be ignored.

"Someone isn't going to win the 2008 presidential election by having a page on Facebook," Riemer said. "But they might have thousands of volunteers. And there are uses for it like that, that are very effective."

"The overall trend that civic participation is rising and that new technologies have something to do with it," Riemer continues, "Breaking down the barriers to get people involved is working."

In Facebook's most recent measure, more than 1 million registered users have so far engaged in the Election 2006 Network -- either supporting a candidate or a campaign issue group.

Two years away from the next presidential election, the voice, direction and creativity of this emerging demographic could go any number of directions as it embraces its right to assemble online in a digital world that mixes and remixes humor, current events and political action.

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