FarmVilleAs the 2012 election draws near, the number of safe havens from politicking is shrinking fast. Facebook was compromised nearly three years ago. Now, some of the most popular games on the social network are at risk.
Candidates and strategists have fully embraced the gamification theory, it seems — and Farmville is squarely in their sites.
Michael Hendrix, a Dallas-based consultant assisting with the Michelle Bachmann campaign, believes there are a lot of Republicans in Zynga's hit farm simulator — and he's devised a program that's designed to let them get active in the campaign.
The software, which will be released later this year, allows players to use their in-game avatars to go door-to-door at the virtual farms, campaigning for real-world candidates. Die-hards can even put yard signs up at their farms.
The Bachmann campaign is hoping to target soccer moms with the initiative. That follows a path similar to a successful Facebook campaign the candidate utilized before the Republican straw poll in Iowa. (By tracking interests, the campaign was able to place tailored ads on people's Facebook pages.)
"The majority of social gamers are stay-at-home moms over 38," noted Hendrix.
Bachmann might be the first candidate to step foot in Farmville, but she's hardly the first to utilize video games as a campaign tool. President Obama, in fact, made a big splash in the space during his run for the Oval Office.
As the 2008 election drew near, the Obama campaign took to consoles to help rally young voters. Specifically, the campaign team for the then-Senator bought in-game ads in Burnout Paradise, Madden 09 and seven other EA titles featuring his smiling face, a reminder that early voting had begun and a link to the campaign Website.
And back in 2006, ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made an appearance at a press conference in Second Life (via an avatar) as he was considering a run for the presidency. He ultimately decided against entering that race, opting instead for a Senate run, which he won.