Rock The Vote on Xbox 360Shawn Drotar

Posted on August 22nd, 2008 in Gaming, Xbox 360, News, Opinion by Shawn Drotar

This week’s press release from Microsoft reads as follows:

Xbox and Rock the Vote to Give Voters a New Platform for Change

First-of-its-kind partnership creates new ways to register to vote and jump into 2008 election.

REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 21, 2008 — A leading gaming and entertainment platform just became a leading platform for change. Microsoft Corp. and Rock the Vote today announced a groundbreaking partnership that will allow Xbox 360 owners to register to vote, participate in presidential polls and voice their opinions to the presidential candidates. It will all happen through Xbox LIVE starting Monday, Aug. 25, the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

“Xbox is a natural partner to help us reach out to youth voters,” said Heather Smith, executive director, Rock the Vote. “To realize our goal of registering 2 million young Americans by this fall, we need to go where young Americans are, and there’s no doubt in our minds that many are on Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE.”

This is the first time that Rock the Vote has joined forces with an entertainment partner such as Xbox to reach voters under 30. Xbox LIVE is the largest online social network connected to the television, with membership totaling 12 million — if Xbox LIVE were a state, it would rank as the country’s seventh largest, giving it approximately 20 electoral votes.

“The Xbox LIVE community is active, vocal and passionate,” said Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox LIVE. “We’re thrilled to partner with Rock the Vote to make it easier than ever for youth voters — and our members — to register and be heard.”

Through the Rock the Vote partnership, Xbox LIVE members will be able to register to vote, voice their opinions to the candidates through an exclusive forum and participate in potentially election-predicting polls. They will also be able to download Rock the Vote public service announcements.

Xbox also will have a presence at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, promoting the Rock the Vote partnership and educating delegates about creating a safer entertainment environment on Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE using the built-in parental controls known as Family Settings. These industry-leading settings allow parents to limit their children’s access to video games and movies and manage their activity and communications on Xbox LIVE.


All cynicism aside, voter apathy and yes, ignorance, is one of the greatest problems plaguing the United States - and at this point, any effort to improve the situation helps.

Even if, as Sean “Diddy” Combs proves in the picture above, voting isn’t necessarily “cool”, it’s awfully important nonetheless.

Rock The Vote has done an excellent job over the years streamlining the voter registration process for new voters, who often find the laws confusing, which, in turn, keeps many from even bothering to register in the first place. Extending their reach onto Xbox Live can only help, so this announced partnership doesn’t have a down side.

For Microsoft, their involvement with Rock The Vote and their presence at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Denver and St. Paul, respectively, can only forward the message that video gaming isn’t the evil that knee-jerking politicians often make it out to be. Sony and its PlayStation Network would be wise to follow Microsoft’s lead here.

Imagine the press - Mom goes downstairs to see Junior in the basement playing the Xbox 360 like he often does. But this time, when she asks what he’s playing, his answer is, “I’m not playing, Mom, I’m registering to vote this November.” No doubt, you won’t see that on Fox News - but if enough gamers do make their voices heard, who knows?

Gamers understand that in their hobby, their world is often what they make it. Fewer of them understand that it works the same way outside of the box, too.

It’s never too late to start.

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