Early and Often is an expression of American civic responsibility and the voting process. It is both a video game and a “voting booth” installation designed for a festival setting. This project investigates the psychology of voting with the intent to shed light on voter apathy, especially among younger generations, and celebrates elections as ephemeral but highly anticipated and influential cultural events.
At the beginning of the festival, the video game component appears unfinished and impossibly difficult to complete, but offers players the opportunity to vote on an initiative (e.g. a new game mechanic) that will impact future playthroughs. At the booth, players may then cast their vote in person (via paper ballot) or by “mail” (via Twitter or other app/site). Voting occurs regularly each hour for that hour, outstanding votes are tallied on our server, and the outcome is instantaneously incorporated into the video game.
This structure reflects key aspects of voting processes in the United States from registration, to sharing and debating with others, to making an informed decision, before following through on that decision. These steps have all been identified as pain points for those who don’t vote in America.
Because it is realized in a festival setting, Early and Often allows for, and encourages, community, “activism” and collective action, and explores short-sighted vs far-sighted decision making, living with the results, and potentially, voter regret. Thus, Early and Often captures the excitement and anticipation of elections, which are really just fleeting moments of action with long-lasting impact, and demonstrates the power and persuasion of the game designer to make those connections.