Gerrymandering is a form of redistricting in which electoral district or constituency boundaries are manipulated for an electoral advantage. You can read the rest of the Wikipedia article here. Or you can play the Redistricting Game by the University of Southern California’s Game Innovation Lab – another perfect example of how the simulational nature of digital games enables them to explain complex political processes like no other medium. And this is finallycomes to politicians' attention:
The Redistricting Game, playable online, was recently shown to members of Congress by Rep. John Tanner (D-TN). Tanner realizes that his colleagues are unlikely to be swayed from the practice, which is less politely known as gerrymandering. The Tennessee Democrat told NPR’s Andrea Seabrook:You’re asking people - and I realize this - to give up an awful lot of power.Seabrook added:Maybe if voters play The Redistricting Game and have fun gaming the system themselves, they’ll see how the system is gaming them and then maybe they’ll demand change.
The game allows to you to enact different forms of gerrymandering (The Fundamentals, Partisan Gerrymander, Bipartisan Gerrymander, Voting Rights Act, Reform) in a basic or advanced setting. To ensure that the perceived information really gets across the game sets the mechanics in a real-world context by providing background information and quotes for every form of redistricting as well as links to websites and reports dealing with the issue – a crucial yet sometimes neglected component of every serious game. As Norm Ornstein from American Enterprise Institute explains of the game's website:
"It is not easy to make the redistricting process understandable -- and near-miraculous to be able to do so in a highly entertaining way. But that is just what The Redistricting Game does, to the gratitude of all who want Americans to understand how this process is working, and why it needs real reform."
This high-profile political example is another step towards the realisation of the full potential of digital games and its accompanying enhancement of public valuation. Maybe it can also serve as an inspiration for campaigning games which not only can explain complicated issues and policies in an easily accesible way but also reach a young, rather unpolitical demographic in a more effective (and cheaper) way than traditional media.