This work brings together the fields of political communications and games studies, in order to facilitate novel analysis methods for post-broadcast democracies and the digital citizens that inhabit them. Following the process of mediatization, in which the dominant media exerts “moulding forces” over the socio-cultural spheres in which it resides, the author suggests that digital games are a growing component in mediatization, as part of the overall development of the ludification of culture. Consequently, this work implements play and games studies theoretical framework in order to explain how political engagement is shifting from the ideological to the casual, how politicians use game-like mechanics in their campaigns to influence and engage audiences and how the gaming skills of the younger generation are applied also to navigating public battlefields rather than only virtual ones.
I dub these new forms of engagement “casual politicking”, as it prioritizes non-committing and mundane actions facilitated through the amalgamation of digital devices and social practices arising from ICT and games culture. I suggest looking into Jesper Juul’s (2010) work into casual games’ interfaces for cues on how to envision future methods of political communications. Such forms are dependent on actions more than words, evoking and harnessing impulsive bursts of productivity that serves certain issues, utilizing technological interfaces and social connectedness of users.
In the context of citizen science, we can examine how the ludic interfaces of political digital platforms allow for public mobilization and cultivation of continuous engagement. Thus, we can evaluate those emerging methods critically, accounting for their benefits as well as problematics.
Alex is a recent honors graduate of Utrecht’s University New Media and Digital Culture MA program, where he focused on bringing together frameworks from political communication alongside play and game theories. Previously graduating with honors from IDC Hertzliya (Israel) with a BA in communications, his media experienced includes journalism, games, web entrepreneurship and PR.