Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar slayed last night in Among Us, a multiplayer video game that’s basically Mafia but on a spaceship. There was maniacal laughter, shocked gasps, and plenty of love all around, but the main point of the event was to convince people to please for the love of god vote.
Planning for the broadcast began the day before, on Oct. 19, with a tweet from AOC asking if anyone was interested in playing Among Us with her. Ocasio-Cortez is something of a pioneer in video game voter outreach — back in May, she visited her followers’ Animal Crossing islands, leaving messages on their in-game bulletin boards.
This time around, she had a message to spread about the importance of the election, and there were plenty of streamers ready to help.
For the uninitiated, Among Us operates by splitting players into two groups: the Crewmates and the Imposters. The Crewmates are your average little space travelers trying to maintain the ship so everyone onboard can stay alive. The Imposters mingle with the Crewmates and sabotage their work with the goal of murdering the entire crew.
Players can’t tell the difference between Crewmates and Imposters, so the Crewmates have to have meetings to debate and discuss who could be the murderer on the ship. Then, everyone casts their vote on who is a suspected Imposter. The player with the most votes gets tossed out of the ship.
This premise makes it pretty easy to slip in reminders to go out and vote, which the streamers did with an influencer enthusiasm that, occasionally, preempted AOC’s own prompts. The representatives, meanwhile, did a nice job learning the game and trying to get the hang of it all within one stream.
Ocasio-Cortez is a good streamer, too. She stuck around for a solid 3.25 hours (not counting the 15 minutes of silence in the beginning) and actively engaged with the audience while she was playing.
“I mean, what kind of futuristic spaceship has gasoline anyway,” she said as her character ran around bringing fuel to the engines. She later lamented that she “still can’t get over that this ship runs on some kind of fossil fuels.”
AOC's stream reached a peak of 430k viewers last night, making it one of the biggest in Twitch history. The viewership hovered around 350k for the most part, then dropped down to around 300k as the night wore on.
There were even other politicians who tuned into the stream, and she gave a shoutout to them when she heard they were watching.
The chat, which I feared would be full of trolling, was actually pretty positive. The mods did a great job cleaning it out from any relentless Twitch troll spam and a lot of love for AOC washed out whoever they missed. This is really impressive considering how much of online gaming culture is neck deep in harassment based on gender, sexual identity, race, or religion. Chat was fast but fairly controlled, and the mods definitely deserve credit for that.
As I watched and rooted through Twitter to see whether the stream was resonating with AOC’s intended audience, I was surprised to see so many related trends. The decision to stream with other big streamers was perfect — you can fit up to 10 players per round in Among Us, which means there were tons of fans following the rest of the players as well.
Adding in Rep. Omar and her daughter, Isra, made it all the more wholesome.
AOC also took the time to talk to the streamers from other countries, like England, asking them what it’s like to have actual, affordable healthcare.
The popularity of the game also contributed to the trends, which prompted the creation of plenty of memes.
As fun as it all was, the lesson was ultimately to vote, make a plan to vote, and vote early. One streamer asked AOC how the congresswoman is planning to cast her ballot.
“I’m voting early, in-person, here in New York,” Ocasio-Cortez answered. “Because I want my ballot — I want my vote to be counted day-of. And in New York, they don’t count the mail-ins before election day. I want my vote counted day-of, so I voted early, in-person.”