Photo Credit: Flickr user Theresa Thompson
Engaging young people in civic life is a perennial challenge. This year, Knight Foundation, MTV and a group of non-partisan civic media partners are teaming up to make youth engagement a reality through fantasy. They will build Fantasy Election, a game modeled on fantasy football but built around the 2012 presidential and congressional races.
“It’s a fantasy game but the stakes couldn’t be higher. If a fun format, competitive prizes, and credible information give young people the habit of engagement in civic life, it will be a big win,” said Alberto Ibargüen, CEO of Knight Foundation, principal funder of the game.
A record 52% of Americans ages 18-29 voted in 2008, totaling nearly 23 million votes— 16% of the total electorate. A growing body of research shows that new voters who vote twice are considerably more likely to continue voting for life. The challenge, then, is to sustain or increase youth participation in a year with a different political environment, to help young people develop a lifelong habit of civic participation.
For decades, MTV has used its reach with young audiences to run social campaigns on issues from sexual health to cyberbullying to civic participation. Chief among these was the Choose or Lose campaign, an election participation initiative, in partnership with Rock the Vote, encouraging young people to make their opinions heard. This year, MTV's Power of '12 campaign is focused on encouraging young Americans to understand and leverage their immense power as a demographic group, and in providing new "onramps" to participation for young people who haven't been engaged in the past. That's where Fantasy Election enters.