On Tuesday night, US members of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar held what is perhaps the most unusual voter outreach event in recent memory.
They signed on to play a livestreamed video game on Twitch, and joined a crew of online strangers to build a spaceship and try to get away with murder – literally.
They were playing the incredibly popular Among Us – a 2018 game currently in the middle of a revival in interest, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and its faddish attraction to influencers. To play the game, crewmates complete mundane tasks on a spaceship while an impostor tries to kill members of the crew without getting caught. In the first round, Ocasio-Cortez – a complete newbie to the game – was picked as the impostor, while Omar, her confidante on Capitol Hill was none the wiser, so the live stream was set to be fun from the start.
And it was, by every metric we have for this kind of event, an incredible success. Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitch channel garnered a staggering audience of 439,000 viewers, all watching her in real time (the record for a Twitch stream is about 628,000 concurrent viewers) with approximately 5.2 million viewers watching the stream in aggregate. Meme-makers extended the conversation well into the week. Politicians do not draw this large of an online audience so quickly on these platforms: when Donald Trump and Joe Biden stream on Twitch for campaign events, total views peak at around 6,000 and 17,000, respectively.
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