The gamification of Indian politics is a popular topic now. This is largely due to the way many of the candidate’s supporters are getting really active in the digital space by spreading memes and gamified elements. Many of these gamified elements are blurring the lines between propaganda and reality. Like the app that gives you a chance to have a meeting with the Prime Minister if you can get enough credits by donating to the party.
Another big part of Prime Minister Modi’s campaign has been the divisive gamified way he has framed the contest. This campaign really has been set up as us against them campaign in a no holds back fight to the brink. The vibes are more in the style you could expect in a Las Vegas boxing match than in the civilized art of political diplomacy. This all seems part of the new normal we are seeing politics around the world as politicians look to build strong narratives of good vs evil and combat waning engagement.
Elsewhere in India in the state of Haryana, a politician is aiming to take a seat in parliament thanks to his gamification app. The 25-year-old, Bhavya Bishnoi, created the gamified app which allows users to gain points and badges which have real-world rewards, mostly regarding having access with the politician.
While some might see these moves as democratic really, they are simply of the type of Neo-Liberal politics that have pervaded politics since the time of Reagan, Thatcher and the Chicago School of Economics. Of course, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton later followed with their focus groups which attempted to work out exactly what swinging voters needed to swing them in the right direction. The question of whether or not this was eroding principles was often retorted with the response ‘What is the point of being ethical but in opposition’ – which something like the words Clinton said to his campaign manager.
Even in the most recent US election, we saw the Trump team bunkered down in a PR office with Facebook and Google staff on the ready to provide the information that would sway voters on a case by case basis.
We now live with a political system where the decisions that get made represent only those who are the richest. Study after study shows that the impact of donations and political access granted to big money is easily the biggest influencer in the decisions that are made on the ground when it comes to voting on the floor. Regardless of which political party is elected this is the case.
Perhaps we need to start qualifying politics for the people and not for the ‘people’ as Modi claims.