"We're 55 days from the midterm elections, and one phrase is on every pundit's lips," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal: Blue wave. She wasn't buying it, explaining all the obstacles to Democrats winning control of anything. "Bottom line: Republican votes actually count more," she said. "Because of all their judicial theft, gerrymandering, and vote suppressing, Republicans have made seemingly competitive races almost impossible to win." Things are so dire, Bee said, that according to one estimate, Democrats have to turn out 15 million more voters than they did in the 2014 midterms. "Where are they going to find those kinds of numbers?" she asked. She remembered that 15 million people played "Pokémon Go" in 2016, and an app was born.
"Gamification is the idea that you can incentivize people to do something that they wouldn't necessarily always want to do, with a reward or a prize," Bee explained. "Civic engagement is important, midterms are important, and I think it would be very helpful if a little balance was restored to our current government." She flew to San Francisco to meet with a group of civic tech experts about creating an app to encourage people to vote. When those experts brainstormed a cat-centric reward scheme, she flew back to New York to meet the CEO of Brigade, who convinced her that the app had to be nonpartisan and, probably, involve trivia.
Things didn't go smoothy, Bee documented, but after lots of trial and error and audience feedback, she and collaborator Adam Werbach came up with a political comedy trivia game, "This Is Not a Game," that offers cash prizes. "If you like it, tell your friends, no matter who they vote for," Bee said, with one exception: "Don't tell Ted Cruz, I don't want to have to give him money." You can watch the journey from concept to product, and learn how to download the game, in the video below. Peter Weber