Lobbying as gaming

I heard a news story yesterday about a smart phone app that educates individuals about issues important to a trade industry group as they compete for prizes.  Two things that piqued my interest were; the use of gaming apps as a lobbying tool, and the fact that the reporter (an intern) seemed to have little awareness of the depth of what he was reporting.

The app is in the form of a game that presents players with multiple choice questions on topics of interest to the trade association.  Through the app, the trade group has a direct channel to voters.  The platform of an on-going contest allows the group to let voters know
How they can support policies consistent with the interests of the association’s membership.  There is nothing new about lobbyist doing outreach directly to voters but the use of smart phone apps as a tool for connecting with potential voters seems quite novel.  I’m sure this is not the first industry group to develop such an instrument but the prevalence of such outreach tools was not a part of the story.

The fact that the reporter didn’t seem to have an understanding of the intended use of the app was disappointing.  I expected the reporter to investigate such things as: How are the “correct” answers to questions determined?  What sort of communication will take place between the trade association and the players? will the trade association share their candidate endorsements with the players?

My goal here is not to demonize either a lobbying group or a news intern.  The app is an innovative way to generate support of the policies that will benefit the group’s membership.  I would have liked to learn more about how this group got the idea to use gaming as a lobbying tool.  I also recognize that the reporter may be facing many constraints I’m not even aware of.  I would have liked to hear, either within the story or in the wrap around material, reference to other stories on these types of lobbying efforts.

The story:  Milwaukee Manufacturing Group Creates App to Prepare Workers for the Fall Election

The industry group:  The Association of Equipment Manufacturers

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