As the world's most popular game streaming platform, Twitch has certainly seen a lot of usage over the years. For many, it's the place to watch your favorite online personalities play games. On other occasions, Twitch has been used to broadcast some of the most notable moments of internet history, ranging from Bob Ross marathons to a fish playing Pokemon. There is almost no figurative limit to the things that you can watch on Twitch, though it seems doubtful that anyone could have predicted that the platform would also be used by active American politicians to play games with actual people. More specifically, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar recently made history by being the first politicians to use Twitch for its intended purpose, playing Among Us with a number of notable streamers.
Technically, the main purpose of AOC's Among Us Twitch broadcast was to encourage people to vote, but from a practical standpoint it was no different from any other stream on the platform. Chances are that if you randomly dropped into the stream and you've never heard of AOC or Ilhan Omar, then you'd almost certainly mistake them for normal people doing normal gaming things. It's almost too perfect that they were playing Among Us as the theme has never been more apropos. When you consider the frigid history between politicians and the gaming industry, the whole experience could best be described as surreal. Amusingly enough, AOC's first Twitch broadcast also got some very impressive viewership numbers (approximately 439,000 concurrent viewers), almost rivaling the records set by streamers like Ninja and Stroud.
Now you may ask why this is a big deal. After all, it shouldn't come as a surprise that younger politicians play games when almost every modern phone in the world can run some kind of game. Plus AOC has outright stated that she plays League of Legends. In a few decades, it might not even be noteworthy that some of the people that you are playing with today could end up as some sort of elected official. No, the gaming aspect itself is almost irrelevant.
It's the fact that, much like how President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the power of the radio to directly address the nation during its darkest hour with his fireside chats, AOC is using Twitch to connect with normal people. After all, most people aren't heading to rallies or town hall meetings (especially with a pandemic), so this is easily the best way to build a sense that the representatives are actually representing their constituents. Announcing actual policies and such via Twitch would still probably be a terrible idea, but for the purposes of being relatable it worked perfectly.
It goes without saying that AOC's Among Us stream helped solidify her image as the new, modern politician. Since the dawn of time, politicians have built up a reputation as being holier than thou upper class people who wouldn't be caught dead concerning themselves with the matters of the common man. It would be safe to say that this perception has barely changed, given their general collective ignorance (willful or otherwise) when it comes to this new era of technology. Disgraceful examples include not understanding how Facebook makes money, net neutrality, and pretty much any attempt to regulate internet content. Then you have AOC, who is not just playing a game that's in vogue, not just using Twitch with minimal problems, but also somewhat effortlessly fitting in with people who literally make their living off of the internet.
That's not to say that everyone in Congress should start personally jumping onto YouTube and Twitch. Seeing as how no small number of active politicians either come from an era that predate the commercialization of computers or use existing technology in decidedly unwise ways (or both), there's no way that any sane PR or IT person would ever let them on such platforms. It goes without saying that having the right personality is helpful too, and these are just the basics. Does this mean that AOC and Ilhan Omar's Among Us Twitch adventures are a flash in the pan? Possibly, but it was once a wild notion that social media would take off to the point that almost everyone has some sort of active personal account, so it's hard to say what might happen in the future as demographics change. With that in mind, it's not impossible that similar events will sporadically happen in the future. If it helps new generations of people be politically active then all the better.