Brow Beat

Samantha Bee Is Trying to Save Democracy With an App

Upon realizing that a staggering 54 percent of those who watch her show, Full Frontal, aren’t registered to vote, Samantha Bee decided to do something to entice her audience and others to get to the polls. And she did so in “the most 2018 way” possible: with an app. This Is Not a Game is, in fact, a game, consisting of daily political trivia challenges played live, HQ Trivia-style. It turns political awareness into a social activity with a cash prize incentive.

The idea, Bee said on Wednesday night, was born out of frustration with the current political climate and feeling forced to unload her frustration by hurling shoes, office supplies, and even a crossbow at her television. “I’m depressed, I’m out of ideas, and Americans never vote. And frankly they probably won’t unless we pay them,” says Bee. That’s when she had the lightbulb moment to turn midterm elections into a game. “I want to dangle a treat over America and be like, look, you could vote, you might win something.”

To make the idea a reality, Bee worked with gamification expert Gabe Zichermann, “civic tech expert” Adam Werbach, and Mark Pincus, the billionaire who created FarmVille, among others. The concept is simple: The game promises to educate people about politics using Bee’s style of humor, offers the opportunity to earn some money, and, perhaps, will get people excited to go out and vote. While it’s too early to tell if the gaming app can actually increase voter turnout, we can at least get some laughs from it to avoid destroying our own TVs. But there’s a catch, according to Bee: “Don’t tell Ted Cruz. I don’t want to have to give him money.”