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Samantha Bee doesn’t care if someone is a Democrat, Republican, or “the person at the bar who says you hate all the parties ’cause you’re trying to hook up,” she wants everyone to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. To encourage people to register and participate this November, she’s launching a mobile trivia application, which she unveiled on Wednesday at the Helen Mills Theater in New York.
This is Not a Game: The Game app is set to go public Sept. 12, the same day her late-night satire show Full Frontal on TBS returns from hiatus. The daily trivia game will guide users through 10 multiple-choice questions, and anyone who answers all of them correctly will split that day’s jackpot, which will range from $1,000 to $5,000. Users can also earn extra lives by inviting friends, completing election-related “challenges” and checking their voter registration status.
“It felt like somebody should try something,” Bee said on Wednesday to a small group of journalists at the event. “We don’t have a clue if it’s going to work, if it’s going to succeed, or fail. It really is a grand experiment.”
Going into the project a year ago, the TBS host knew the facts — the 2014 midterm elections saw the lowest voter turnout since World War II, and millions didn’t even bother to vote in the most recent presidential election — but what she didn’t know was that even her own viewers tend to forego casting a ballot.
“In the process of creating the game, we learned that of the people who watch our show, only 52 percent of them are registered to vote,” Bee added. “Which is remarkable.”
Though she certainly wants to engage the 48 percent of her viewers that don’t vote, Bee also tried to make the game “relatively bipartisan” to encourage everyone to participate this November.
“I actually think that we endeavored to make something that would drive voter turnout in a bipartisan way. And I think that we have done that because somehow we have captured the voice of the show, but made it so that we’re making fun of everyone — in an appropriate manner,” Bee joked.
The sneak-peek questions at Wednesday’s launch covered a range of topics within the realms of politics and civic affairs, from the Koch brothers’ GOP donations to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s zodiac sign.
To develop the app, Bee worked closely with product manager Adam Werbach, who participated in a panel discussion and media Q&A alongside Full Frontal field producer Razan Ghalayini. The initial idea came after a segment of Ghalayini’s about the decline of local newspapers, and how rewards like lottery tickets can increase engagement and readership. The group took this concept of “gamification” to try and incentivize voter participation.
Ghalayini spearheaded much of the project, which involves a partnership with Vote.org. She said that in addition to the daily games, the Full Frontal team plans on sending weekly newsletters with supplemental information for certain questions, or maybe even “a roundup of what’s going on in the midterms.”
By launching This is Not a Game: The Game, Bee is joining the ranks of other celebrities attempting to encourage people to vote during the midterm elections. Billy Eichner recently launched his “Glam Up the Midterms” campaign, in which he and stars such as Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Handler will travel around the U.S. to “work to convince voters under the age of 40 that America hasn’t gone to s—t and that they should vote in November.”
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