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Government/Politics

TPR Produces Video Game About Voting In Texas

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A screenshot of Voting In Texas: The Game, created by David Martin Davies

Video games are a powerful tool for storytelling, and now that power is being harnessed to tell the story about access to the ballot box. In “Voting In Texas: The Game,” Texas Public Radio has developed an interactive amusement that drops the player into the world of a character who wants to take part in democracy in the Lone Star State.

“This is a way to put people in the shoes of a potential voter in Texas and experience their odyssey to go vote,” said journalist David Martin Davies, who scripted and produced the game.

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The objective of the game is to get to the polling station and cast a vote. Along the way, the player discovers that in Texas this isn’t always an easy task to accomplish.

“As journalists, we are storytellers, and this is just one more way to communicate sourced facts and data about a complex issue. Hopefully this will also reach new audiences, too, about the barriers of voting in Texas,” said Davies.

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A screenshot of Voting In Texas: The Game, created by David Martin Davies

The game is scripted with sourced dialogue using fact-based information about the challenges many in Texas are confronted with when they try to vote. The information communicated in the game is drawn from academic studies and reports from established voting rights organizations.

The result is a highly produced walk-through of the pitfalls that many potential voters in Texas face including the difficulty with the state’s voter registration process. In Texas, voter registration isn’t online and must be completed 30 days before Election Day, the maximum federal law allows. In addition there are the issues of closed polling locations, long lines, voter roll purges, voter intimidation and partisan poll watchers.

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A screenshot of Voting In Texas: The Game, created by David Martin Davies

“Voting In Texas: The Game” uses the bright colors and snappy sounds of a video game to illustrate the dark fact that the Texas system for voting is the most difficult in the nation. The player even has the opportunity to learn if it’s actually easier to buy a rifle in Texas than it is for a first-time voter to cast a ballot.

The game only takes a few minutes to play through and is embedded in a web browser. This greatly increases accessibility and portability of the software.

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A screenshot of Voting In Texas: The Game, created by David Martin Davies

The game is released as Texas is wrestling with a proposed passage of an even harsher set of voting laws. However, the game play uses the voting laws as they were in place during the November 3, 2020, general election.

The player even has a chance to relive the experience of deciding to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott made wearing a protective face covering optional for the poll workers and the voters.

The game was developed using the platform RPGMaker MV and the assets available in the product.

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