Creates Pac-Man style game to lighten the political mood in Toronto
By: James Di Fiore
My first glance was a quick one, mostly because my eyes rolled to the back of my head instantly. But sometimes we judge too quickly.
While taking a peek at Rocco Rossi’s Facebook page I noticed a post from Rocco himself – ‘A fun online game that incorporates mayoral candidate voting as a means of engaging a younger audience into the municipal election.’ His comments included a link to a site where one can play a Pac-Man style game featuring the main 5 mayoral candidates, their body-less heads munching on pellet-like ballots. You choose the candidate and the remaining 4 become the enemy who try to thwart your mission – to eat as many ballots as you can.
It was Rossi’s initial description that initially irked me – “…a means of engaging a younger audience to the municipal election…” Frankly, I thought it was insulting, and I said as much on the thread under his post. But, like any overzealous political junkie, I knew I should find the source and ask him what the deal was. Enter Michael Girgis, President and CEO of One Stop Media Group, the company responsible for turning our election into even more of a spectacle through a retro video game from decades ago.
I spoke to Girigis over the phone and asked him off the top whether or not the game was an insult to young voters.
“It actually wasn’t skewed towards the 18-34 year olds like some people have assumed,” he said. “we are trying to engage the non-voting groups in the city, but the underlying idea is ‘fun’.”
Girgis added that the public probably feels bombarded with platforms and agendas and are likely looking to be entertained in the run up to this election. Indeed, with a staggering 40+ debates already complete, and another 30+ to go, this election has become reminiscent of the political marathons we are used to seeing south of the border.
One Stop Media Group may not be a local household name, but chances are everyone has seen their company’s technology in action. They are the company responsible for the news and information screens located in subway stations in Toronto. With CP24 as their media partner, Girgis has been able to reach millions of people a day in the city, and Mayor Munch was intended to make light of an election that has the city politically exhausted.
“Again, the underlying idea is to have fun,” said Girgis. “The other idea was to keep the election on the minds of the people. If the game happens to result in people actually voting then bonus.”
You might not agree with Girgis’ contribution to this election, but perhaps it is a welcome break in what many are calling the longest and most polarizing election in Toronto’s history. While Rossi’s characterization of the game being a tool to mobilize young voters was incorrect, Mayor Munch still may be effective in getting the electorate to see the race through a lighthearted lens. And, like the song on the radio replaying over and over again in our head, perhaps this game has an opportunity to have a cerebral effect on our young, apathetic voters.
So, like the unscientific Lick’s Hamburger poll that somehow chooses the winning candidate every four years, look to see if Girgis’ creation will be a presence in Toronto politics for our future municipal elections.