Debates and video games

Robert Schoon watched last night’s vice presidential debate on his Xbox:

Xbox’s simple presentation was a surprisingly liberating, compared to watching on T.V.. I had been watching other channels that night, and all of them, even the broadcast networks, had some gimmick on the screen, whether it was split-screen “reaction” shots, twitter feeds, ubiquitous crawl at the bottom of the screen, or even just visually displaying the moderator’s question. Though it didn’t look revolutionary in the “digital age” sense, it was a quiet rebellion against the distracting visual packaging that all the news channels have seemingly decided upon.

Then the polls started popping up on screen. At about half an hour before the end of the debate, a little blue band appeared with a question and three choices. After choosing one, a bar graph would appear, giving instant results, in percentages, for each option. I counted at least fifteen questions before I lost track, and though the questions tracked well with the debate – foreign policy questions while Vice President Biden and Paul Ryan talked Afghanistan, questions about candidates’ religion during the abortion portion – the polling became so rapid-fire as to become distracting. Plus, they were beside the point, unless that point was to relentlessly confirm that roughly two-thirds of Xbox Live watchers are liberal and about ten percent had no opinion about anything.

Still, it’s a start…

Personally, I found ABC News’ coverage last night nauseating. I turned on the live Internet feed about 15 minutes before the debate started, and all the hosts were talking about was the apparently horrifying news that Twitter usage would be banned in the debate hall. Then, during the debate itself, an absurdly large blue bar kept popping up showing which keywords were trending on Twitter. Enough, already.


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