Samantha Bee unveiled her new civic engagement comedy trivia app, “This Is Not a Game: The Game,” on Wednesday’s Full Frontal, aiming to increase voter turnout before the 2018 midterm elections by incentivizing political knowledge. In the pre-filmed segment, the host showed the product’s development from concept to prototype to finished product.
The piece opened with a “depressed” Bee shouting and throwing random objects at her TV screen, as political news stories flashed by. “I’m out of ideas, and Americans never vote,” she said. “And, honestly, they probably won’t vote unless we pay them. I have an idea! I’m gonna gamify the midterms!”
Bee consulted with a crew of gaming experts to help generate basic ideas. Then she spoke with Matt Mahan, CEO of civic engagement app Brigade, about how the company’s engineers predicted President Trump’s election win.
“Two months before the election, one of our engineers noticed that an unusually high number of Democrats on Brigade were indicating that they were supporting Donald Trump,” Mahan said. “And it really wasn’t until election night that we realized that what we were picking up on were these voters that had supported Barack Obama and then crossed over and voted for Donald Trump in 2016.”
Bee then sought out some prototype feedback of their mobile game at the Lesbians Who Tech conference in New York City. After sharpening the app’s jokes and spritzing up its design, she earned additional feedback from her “interns.” By this point, the reviews were more solid: “It’s like ‘HQ Trivia’ but with better jokes,” one user raved.
“This Is Not a Game: The Game,” which allows users to win up to $5,000, is now available to download. In a new interview with Wired, Bee said she created the game partly to increase the number of registered voters in her viewing audience (currently 54 percent).
“I always had a sense of purpose with this game, but this recent finding has really strengthened that resolve; we can do better, for sure,” she said. “Obviously the stakes are very high for civilization as a whole. But we’re not sitting around thinking that we’re going to go out and save democracy, we’re really not. We’re just trying to help in any way we can.”
Bee also unveiled her new set design and opening credits. “It’s a way to reflect that we’re becoming very established. We’re occupying a little more territory, so we might as well own it a little bit,” Bee recently explained to Entertainment Tonight. “I think what it really represents is we now have the opportunity to pursue these big ideas.”