Designing an Interactive Experience for Local Elections Information to Increase Civic Participation Amongst Young Adults

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Park, Chaeeun
Kwon, EunSook
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Americans are uniquely situated in that they have more opportunities than people in other countries to vote due to the combination of municipal, state, and national elections. However out of these elections, local elections suffer from the lowest voter turnout despite the fact that these elections hold major influence in the daily lives of local residents. Paired with this, young, voting-aged adults (aged 18-29) have different frameworks for understanding and engaging with politics from previous generations. This divergence is rooted in their reliance on trusted personal networks in a vast sea of political information as well as their interest in specific social causes as opposed to the mechanisms of traditional political institutions. This study examines how young, voting-aged adults (ages 18-29) are both motivated and demoralized from civic engagement. Through design intervention, it explores how interactive games can help motivate young adults to become more civically engaged in their local elections through demystifying the perceived complex hostility of politics by utilizing roleplaying and gamification, helping young adults learn more about what is happening in their local environment, and fostering a cooperative model of civic engagement based on guided discussion. Finally, a tabletop game, Denizen, was developed in order to help facilitate political discussions amongst young adults and also help them learn more about local issues. The outcomes of this study underscore the importance of utilizing new engagement methods for young adults, especially for re-engaging young adults into traditional electoral duties. It also highlights the importance of knowledge-building and political expertise in improving overall civic motivation.
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