Political Campaigning Games: Digital Campaigning With Computer Games in European National Elections

Michael Bossetta


This study examines how politically themed computer games function as digital campaigning tools during elections. To make sense of this understudied phenomenon, the concept of political campaigning games (PCGs) is introduced and defined as advergames that promote a partisan political position in an electoral context. The study bridges theoretical literatures from game studies, media studies, and political communication to mount the argument that PCGs convey a persuasive political message through the rhetorical devices deployed in political cartoons as well as computer games. Methodologically, I develop a framework for rhetorical game analysis and apply it to 4 games from European national elections. The analysis expounds the games’ strategic political messages as well as how they are rhetorically argued through game mechanics. The findings reveal that PCGs exemplify changing dynamics in digital campaigning, reify the enduring effectiveness of conflict framing, and codify how games can be designed to enact political rhetoric.


political communication, media studies, rhetorical game analysis, video games, social media, virality

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