Thursday, September 07, 2006

the redistricting game

Before this year’s November elections a team of researchers at USC plan to launch a game that simulates how legislative redistricting works--who does it, what their motivations are, and the impacts on communities and legislative representation. As the redistricting game website explains:

“Right now, the political system in many states provides the state legislatures themselves draw the line. While this system can sometimes work well, it has also proven subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulation that often has the result that incumbents are re-elected time and time again.”

In a presentation at USC’s Annenberg Center for Communication today, the game’s creators explained that their ultimate goal, based on the idea that games are capable of setting disposition, is not to simply educate young people about redistricting but to get them interested in learning about the rules and structure of politics.

Researchers at the center Sasha Costanza-Chock and Mimi Ito challenged the game creator to imagine how to make the game more of a conversation—not just kids learning about grown-up politics but also kids teaching adults about their political systems and mode of political participation--the dynamics of lunchroom cafeterias to protests organized on and about Friendster (also see my post from yesterday). They pointed out that kids, after all, are systematically excluded from “grown-up” politics. And perhaps if adults paid attention, they could learn a thing or two from the too-young-to-vote set.

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