vMOBilize integrates social networking and gaming theory into the development of a social network web-based get-out-the-vote game. The game makes use of players' social networks and provides incentives for players to seek out first-time and non-habitual voters to join their voting teams.
Players participate in the game on a team. Each team is led by a captain. Captains are responsible for recruiting new team members, diversifying their network, and activating new outreach campaigns through their players.
Captains invite members of their social network to join their team, with the agreement that these new players promise to vote in the upcoming election. Captains have the option of recruiting Assistant Captains (A.C.s), who would share in the Get out the Vote (GOTV) effort.
Upon registering his or her team, a captain will be asked for permission to access their social networks (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). They will then be given the opportunity to write an invitation message to members of their networks, or to use one of several pre-written messages.
It is the responsibility of the team Captain and his/her players to keep the election on the minds of team members and to maximize the likelihood that their team members will vote on Election Day.
Teams compete for points. Points are allotted to teams based on how many additional players they recruit, as well as the voting history of the recruits. For instance, first-time voters and occasional voters are worth more points than people who vote all the time. (Historical voting records are publically available in electronic form and can be integrated into our web app. Upon signing up, the website will attempt to locate the new recruit's identity in the voter history files and then attempt to verify the individual's record, using whatever information is available.)
Team members can also earn points throughout the game, by recruiting new members, and by competing various challenges along the way. For example, captains will have the option of identifying pre-approved charities and raising funds for their chosen charity from their team. Charitable donations will increase teams' total point tally in the game.
Remember, though... all the points that an individual earns for his/her team are embargoed until Election Day. These points only end up counting towards the team's total if that person actually votes. The votes will be indirectly verified by using smart-phone GPS to validate whether each team member showed up at their registered polling place on Election Day. Early voters will be pre-tallied. The site uses location services, synced with a web-based app, for this purpose. The sole task for team members will be to "check in" with the web app when they arrive at their designated polling place.
In addition to verifying turnout, the web app will track all teams, their point totals, their networks, charitable contributions, and other information about the teams. It will also serve as a hub for interactions between the game administrators (ourselves) and the teams. Occasionally, team members who have agreed to respond to surveys, might be invited to respond to questions to help the site founders with ongoing research projects.