No, Microsoft didn't manage to have an Xbox 360 snuck into Barack Obama's room. The Clinton's didn't spend their pre-speech prep early this week playing team deathmatch Call of Duty 4. Delegates didn't forego Joe Biden's rowdy all-nighter (I hear some of the Black-Eyed Peas and Snoop Dog were there) to catch some time with Gears of War 2. Gaming amidst one of the biggest political gatherings of the year is a little more staid, make that a lot more staid.One of the only public appearance by the monolithic video game industry at the week-long Democratic National Convention in Denver this week was by Microsoft and its Xbox 360. Microsoft's State Government Affairs folks set up shop in a back bleacher section of the Rocky's Coors Field during Tuesday's A Day at Coors Field. Their demonstration area was packed with flat screen televisions, Xbox 360s, copies of MLB 2K8 and of course one large couch. "Where better to talk about families and games then in the living room," Fred Humphries told me as I sat down to chat with him. Humphries, managing director of state government affairs for Microsoft's US Legal Corporate Affairs, flew into Denver to help oversee Microsoft, and the Xbox's, showing at the week-long convention. "We're here to highlight the family settings for the Xbox 360 and talk about ratings," he said. "Education is so important when it comes to the Xbox. We are here to tell people about Play Smart, Play Safe." The morning event at Coors Field, which gave VIPs, politicians and delegates a chance to hit some balls out on the field of Coors, gave the company access to a stream of politicians in an environment where Microsoft hoped they could get their message across about gaming. In particular Humphries and his group told delegates and others about how parents can set up a console to only allow their children to play games with certain ratings. They also explained the timer, which allows parents to limit the amount of time gamers can play in a given day or session. The group also hands out literature to delegates including Microsoft's Family Guide to Video Games and Entertainment and a pamphlet that encourages parents to sit down with their children and actually write out an agreement that spells out how much and what type of games a child can play and when. "We fully support parents talking to kids," Humphries said. Humphries and his group make the rounds at a lot of political events around the country every year, he said, and they will definitely be at the Republic National Convention when it takes over Saint Paul early next month. Microsoft's appearance at the DNC comes a week after the company announced they were teaming up with Rock the Vote to encourage voting through their Xbox Live service. While education was the thrust of the booth, it was packed with Xbox 360 kiosks. Each system had MLB 2K8 set up to play. The consoles were also loaded with a collection of retro arcade and casual games, perhaps to try and strike a chord with some of the older delegates, like Pac-Man and Uno. Pong was nowhere to be seen.
You know, CoD4 Multiplayer team matchs could really speed up the democratic process. Less voting, more sniping! I'd be all for that, except I'm sure someone would start using Martyrdom, and then everyone else would complain about it, while secretly turning that Perk on.
And after that, we'll have to see about getting Grifball added as an Olympic sport!