General consensus is that Mitt Romney won the presidential debate last night. President Barack Obama came in second. Jim Lehrer's moderating skills were a distant third.
But Microsoft's Xbox Elections 2012, a platform that promised to let viewers watch the debate on their 360s and witness as audiences react in real time, might have performed worse than all of them.
I turned on my stream at around 8:30pm last night, half an hour before the debate was scheduled to start. At 9pm, it suddenly switched over to dead footage of the back of Jim Lehrer's head for about 45 seconds. No sound. Then, for the first 25 minutes of the debate, there was absolutely nothing on my screen but the candidates talking, complete with a giant "Xbox Live" logo in the top right corner. Boring.
After a while, questions started popping up on the bottom of the screen: I'd see queries like (paraphrased) "Who do you plan to vote for?" and "Whose views will create more jobs?" I expected questions relevant to the actual debate, but if there were any, I sure didn't see them. These polls seemed like they were written way in advance. One of them even showed up twice, some generic question like "Which candidate has better views on the economy?"
Sure, it was cool to see how many people were rooting for each candidate—around 57% said they were voting for Obama and some 30% picked Romney—but I expected some sort of interaction that actually involved the live event we were watching. There were no questions about Big Bird, no polls about zingers, no interesting graphs or polls about who was lying and who was telling the truth.
Then, around the 50-minute mark, my stream crashed. I waited a minute or two for it to come back. It didn't. I did a quick Twitter search and found that it had crashed for lots of other people too. Bummer. Hopefully Microsoft steps it up for the next one.