Digital evolutions have played large parts in politics for as long as
both politics and digital
marketing strategies have co-existed, with Donald Trump and
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being two mainstream examples in recent
history who had exceptional engagement on social media, ultimately
being large reasons for their respective successes when election time
rolled around. JFK had similar success in being ahead of the curve
with television advertising in the sixties.
With augmented reality and virtual reality bringing a new wave of
technology being utilized in various industries
such as construction, healthcare, and education, political
strategists are following suit and brainstorming (and implementing)
ideas regarding virtual reality in regards to their strategies moving forward.
Here are some ways the VR industry has already been utilized in
politics, as well as some speculation for future use.
Although the domestic left vs. right issues are rarely discussed with
any sort of diplomacy, it does still exist when foreign relations are
being discussed. During the Obama Administration, Barack and Michelle
used 360 degree camera technology on their end to give virtual tours
of the White House to foreign nationals utilizing VR headsets on their end.
Similar uses are not uncommon across the global political scale, and
as is the case with almost all implementations of virtual reality,
feeling like you are “there,” wherever there may be, makes any
conversation a bit more intimate and relaxed.
It’s no secret that U.S. political advertisements often to exist to
make consumers of the advertising (a.k.a. voters) feel something
deeply to help create, solidify, or change feelings towards a given
political issue. A VR documentary called Clouds Over Sidra, that was
created to depict the lives of Syrian refugees from a first-person
viewpoint, wound up raising $3.2 billion in funds to help end the
suffering of the refugees.
When it comes to political gain, similar documentaries can (and have,
in small quantities) be created to help raise awareness about issues
such as animal rights, treatment of detained migrants, and even the
inner workings of certain political circles. Certainly, these already
exist in two-dimensional movies and TV shows, but VR
triggers emotions beyond those that people experiencing simply
by observing something (2D), as the VR really makes you feel like
you’re “there,” whether that means the Oval Office, or a refugee camp
in Syria, or even the shoes of a black man in America, and any
technology that can pull more emotion will certainly be a technology
that politicians aim to use.
Though the $3.2 billion raised for the Syrian refugees is a huge
number used for great things, it’s merely twice of what presidential
candidates raised and spent on the campaign train in 2016,
alone. Campaigns have big money, and though VR costs are still
considered high, that’s more relative to the cost of a regular TV for
an every day consumer. With almost endless streams of cash, political
campaigns are now buying in to the VR technologies to produce content
for their own political gain.
During the 2016 election cycle, VR social network AltspaceVR crated a
360-degree view of the NBC-hosted live presidential debates. For
consumers of political news and campaign messages, this may be a more
appealing implementation of VR in the campaign trail, as it will allow
a front-row seat to what are expected to be emotionally heavy debates
Given the fact that the U.S. still faces many restrictions on
gatherings due to the coronavirus, it is expected that any type of
technology that brings the masses “closer” to the political action
will be highly utilized in the next month, with VR being front and center.