Chris Puckett is a veteran of the esports scene. From playing Halo at the highest level to being the face of Major League Gaming and then moving on to host the Overwatch League for the first couple of seasons he has just about done it all, and his next project is to get gamers to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Puckett is one of many high profile gaming celebrities and companies to partner with Gamers.Vote, a program that is designed to, unsurprisingly, get gamers to vote in the upcoming election. The organisation is not tied to a political party and is not campaigning for a particular side, the focus is just making sure that as many people as possible vote this year.
“I think one of my goals with my participation with Gamers.Vote was not to tell people which side to choose or that you have to pick a side, I think it’s more of an issue of participating at this point,” says Puckett. “If we look at the data, and we look at the numbers for the ages of 18 to 29, less than half of the eligible voters in 2016 showed up to the polls or submitted an absentee ballot. If you compare that to citizens of 65 plus they had a turnout of 70.9%. And I think we need to have our voice heard and also recognise the power that our votes carry in shaping the country for not just ourselves, but for our children and for the future of the country.”
Like many of the big-name personalities who have got involved with the Gamers.Vote organization, this is a personal matter for Puckett. In his early years, he did not get involved with the political scene, but now as he has grown older and seen the impact politics not only has on the wider world but also his own life, he wants to try to convince younger people to not make the same mistake.
“I have to admit it, I did not vote when I turned 18,” reveals Puckett. “It wasn’t until I got into my late 20s that I really started to exercise my right and go to the polls myself. This year it’s easier than ever, absentee ballots have always been available, but with the Coronavirus hitting us there’s a larger push to make it easier than ever for people to stay safe while also getting their votes in.
“I was looking up the process today, it literally took me two minutes. I went over to Gamers.Vote and basically all you need to do is confirm your citizenship, that your US citizen, by providing any kind of personal identification number. That can be your driver’s licence, the last four digits of your social security number, or if you don’t want to share those or if you don’t even have a driver’s licence or social security number on hand that you’re willing to share, you can have your state assign you an identification number. It’s a super easy process. And I think the hardest part for a lot of people is feeling the need to align with one party or another because that is a required field in the registration form. But if you scroll down that list, it’s got almost every party you can think about. You can also just put other, or none.”
Somewhat infamously a lot of the vocal gaming fan base is staunchly against having politics be anything to do with games. “Keep politics out of games” is a common comment when browsing forums or reading news stories about games that feature anything remotely political. Even Ubisoft, a company currently making a game set in the UK where Brexit has gone badly, continues to make a point that its games are not political. But Puckett is encouraging people to move past this idea, and open up about being involved politically and most importantly voting.
“We are able to share our content, we’re able to share our beliefs, our opinions, but sharing it through content and social media isn’t the same as actually putting in your vote and having your decisions count towards the elected officials that will be shaping our country moving forward,” says Puckett. “So I understand a lot of people may be nervous about discussing politics, maybe they’re non-confrontational, but everyone deep down has their own morals, values and belief systems. And I think that using your vote to exercise those, to find representation that is like-minded or feels the same way as you, is going to be the key to shaping this country moving forward.”
Puckett is just one of the big names involved with Gamers.Vote. Other names such as WNBA player and Twitch streamer Aerial Powers and the massive FaZe Clan esports and content organization are also pushing fans to register to vote this year, and early signs are that the campaign is working, with lots of positive feedback from fans. But for Puckett, this isn’t about getting a pat on the back for working with a good cause.
“I feel it is my moral responsibility to continue charity work, to continue political work for key issues that I find to be crucial to the future in shaping our country,” says Puckett. “So I think this could just be the start of a long relationship with Gamers Vote and other organizations. And you know, I’m 34 years old, every year I’m learning, every day I’m still learning. So what I can do in my position is just share that knowledge and hopefully catch other people up faster and give them a source of information and look forward to the future.”
As my call with Puckett came to a close it was clear that this was a cause that he really believes in, and not just so that his political side will get an advantage in the polls. For him, this is all about getting people to vote, so that the election this year is a true representation of as many Americans as possible, and if you are still on the fence, it really is incredibly easy and worthwhile to sign up and vote.
“I think just one other note for anyone that may be reading the article about how easy it is to sign up, just go to Gamers.Vote, and if you’re unsure if you’re already registered, you can go to usa.gov and confirm your status,” says Puckett. “Yes, we’re dealing with the pandemic, there’s a lot of public fear of going out and in voting in person, but we can get it done through mail, you can stay safe, you can do it from home, and your vote will matter. So don’t stop posting [on social media] but also start voting, let’s not just complain on social media or share our opinions there, let’s actually take action, and let’s shape our future together.”