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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Game appeal for Uruguay's voters
By Roberto Belo

A political party in Uruguay campaigning for the general election on 31 October has created an online game on its website in order to attract young voters.

Screenshot of Cambiemos
The game uses Shockwave to make a political point
The game is called Cambiemos, the Spanish expression for Let's Change, which is the main campaign theme promoted by the opposition left wing coalition Frente Amplio.

"The game itself is a jigsaw puzzle about building a new country, by putting together images of hope", explained its chief designer Gonzalo Frasca, who is Uruguayan.

Mr Frasca is a veteran developer of games with a political bent. Last year he was involved in the campaign of the US Presidential hopeful Howard Dean.

"Uruguay is a country that has been going through the worst economical crisis in its history, so the focus of this campaign is telling people that we can change, working all together," he told the BBC programme Go Digital.

"What we want to do is to draw attention to an alternative way to contacting young people.

"A lot of young people do not trust politicians or are very disconnected with politics, so video games are a way, a language to bridge these two worlds."

New strategy

The growth of gaming as a natural way of expression among the younger generations, means that more and more people who have something to say are using this new media as a communication tool.

Gonzalo Frasca
It's the second time this has happened in the world, as far as I know, the first being the current US election campaign
Gonzalo Frasca, games developer
In the case of Cambiemos, it may give the final boost Uruguay's left wing coalition needs to win a closely fought election, according to the latest opinion polls.

Frente Amplio is fighting for votes with the right-centre Partido Nacional and the Partido Colorado.

There are 2.5 millon votes up for grabs and 10% of these are people voting for the first time

"I think the game can also encourage people to learn more about the candidate," said Mr Frasca, who is currently at the Department of Digital Aesthetics and Communication at the Information Technology University of Copenhagen.

"Even though there is actually not a lot of political information in the game itself, it's on the party's website, which has a lot of links to the political pages, so young people can discover more information about the candidate".

According to Mr Frasca, Cambiemos is the first official game commissioned by a political party running for the presidential election in Latin America,

"It's the second time this has happened in the world, as far as I know, the first being the current US election campaign, in which so far there has been five or six official games. It's a new strategy," he said.

Cambiemos is a Shockwave game, and can be played at the Uruguay's Frente Amplio website

You can hear more about this story on the BBC World Service programme, Go Digital

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