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French presidential candidate leverages gamer nostalgia

Since time immemorial politicians have had a tough time reaching out to the young. Twentysomethings are quick to adopt and support a political stance vocally, but when it comes time to actually show up at a voting booth and make one’s voice heard, the youth of the world are more prone to sleep in or decry the system as utterly corrupt — a stance that makes being fashionably disaffected all too easy.

Thus French presidential candidate François Bayrou (or more likely his team of well-paid campaign planners) have concocted a scheme to speak directly to the younger generation’s most sacred affection: Video games.

A quick glance at Bayrou’s campaign website might convince you that his attempt to take France’s highest office is pretty standard. He’s a well-dressed, wealthy, middle-aged man; the embodiment of the stereotypical politician. Likewise, his campaign platforms are rather de rigueur. More jobs, better social services, a chicken in every pot — you’ve heard this all before.

However, if you enter the Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A) on the site, a new window opens displaying an 8-bit promotional video for the candidate. The clip begins with a tone that should be familiar to fans of Capcom’s Super Nintendo titles, includes characters that would be right at home in any early-90s Final Fantasy game, blatantly rips off the musical score from The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, and concludes with the words “Insert vote to play.”

As The Telegraph glibly points out, the whole thing is a pretty transparent gimmick, but it is pretty novel to see a politician court the voting bloc that grew up with these games in such a “hip” way. On the other hand, it’s also pretty cynical to co-opt our collective childhood memories for the sake of a few votes. Still, Bayrou (or, again, his campaign planners) wins points for trying something new, and should be lauded for reaching out to the young, instead of falling back on the age-old tradition of convincing the elderly that all of the other candidates would steal their savings, corrupt national morality and euthanize anyone who goes within 20 feet of a hospital.

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