Why The Gamer Vote Should Be Recognized In The 2016 Election

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been stereotyped as lazy, apathetic or a threat to society because I play video games.

I’m not the exception, either.

For years, gamers like me have been typecast as a fringe demographic and completely detached from their communities and reality.

Data from the Entertainment Software Association reveals 155 million Americans play video games. The average gamer age is 35 years old.

Today, video games are a major part of our lives, with iconic characters and franchises recognizable across generations.

Games such as "Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3," "Halo 5: Guardians" and "Fallout 4" compete for the title of "biggest entertainment launch of 2015," with sales numbers outperforming major blockbuster films, including "Jurassic World" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

Even with this incredible popularity, acceptance and influence in pop culture, gamers continue to get a bum rap both in the media and with politicians.

We’ve finally had enough.

This election season, the Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) is taking up the torch and facing these stereotypes head-on, with a new campaign called Start Democracy.

Start Democracy aims to register gamers to vote, provide a platform to discuss issues that matter most to them and seek opportunities to connect candidates directly to the video game community.

Campaign managers seeking a victory for their candidates in 2016 would be wise to listen to what the video game community has to say, or they risk missing out on a highly engaged audience.

Why, you ask?

The positive qualities that unite gamers also make them a strong block of voters worthy of political attention.

We’re not overgrown teenagers sitting in our parents’ basements. We are concerned citizens who are passionate about real-world problems.

We are a community of over 114 million eligible voters.

We’re so passionate, our election turnout (82 percent) outstrips the national average.

As a recent study shows, it’s not about towing party lines for us.

It’s about finding viable solutions to the issues.

You probably know plenty of gamers.

We are friends, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We worry about the educational and economic problems our children will have to face.

We are students and young adults concerned about our own futures.

We are also artists, designers, engineers and innovators who are constantly looking for new and better ways to solve society’s challenges, both real and virtual.

This election season, Start Democracy will recognize the civic value of gamers, and will allow them to make their voices heard in the democratic process.

The way we see it, gamers aren’t just important for building a better republic.

They’re required.

To learn more about VGVN and Start Democracy, visit www.videogamevoters.org or follow us on Twitter @VideoGameVoters.