Biden campaign launches Fortnite custom map, complete with No Malarkey train station

Biden's Fortnite drop-in comes as a record 90 million Americans have already cast their votes. — AFP

LOS ANGELES: With just days to go before Election Day in the United States, the Biden-Harris campaign kicked off a new get-out-the-vote effort in Fortnite, Epic Games' popular battle royale game.

The former Democratic VP's presidential campaign on Oct 30 launched "Build Back Better With Biden", a custom map in Fortnite located in "Reboot City" that encourages players to vote and lets them engage in challenges tied to Biden-Harris platform themes. After arriving at the No Malarkey Station, visitors can play up to six mini-games centred on such topics as clean energy, eco-cleanup, 5G broadband buildout and research.

At this point, it's largely preaching to the choir. Biden's Fortnite drop-in comes as a record 90 million Americans have already cast their votes. But the campaign's promotional use of the game is another notable example Democrats' recognition of the power of video games to reach millions of younger-skewing voters (notwithstanding that Fortnite is currently not available on Apple platforms amid a legal spat between Epic and Apple over the tech giant's App Store policies).

The Biden-Harris campaign announced the Fortnite map early on Oct 31.

"With voting underway and days until Election Day, we are continuing to meet people everywhere they are online and offline with innovative and thoughtful activations," Biden-Harris digital partnerships director Christian Tom said in a statement to Mashable, which first reported on the activation. The Fortnite map is aimed at "engaging players in a substantive, approachable and fun way to reach and mobilise voters."

Fornite players can locate the Biden-Harris map using the code 0215-4511-1823. Any Fortnite player can create their own custom map using Fortnite Creative, the sandbox game-within-a-game tool that Epic launched in early 2019.

Similarly, the Biden-Harris campaign last month set up an exclusive island in Nintendo's hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons social game. And Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch where she played Among Us, the popular murder-mystery game, alongside Representative Ilhan Omar and top Twitch livestreamers.

The "Build Back With Biden" map in Fortnite features signs directing players to visit the Democratic National Committee's website and to text "Fortnite" to 30330 to get voting info.

The Biden-Harris Fortnite map also lets you visit "Joe's Famous Ice Cream Shop" and go on a scavenger hunt to find all 10 of Senator Kamala Harris' sneakers dotted around the virtual city. –

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