With Wednesday’s US presidential debate looming, debate-themed drinking games are popular on social media websites, a trend creators say could make any heavily scripted political event more bearable.
“There’s four more weeks until the election. We’re all going to want to get drunk before it’s over,” joked Joel Masthis, a political columnist and creator of a game that rewards players with shots at key moments in the debate.
There are no shortages of games to pick from on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter using new search terms like DebateGames.
“Lots of presidential debate drinking games floating around the interwebs today,” said one Tweet posted Wednesday afternoon from a woman in Washington. “By the looks of it, 99% of DC will be hungover tomorrow.”
For the uninitiated, here’s how debate drinking games work. First, pick a candidate. The next part is easy: take a shot (or sip) anytime that candidate uses a catchphrase on the list. In Masthis’ game, for example, each time U.S. President Barack Obama uses the term “middle class” or his opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says “Obamacare” take a shot.
Masthis identifies three moving parts of any modern-day presidential debate: the candidates, the media, and Twitter. The latter, he says, has changed the way American’s watch political events and have served as the legs that carried drinking games from college frat houses to debate watching parties across the country.
“You aren’t watching alone in your living room anymore,” Masthis says. Instead, he says viewers are now joined by hundreds of their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Social media, he says, keeps people more engaged, and drinking games gives viewers’ power.
Some drinking games have special rules that apply to both candidates. The website Conservative Intel’s version instructs players to chug if a candidate goes over their allotted time on a question and to keep chugging until the debate moderator stops them.
Not much of a drinker? Well there’s a game for you too, it’s called “Lingo Bingo.” Players listen out for phrases listed on a card like “the 47 percent” or “you didn’t build that,” cross off five in a row and you win.
“Let’s face it, there won’t be much of news or new insights, and yet these debates and speeches are a necessary part of our civic life,” explained Masthis in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s a way to dull the edge of the pain of watching people say exactly what we know they are going to say, so we turn it into a game.”