Fantasy Congress Launches a New Game of Politics
Claremont McKenna College Students' New Game Yields List of Most Active and
Least Active U.S. Legislators
CLAREMONT, Calif., Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Politics isn't just a spectator sport anymore. A team of students at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) today officially launched Fantasy Congress (www.fantasycongress.us), a free, interactive web site inspired by the sports fantasy league phenomenon. Players draft teams of actual U.S. legislators and pit them against each other in competition. The Fantasy Congress creators hope the game will inspire individuals to pay as much attention to government as they do to sports. "If people cared about politics as much as they care about sports, we'd have a better democracy," said CMC Senior Andrew Lee, one of the masterminds behind Fantasy Congress. "Fantasy Congress hopes to create a more accountable government and a better educated electorate. Congress needs to know that young people are watching them, just as they watch sports teams and athletes." The idea for Fantasy Congress came to Lee while living with a roommate preoccupied with fantasy football. Lee, who describes himself as "obsessed with politics," thought someone should create a similar game, where instead of drafting quarterbacks or shortstops, players draft members of Congress to play on their team. Lee then looked to three fellow students at the highly competitive, small liberal arts college and used start-up funds from a College business plan competition to help build the interactive web site. Fantasy Congress encourages people to "play politics" by becoming citizen- managers of teams of legislators, receiving points based on the performance of their team's legislation. Points vary depending on the kind of legislation and the stage accomplished by each piece of legislation. For example, introduced bills receive five points, while bills that have been passed and agreed to by the chamber receive 30 points. As legislators accumulate points by doing the people's work in Congress, players can draft new legislators, drop the least active from their teams, and even trade with other players for more highly active legislators. "By giving players a chance to 'do' politics online, Fantasy Congress will help them understand Congress," said CMC Crocker Professor of Government Jack Pitney who advised the students in developing the game. "Fantasy Congress is a unique exercise, allowing anyone to manage a team of lawmakers. As a classroom teacher, I've been waiting for something like this for a long time. There are plenty of sites with information about Congress. This one is truly interactive." Fantasy Congress has created the most comprehensive legislative database outside of the Library of Congress. Already Fantasy Congress has identified a top 10 list of the most active legislators as well as the 10 least active. Topping the most active list is John Warner, Republican from Virginia. The Fantasy Congress team, which includes software architects Arjun Lall '07 and Ian Hafkenschiel '08, graphic designer Ethan Andyshak '06 along with Lee, worked closely with a group of professors at CMC to develop the site and its content. The initial version of Fantasy Congress was beta-tested with Truman Scholars around the United States. More than 50 leagues have already been started across the country, including Brown University, Seton Hall, Louisiana State University, and Kansas. To find out more or to give Fantasy Congress a try, visit www.fantasycongress.us. Contact: Evie Lazzarino, 909-607-9099 email@example.com
SOURCE Claremont McKenna College
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