Sam Bee introduces app to drive voter turnout and get you paid

The mid-term elections are approaching like a runaway locomotive, and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” is introducing a new mobile trivia app. Its designed to not only make it easier to get out and vote, but to also give you the chance to share a cash prize for each game you play.

“This is Not a Game: The Game” hits app stores Sept. 12, but we got a sneak peek at a special event last week at the Helen Mills Theater in New York (see photos from the event below).

The app is essentially a daily trivia game that challenges users to answer 10 multiple-choice questions. Answer them all correctly and you’ll split that day's jackpot. In addition, users can help their chances by inviting friends, completing election-related "challenges" and checking their voter registration status.

We sat down with two of the driving forces behind this awesome app, Jessica Pratt (Marketing manager – TBS) and Gary Frenkel (Head of Digital Products & Operations - TBS/TNT), and got the low down on how this whole project came about, and what it could mean for the upcoming elections.

You can find “This is Not a Game: The Game” in the iOS or Google Play App Store right now!

TURNER(T): Hi, Jessica and Gary, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. First, tell us how this project came together?

Jessica Pratt (JP): About a year ago, Sam did a piece on “game-ification.” That’s the idea that if you incentivize people to do something, they're more likely to do it. When Sam looked ahead to the midterm elections, she wanted to take something that is sometimes seen as boring, which was voting, and make it really fun. We found a crazy statistic that more people play mobile games than voted in the last U.S. election. So, she had this idea to try and “game-ify” the election.

T: I think we should game-ify more things in life, you know? Anyway, how does the game work?

JP: It's set up as an appointment-based trivia game. Every day you'll get a notification to your phone that tells you to go and play the daily game by answering ten election-based trivia questions.

There are some pop-culture references mixed in, but they're written in the show voice, and so they're all really funny. At the end of the ten questions, if you make it all the way through without getting a question wrong, you will split the daily prize pool among everyone who makes it to the end successfully.

We’ve also built in a “challenges” section, which is a list of things that if you do them you're more likely to go vote. It will also have a space where you can sign up for voting reminders, and learn about polling places and things that actually get people to the polls in November.

Gary Frenkel (GF): We look at this as an extension of the digital ecosystem of the show. There will be a lot of shared resources between what we do in the TBS app and what we do in the Sam Bee app -  driving tune in, pushing people to the game, and figuring out ways to make it feel like it's all one world.



T: Now that we know how the game works, what role do each of you play in it?

GF: I oversee all of TBS’s and TNT's apps and the day-to-day upkeep and maintenance of those products. This app was already a fairly fleshed-out idea when it came to me. My role was to help them figure out, "How are we going to build this in the most efficient way possible? How do we leverage existing resources so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel?" We had to think through how we submit, how we track engagement, how we monitor product stability and how we notify people when the daily game is about to start, and how we communicate with them over email.

JP: I’ve been working on it from a marketing perspective and trying to figure out how to get as many people as possible to play the game. I have been in a lot of early conversations about what this game could be, what it would look like, and how we could make it something that people will want to do.

T: We haven’t talked much about Samantha Bee yet. How much input did she have in this whole process?

JP: Sam has been extremely involved. This is a project that she feels really passionate about. The game is completely non-partisan. Sam doesn't care how you vote; she just wants you to vote. She's been involved from day one, and basically every step of the app development process is routed back to her for her sign-off or her thoughts and ideas. So, she's been tweaking and changing things along the way.

GF: One other thing which I think is important is that the development of the game is also content for the show. Sam learning about the world of mobile games as a beginner creates a lot of comedy, which will be part of the show’s content as we lead up to the election.

JP: Sam also feels really strongly about the fact that there's this whole world of first-time voters in the 18-24 age range who haven't voted in a presidential election. She wants to reach those young people and not only get them something they might like to play, but also get them to the polls.

T: Is there anything else you wanted to add about the game?

GF: From my perspective, I just love that we're experimenting with different ways to reach our audience and, as we've been saying, to build new audiences. I think this is an interesting angle for us as we try to differentiate what we can do as a cable network from other ways people are consuming content nowadays. And, I love that we're taking these risks to try to find ways to engage people outside of just video content itself.

JP: From my perspective, people should play the game and give it five stars in the App Store!