In 2018 Chris Stokes and Nancy Viano (a Boise State alum) founded What the Vote! A local, volunteer-run, nonpartisan program dedicated to registering and educating young voters. Since the program began, WTV! volunteers have registered more than 7,000 students at high schools and on college campuses to vote. The organization, “mostly grandmas and older people,” Stokes said, continued to grow. It created a website and gained a sponsor, the American Association of University Women. It produced a PSA and a civics video for teachers when COVID-19 made classroom visits impossible.
Stokes, Viano and the other volunteers kept looking for ways to connect with students and hit upon the idea of creating an educational game. They heard about the Games, Interactive Media, and Mobile program at Boise State and its teams of students that develop technological solutions for clients. An anonymous donation allowed What the Vote! to hire a GIMM team to develop an in-class game. The game polls students on timely issues and spurs constructive conversation.
“We’re giving them a tool to start thinking about an idea and to think through issues that impact their lives,” Viano said. She praised the GIMM students’ “energy, professional work ethic and the excitement to make things better.”
Stokes called Boise State “an endless resource for all of us in the community.” “Anthony Ellertson (GIMM director) heard us, honed in, and understood what we needed. He got the students together and guided them. Dr. Ellertson built a partnership with us. And it’s one I hope will continue,” she added.