Today is the day that the presidential debates begin here in the United States. The first one is tonight at 9 ET (the vice presidential debate follows on Oct. 11th and the final two presidential debates are Oct. 16th and 22nd). You can tune in via network TV of course, but this year there are other options. One is YouTube, which will be streaming the debates on its 2012 Election Hub and should take care of most of the cord cutters out there.
But Microsoft is trying to lure in another audience: Xbox gamers. Microsoft's Xbox Live service has its own Election Hub where they too will stream the debates. But just in case being an informed voter isn't reason enough to watch, Microsoft is going to sweeten the pot. Gamers who watch at least 3 of the 4 debates will get a set of Halo armor for their Xbox Live avatar.
In addition to this perk, Microsoft promises to bring some interactivity to the debates with real-time polls (and results). Poll topics can be suggested via Twitter by using hashtag #Xboxpoll.
Casting a slight pall over the otherwise civic-minded event is the fact that Microsoft's love of capitalism is a tad stronger than their love of democracy. The event is apparently limited to Xbox Live Gold members (it isn't completely clear from the wording on Major Nelson's blog if Gold is required to view the debates, or just to vote in the polls). An Xbox Live Gold membership costs $50-$60/year.
Watching the debates on YouTube, of course, will be free.
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