The Liberal Party of Australia is using video games as a way to appeal to younger voters on TikTok and it’s one of the weirder political strategies I’ve ever seen.
Browsing TikTok on my way home from work the other night, the app served me a video on Lethal Company, the recent indie hit blowing up the Steam sales charts. The video, headlined This Is Why Australians Can’t Play This Game (TW), shows a supposed multiplayer game of Lethal Company in which two players move through a derelict factory. A monster leaps out for a jump scare, overlaid with the face of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the word “Taxes” in block capitals. The player retreats screaming as audio from an Albanese speech plays.
As political attack ads go, I think we can all agree, it’s pretty low-hanging fruit. The ad — because that’s what all of the account’s TikToks truly are, ads — was authorised by current Liberal Party Federal Director Andrew Hirst.
Another video uses the now-standard dual video TikTok template. You’ve probably seen this one before: the screen split in two, the top half often playing a YouTube video, the bottom half a video of Minecraft jump-level gameplay (or similar). The Liberal Party used this template to run an attack ad on various Labor policies. It did this using footage of a custom Only Up-style level in Fortnite while rattling off nonsense about Labor policies in a conspiratorial tone. The video, which uses an AI voice-over, asserts TikTok is trying to “censor” its videos, issuing a supposed warning over Labor’s proposed Misinformation Act in a style that mirrors many conspiracy videos on the platform.
The account has repeated this strategy multiple times.
It even tried to get in on Fortnite OG hype, complete with AI-generated images of the Prime Minister.
It appears the Liberal Party’s social media team only cottoned onto the video game strategy recently. Previous videos were leveraging CapCut templates, and displayed a particular fondness for characters from Chris Lilley shows.
The worst part is that this tactic seems to be working for them. Its video game-themed videos have racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Comments attempting to dunk on the account only feed into the TikTok algorithm, which views the videos as generating discourse, propelling them into a larger slice of the TikTok audience. The repeated reliance on urgent “Share This Video Before It Gets Taken Down” messaging also sends viewers to the share and copy link buttons, which are one of TikTok’s most valuable metrics. Observations of the TikTok algo suggest that shares can supercharge a video’s reach.
A quick look at the Australian Labor Party TikTok reveals that they are also partial to a CapCut template, but have not cottoned onto the algorithmic rocket fuel of video games just yet. Labor’s presence on the app tends to gas up its own plans as often as it takes potshots at the Liberals, so at least they have something else on their minds.
Kotaku Australia has reached out to the Liberal Party comms team for comment. We’ll update this yarn if they get back to us.
Image: Liberal Party of Australia, TikTok