Washington, D.C. — With less than seven hours until congressional brinksmanship would shut down the U.S. government for the first time in 17 years, a freshman Republican congressman boarded a plane destined for his home district in Mississippi.
In the game “Government in Action,” students play as congress members competing for political capital in a bid for reelection.
He had just lost a battle to pass a bill that would mandate school uniforms, a piece of legislation that he failed to convince a single other member to co-sponsor.
Soon, he would head back to Washington to meet with a group of government lobbyists to learn how they could help him.
The congressman, known simply as Rep. Smith, doesn’t seem to have a first name. In fact, he doesn’t seem to even have a body apart from his well-dressed torso. That’s because he is an online computer game avatar, one of many available characters in McGraw-Hill Education’s “Government in Action.”
The congressman’s quest to win support for his school uniform plan, and ultimately reelection, was playing out Sept. 30 on a large monitor in a congressional meeting room. McGraw-Hill representatives had come to the Capitol building to demonstrate some of its software for congressional leaders.
While the timing was coincidental, Jeff Livingston, McGraw-Hill’s senior vice president of education policy and strategic alliances, couldn’t resist slipping in a barb as the shutdown loomed.
“This is Government in Action,” Livingston said to one senate staff member, motioning to the game. “Or today, it could just be called Government Inaction.”
All joking and nervous laughter aside, the event was an attempt by McGraw-Hill to help dispel any outdated notions that the publisher is simply a textbook company.
Like Pearson Learning, McGraw-Hill is increasingly pushing the idea that they are an “education company.”
See Page 2 for what steps McGraw-Hill is taking to remain relevant in the digital age.