Capitol & State

Build a wall with Mexico? Boise State junior’s app lets users decide

A screenshot of BSU junior Sean Weech’s app, “The Wall: A Social experiment.”
A screenshot of BSU junior Sean Weech’s app, “The Wall: A Social experiment.”

Build the wall, or tear it down?

A Boise State engineering student has built an app that lets users decide. Calling it a “social experiment,” his game-like app uses that much-debated question as a proxy for picking a presidential candidate.

As such, it’s a kind of survey for the smartphone set.

“I just really wanted people to be able to voice their opinion easier,” said Sean Weech, a BSU junior from Anacortes, Wash. “I feel like the younger generation doesn’t have as much voice as they should and I just wanted the game to be an outlet for people to do that.”

Here’s how it works: Users add or subtract bricks from a wall to indicate their general preference for a candidate or policy. Initially, Level 1 users can add or remove only one brick at a time.

But just as in American politics, it’s a pay-to-play scenario. Watch an ad in the app and your influence, and bricking ability, increases. Users see both the number of bricks they have added or removed as well as the running total.

Weech launched the game Aug. 1, initially with 100,000 bricks. He saw that number of bricks in the wall drop nearly to zero — advantage: Hillary Clinton — before it bounced back. Now, the number is a little over 1 million, decidedly pro-Donald Trump.

It’s not exactly a scientific count: Your ability to add or subtract bricks is limited only by how nimble you are with your thumbs.

The game has about 150 downloads combined on the Android and iOS platforms, but users as far away as Germany, Australia, and Singapore are playing.

“I actually woke up in the middle of the night one night and had this idea. I just started drawing it on a piece of paper,” Weech said.

He aimed the app primarily at his peers, many of whom are at best ambivalent about the choice between Clinton and Trump. He himself is “trying to stay pretty neutral” — likely a good strategy for a budding entrepreneur.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD