Video games don’t matter in politics

Nick Scheuer

Politicians are always in the public eye. This is especially true during the election, when attack advertisements are flying back and forth between candidates and parties. While most of these ads are dubious at best, sometimes one is released that crosses the line into being offensive.

That line was crossed when the Republican Party of Maine attacked Colleen Lachowicz, candidate for the Maine state senate, for playing “World of Warcraft.” WoW, as the video game is colloquially known, is an online multiplayer fantasy roleplaying game where the player creates a character to save the world.

This world-saving involves violence, and that, according to Time magazine, is what the GOP’s advertisement is attacking. The organization has put together a website,, and it is using quotes from her posts on WoW forums as an attempt at claiming she is a violent person, thus unfit to run for office.

This stereotype of gamers becoming more violent as a result of their hobby is ludicrous and needs to be stopped. Yet, even though there has been a significant amount of outrage directed at the attack ad, the GOP has not shut down the website. The party seems to be taking the position that attacking a politician because she plays video games is an acceptable stereotype to perpetuate and base criticism upon.

How a politician spends her free time should not influence if people vote for her or not, much less what an attack ad should focus on, as long as the hobby in question is legal. In fact, it is widely known that the vice presidential nominee for the GOP in 2008, Sarah Palin, is a hunter. Although, she committed acts of violence in real life and not a video game, she was not criticized for being a hunter; she was criticized for her views on certain policies.

These kinds of personal attacks on politicians are unethical regardless of what aspect of their personality is being attacked or which politician is being attacked, but it is downright infuriating when such an advertisement takes advantage of a stereotype for such an attack.

Imagine if the Democratic Party ran an advertisement on vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan asserting he is unfit for office because he exercises often, and that could make him too aggressive to be a good vice president. The response would be tremendously loud and the ad would be pulled as soon as possible, as it should.

That kind of response is what the ad attacking Lachowicz received, yet the site remains. Nerds, and by extension nerdy hobbies, are not taken seriously by the media or society at large. Video games are still viewed as being solely a child’s plaything, even though the average age of a WoW player, according to even to the attack site, is actually 28. These 10.2 million players are mostly fully functioning adults with jobs to pay the monthly subscription fee of $14.99 that WoW requires.

The GOP attacked Lachowicz because people who play video games are already ridiculed by the media and the organization seemed to think they could take advantage of the prevailing attitude regarding gamers. This is not an unusual stance for the GOP to take, as Fox News criticized the National Endowment for the Arts last year for including interactive games in the organization’s definition of art. The conservative news network claimed commercial games would be receiving federal funding from the NEA, even though the requirements to receive such funding explicitly denies commercial games from qualifying.

Whether this bigoted tactic worked or not will be revealed on Election Day. Hopefully it doesn’t.


Nick can be reached at: [email protected]