Politics are as vicious as any PvP game out there. Political opponents will trash talk with the best of them, political allies will quickly turn on one another if something goes wrong with their team, and on occasion, you may even get the occasional troll showing up at political rallies, trying to ruin the proceedings. What happens though, when our politicians are gamers? Should we expect emoticons in their press-releases? Do they say “GG, WP” to one another at the end of debates? Or in all seriousness, should we anticipate that these politicians fall prey to the same vices we see every day in the online world?
We in the gaming world know our fellow gamers better. The internet is full of quirky personalities and flippant, sometimes even explosive attitudes. A fellow gamer is more likely to rage at you, or tell you everything that’s wrong with your build, than adequately discuss the real life issues that address our society. That is not to say that people on the internet are unable to speak intelligently on an issue or adequately analyze any of these problems. In our own gaming experiences, many of us have had some very interesting conversation with some anonymous guy (or girl) named XxHot ShotxX, Pious Heretic, or Magic Chicken, but people with these avatar names are just as likely to engage us in the shallow owns and pwns of gaming chat.
We in the gaming world also know better about what kinds of time commitments our hobby takes. While TV shows like South Park might parody the gaming experience to extremes, and show four kids waste away into lardish piles of hot-pocket receptacles while they attempt to win a game, we gamers know these extremes are rare. Most of us are lawyers, students, business people, even fathers and mothers. Gaming is also an expensive hobby, and certainly attracts white-collar incomes more than blue-collar workers. So why does it feel weird, even for us, to think of our politicians as gamers? Wouldn’t it make sense that these highly successful people would also want to enjoy what is a growing source of entertainment?
Sure Lachowicz may have a level 85 character in WoW, evidence of an intense time commitment. Her forum posts have likewise been scrutinized and exploited in the political race, often being taken out of context in order to indicate some pattern of moral depravity. Despite all this, she is a successful person! She is married, has adopted children of her own, has a master’s degree, and has helped thousands as a social worker. She’s not the only gaming-politician success story either.
While Lachowicz is merely running for a position in state government, we have actually seen the election of gamers to congress. Colorado Representative, Jared Polis, is an avid gaming fan who plays League of Legends (LoL), and has even taken political actions based on his favorite pastime. Polis’ public denouncement of the infamous SOPA legislation even made its way onto the LoL forums (where they even gave him a special forum avatar). What’s more is that not only Polis is a gamer and successful two-term congressman, he is also married, a foster parent and an accomplished business man (so successful in fact, that he is on the list of the top 10 wealthiest congressmen).
So why is the public, or perhaps even us gamers, alarmed when we hear that gamers are in politics? Perhaps what alarms us the most is the girth of negative experiences that have witnessed as gamers. Each of us have likely had that one day where we should have worked more on a homework assignment or gone to the gym, but we skipped it to enjoy our favorite pass-time. Furthermore, anyone who has played a multiplayer video game has also experienced the toxic attitudes from our fellow gamers that tend to dampen our gaming experience. Heck, many of us have probably fallen to the vice of trolling, taunting or insulting others, because at the end of the day, we know that we’re a nameless and faceless entity on the other end of a wire that doesn’t have to face the people we interact with. It is because of these negative experiences that we doubt a gamer as a politician. We wonder, “If our fellow gamers are like this, and to some extent, we’re like this, what are they like?”
In a vacuum, thinking about our politicians as gamers might be frightful. In truth, all people, gamer or not, are really complex individuals with some truly great qualities and some poor qualities. Each of us is capable of the good and the bad, and we readily accept that our politicians are capable of the ugly, yet still the possibility gives our society pause. Regardless of your political alignment, it’s time for us gamers to let the public know that we are people too! Sure we have a pastime, but let people around you know that you are successful and accomplished, and you enjoy your video games too!
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