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Gaming in WoP (the World of Politics)

/ Oct 26th, 2012 5 Comments

WoP
WoP

Collen Lachowicz and her WoW avatar Santiaga.

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?

These are some of the questions that voters in Maine are currently facing, as gamer Colleen Lachowicz runs for the State Senate. Lachowicz openly confesses that one of her favorite pastimes is playing World of Warcraft (WoW), where she has reached level 85 on her Orc rogue assassin. The political fall-out was inevitable and predictable.  Her political opponents have bashed her for spending so much time on a seemingly violent and wasteful enterprise, while her allies argue that what she does in her free time should not matter to voters.

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!

Feel free to share with Gaming Illustrated what you think in the comments below!

Danny Berkman

Danny Berkman

Associate Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Danny Berkman is an avid gamer specializing in RPGs, 4X games, and MOBA.
Danny Berkman

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  • King Varian Wrynn

    I’m torn about this. It shouldn’t matter than she’s a gamer, there’s gamers everywhere and to act like it’s some deviant thing in this day and age is ridiculous, and more proof that the baby boomer generation can’t die off soon enough.

    BUT, this isn’t any game we’re dealing with here. This is World of Warcraft. I personally would not vote for this woman unless I could see her time played on the game. I’ve got over 2500 hours logged on WoW, and I can tell you, hardcore WoW players are mostly degenerates and losers, and none of them deserve to or should hold public office. It is a game that eats your soul and your personality. She may be a good person on paper, but seriously. WoW is bad. Very, very, very bad. Not just any game. It is the worst kind of game imaginable, played by the worst kind of people imaginable.

  • BehemothDave

    So being a gamer, and a father, husband, and employee. I have to say how is it different that a person’s hobby is video games, dungeons and dragons, or some other past time. IF someone has a room full of model planes do we scoff and say “OH MY! Look at all the time they spend doing this, they must get nothing else done.” or can we look at it objectively and realize that a hobby is just that, a hobby.

    Hobbiests often attack their hobbys with such enthusiasm that it borders on fanaticism, is it different because it is a digital realm? I think not.

  • Ethan Smith

    I’m going to have to disagree with calling a single 85 an “intense time commitment,” especially in this case. A quick look at her armory page shows that she has barely played in the last year, and her gear is all blues and greens from the beginning of the LAST expansion. When she was on, she was apparently doing cooking and fishing achievements.

  • Danny Berkman

    Well, I think its fair to say there’s still a lot unknown about Lachowicz the person or how she would be as a politician. Not all players in the WoW community are degenerates, and the term “hardcore player” is hard to quantify. It is clear that she is an active forum poster, and not all of them are flattering. There are websites out there that highlight some of her posts (some even parse her posts in order to smear her reputation). There have also been many interviews and written responses to her claimed criticisms. She points out what Ethan Smith has noticed, that she has not played much since committing to run for office, understandable considering the much larger time commitment that politics demands.

    There’s lots of information out there available for those who are interested, and I would encourage you to look up the issue as the political season wraps up!

  • Danny Berkman

    Interesting update … both Colleen Lachowicz and Jared Polis won their elections. Lachowicz will be serving her first term in the Maine State Senate, and Polis will be serving his third term as a US House member representing Colorado’s 2nd District.

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