The democratic candidate from Maine, now State Senator Colleen Lachowicz was under fire from her Republican rival during the campaign due to her alter ego. It would be understandable that her political rival would question the ability of a person with multiple personality disorder to run for state Senate, however in this case the alter ego is not the product of a mental disorder, but a character that Lachowicz uses in World of Warcraft.
Santangia, a level 68 Orc rouge Assassin, is the World of Warcraft (WoW) persona that Lachowicz embodies during game play. As comical as it may be to most of the gaming community that WoW has now entered the realm of professional politics, this attack from rivals about her second life should not be taken lightly.
The attack ads insinuated that just by playing violent online games, a person is unfit for office. In what may seem an obvious response, Lachowicz’s camp was quick to respond with just how many people are in fact “gamers” and how that should make her involvement a positive in the eyes of voters, rather than a reason for alarm. In an interview with the Huffington Post Lechowicz states “I think it’s weird that I’m being targeted for playing online games. Apparently I’m in good company since there are 183 million other Americans who also enjoy online games. What’s next? Will I be ostracized for playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends? If so, guilty as charged!”
Time Magazine reports that according to The Entertainment Software Associations’ 2012 report, “the average U.S. household owns at least one game device, half own an average of two dedicated game consoles, the average gamer is 30 years old and has played video games for over a decade. Forty-seven percent of all gamers are women, and women aged 18 or older are one of the games industry’s fastest growing demographics.”
The attacks by the GOP didn’t stop at the mailers sent out, but extended to an entire website donning the name “Colleen’s World” which published many of the candidates in-game posts to discussion boards, and just general commentary on the game. If you look at the site, the “inflammatory comments” that the GOP is so startled by mainly consist of Lachowicz comparing unpleasant people in the game or general life to “tea baggers” (members of the extremely right-wing arm of the GOP titled the Tea Party).
The stereotypes promulgated by these attack ads, that gamers are inherently violent people, not only bode ill for the political world, but have the potential to make the lives of non-politico gamers more difficult. To the credit of the gaming community, gamers of all political stripes have come out of the woodwork to express their displeasure with the GOP’s tactics. In an NBC interview follow-up to the story Lachowicz, there is mention of another female gamer, this one a Republican who states “We may have different political views but I wont stand by while my fellow Horde are treated this way” on the Ms. Lachowicz’s facebook page.
After the November 6th elections’ the people of Maine spoke and showed that the tactics of attacking gamers is not an intelligent move. Ms. Lachowicz won her election and now represents Maine as a State Senator. Game on, Senator!