October 7, 2012

Candidate’s ‘World Of Warcraft’ Habit Becomes Political Lightning Rod

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Senator by day, Orc Assassination Rogue by night? Not if the opponents of Maine Democrat and World of Warcraft enthusiast Colleen Lachowicz have anything to say about it.

It seems that Lachowicz's online gaming hobbies have become the target of her Republican Party opposition, who are accusing her of leading a "time-consuming double life" as her alter-ego, a level 85 Orc Assassin Rogue named Santiaga, according to Fox News reports.

According to Poltico reporter Steve Friess, Lachowicz's website reports that the candidate, who is challenging incumbent state Senator Tom Martin in the south-central part of Maine, has a master's degree in social work. She is also involved in helping out a mental health center, once served as her hometown's Democratic Party chairperson and is the vice chairwoman for the county party.

However, the Maine Republican Party also points out that the average World of Warcraft gamer spends slightly over 22 hours per week playing the game, and that comments made by Lachowicz on her blog at the liberal website Daily Kos refer to her "stabbing things“¦ a lot" in the game. Various entries also reportedly make reference to Lachowicz being "lazy" and "seriously slacking off at work," as well as references to going to "hunt down [conservative activist] Grover Norquist and drown him in my bathtub" and explicit language.

"These are some very bizarre and offensive comments," Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen in an October 4 statement. "They certainly raise questions about Lachowicz's maturity and her ability to make serious decisions for the people of Senate District 25."

Lachowicz responded with a statement of her own, in which she said, “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!”

"Instead of talking about what they´re doing for Maine people, they´re making fun of me for playing video games," she added. "Did you know that more people over the age of 50 play video games than under the age of 18? As a gamer, I´m in good company with folks like Jodie Foster, Vin Diesel, Mike Myers, and Robin Williams. Maybe it´s the Republican Party that is out of touch."

As BBC News reported Friday, it is currently unclear what impact the Republican-led campaign against Lachowicz will have on the race. That said, the British news organization said the Democrat has received several messages of support and even a few promises of campaign donations in the wake of the anti-World of Warcraft crusade.

Can being "outed" as a gamer be a bad thing? Ladan Cockshut, a researcher studying the hobby, told the BBC News in some cases, the answer is yes.

"In my work, I've spoken with many people who in their regular lives have roles of significant responsibility (as doctors, managers, or educators) but who choose carefully with whom they disclose their gaming activity," she told the British news agency. "And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment."

Lachowicz's campaign could change all of that, though, according to Cockshut.

"This would seem to run contrary to the other stereotypes that we love to assign to gamers: that they are lazy, antisocial people who don't have a 'real life'," she said. "Maybe this will trigger some dialogue about our perceptions of gamers and the role that games can and should play in modern society."