Maine Republicans have decided to engage in a rather unusual attack against a Democratic candidate running for state senate. Colleen Lachowicz plays the Orc Rogue Santiaga in World of Warcraft. Their attacks include this statement on the front of their attack site:
Colleen Lachowicz, AKA Santiaga, is a gamer in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW), which takes place in the make-believe land Azeroth. Today, Colleen/Santiaga is an orc assassination rogue playing at level 85–the highest level one can attain. She and the members of her “Wreck List Guild”—Colleen/Santiaga’s WoW online alliance—post comments to each other on liberal online forums including the Daily Kos, where they discuss politics, military policies, and WoW battle tactics.
Studies have found the average WoW gamer is 28, and spends 22.7 hours a week playing in Azeroth.
Republicans also claim that her playing of a Rogue- a class that uses poison and stealth to attack others- raises questions about her “fitness for office”.
Rogues in World of Warcraft are largely similar to assassins, spies and agents in the real world, or at least the real world of about five hundred years ago.
Lachowicz has hit back calling the Republicans “out of touch”. She is running against Republican incumbent Tom Martin for Maine’s state senate district 25. The attack page has also highlighted comments made by Lachowicz with regards to how her character Santiaga can kill mobs without suffering consequences like jail.
A Maine Republican spokesman stated “These are some very bizarre and offensive comments. They certainly raise questions about Lachowicz’s maturity and her ability to make serious decisions for the people of Senate District 25.”
In most games, players attack and kill either other players of the opposing faction or non-player characters known as ‘mobs’. Typically, these mobs belong to factions opposed to the faction that your character represents. So, for instance, an Orc Rogue would be called upon to kill Quillboars, a species of bipedal porcines who oppose Horde expansion into Durotar and the Barrens or they are called upon to kill Night Elf mobs who oppose Horde expansion into Ashara and Ashenvale. There would be no consequences because the killing is being done with the sanction of the prevailing government, Warchief Garrosh Hellscream, at least for the Horde.
Lachowicz stated that “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. Instead of talking about what they’re doing for Maine people, they’re making fun of me for playing video games.”
To put that into perspective, there are some 314 million people in the United States. World of Warcraft claims only about 10 million of that 183million. While Republicans appear to have had little benefit from attacking Lackowicz’ World of Warcraft habit, she has had several messages of support and even gotten some campaign contributions to boot.
The BBC talked to gaming researcher Ladan Cockshut about this row:
“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 BBC. “And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment.”
But, she added, having a gamer run for office was a “heartening” development.
“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.”