“So I’m a level 68 orc rogue girl. That means I stab things…a lot! Who would have thought that a peace-lovin’, social worker and democrat would enjoy that?!” This was the statement that won World of Warcraft gamer Colleen Lachowicz a seat in Maine’s State Senate.
Democrat Colleen Lachowicz has recently won a seat representing Maine’s Senate District 25, and believe it or not, her Republican adversaries helped her to it. It just so happens that Colleen is an avid gamer who spends a lot of time playing the incredibly popular online multiplayer video-game World of Warcraft. In this fantasy universe she is known as Santiaga, a level 85 orc rogue assassin, who as the player herself admits, spends a lot of time stabbing things. Little did she know that her gaming antics would actually help her win a seat in the State Senate. Apparently, her Republican Party rivals thought it would be a good idea to set up a website portraying Lachowicz as someone with a “bizarre double life”, and making her look like a violent person by describing her in-game behavior. This uninspired smear campaign actually won Lachowicz international support from the gaming community and eventually helped her won the race for the Senate.
You could say Colleen Lachowicz made gaming history with her victory. As Fruzsina Eördögh, from ReadWrite, points out “Gamers can be doctors, lawyers, and now, even state senators.” On her site, Colleen points out that nowadays over 65% of American homes house a gamer, and the average age for a video-game enthusiast is now 34, so questioning if a candidate is fit for office just because they’re playing video games in their spare time is the same as complaining about someone listening to “that loud rock and roll music”. “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,” gaming researcher Ladan Cockshut told the BBC. “And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment.”
Taking forum posts Lachowicz made on various World of Warcraft fan sites, Republicans questioned her maturity and ability to make rational decisions for the people of Senate District 25, as if someone’s actions in a video game can be used to characterize their real life. Luckily, the whole thing backfired and Santiaga gained even more support from fellow gamers, who actually donated money for her campaign. “It just really goes to show that I think those of us who do play games are eager for it not to be stereotyped anymore,” Colleen said about all the help she got from the gaming community.