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Jan 28, 2008



Once upon a time, I remember Hillary Clinton campaigning against role-playing games like D&D. Can't find anything to corroborate that, so maybe it was just a rumor, but I remember she seemed to be pretty strongly against them.

Currently pro-Obama, as I'm not a fan of Hillary's political strategies... big reader of GP.com by the way.

Given success in the courts gaming doesn't seem like a big reason to change a vote, as I doubt a president would have much impact, but it's one part of why I'm not pro-Hillary.


I'm not sure how intense the general gamer's interest is in gaming related politics but I don't think the community is devoid of it.

Although I'm at risk of shamelessly plugging I could point you to a recent blog on the site that I work for:



I am also pro-Obama at this point. My choice to vote against Hillary does include her previous record of anti-video game legislation. However, I feel that if a candidate was perfect in everything else (lol, couldn't write that with a straight face) except their views on video games then that alone would not be enough for me to not vote for them.

Also on the question on if gamers vote look at the video game voters network.




GamePolitics is one of the few blogs that I read 100% of the time.

I have to say that Hillary's obviously ignorant stance towards gaming culture in her proposed legislation was the main thing that disgusted me about her campaign (obviously the list has now grown).

If she had not shown such a blatant willingness to pander to the fearful parents of America by pushing kneejerk legislation the way she did, I might have been more open to the rest of her message, but blanket dismissal and marginalization has that effect on people, I suppose :-P

It was also Obama's very tech-friendly leaning that impressed me about him (I think it was in an interview on TechCrunch), and while I don't believe he ever addressed games directly, I have faith that he is a forward-thinking enough individual to treat them with the respect they deserve as a legitimate segment of our culture.


I think the last thing I’d care about, are the political views of a presidential candidate on gaming. Using “gaming”, as an aspect in your campaign, is a rather cheap and dirty move altogether. You'll get the votes of all 65+ and religious conservatives by promising to tighten the regulations, but it'll only show me, and hopefully everybody else on this blog, that you haven't got any strong points to campaign for (or that you're trying to mask them), if you bring up minor aspects like that. I certainly wouldn't want to be lead by a leader, who spends a considerable amount of time dealing with ESRB-ratings. However, the masses are in-fact easily influenceable and, to a certain degree, stupid enough to be lead by a carrot like this.

On the global scale, I'd prefer a leader, who is more liberal in his views. This includes gaming and entertainment as a whole. That being said, I'm no American and have a greater concern for your environmental and foreign policy rather than your gaming censure.


I tend to see politicians' anti-gaming stances as attempts to appeal to "morality" and "family values" voters and I don't believe that they actually know much or care at all about the issue. I do take into account that I believe that candidate to be someone capable of pretending to care about issues when I vote.

The actual stance on gaming really seems to be a non-issue however since it seems to me that video games will continue to be protected under the first amendment. I have heard one gamer friend mention Hillary's anti-gaming stance as a reason to not vote for her. Most of my friends are gamers and we all vote.


I remember Hillary's backward, kneejerk reaction to gaming with the same fondness that Aaron does. That, and her 2005 co-sponsorship of a anti-flag burning amendment, are just some of the reasons that I think of her as willow in the wind of conservative America.

Most of the ppl I know socially play video games, and everyone votes.


Despite the fact that gaming is my livelihood, I don't see how gaming can play a significant role in making a judgement about a presidential candidate. Video games are almost entirely for rich people (if you have a video game console or a PC you're already far better off than most of the world's population), and how rich people spend their entertainment time is a pretty minor issue, to me, compared to issues that affect the entire world, like the environment or America's foreign policy.

Yes, I'm without question in favor of very liberal views when it comes to anything regarding game regulation but as other people have pointed out, in the US the 1st Amendment seems to be giving us the protection we need.



I don't read sites like the ones mentioned. I support Obama. Gaming policy is not part of my position and I don't think it is relevant...the policy I prefer is part & parcel of a much larger set of policy positions. I haven't missed voting in an election since Jimmy Carter.


I agree with Matt and Nicholas, our elected leaders got one or two higher priorities.

But as for rich people... that Earned Income Credit enacted by a president named Clinton provides for an awful lot of HDTVs, console systems, graphics cards and games to people who otherwise wouldn't be able to buy that stuff.

And history might say the Clinton presidency was the golden age of tech. Which is a bit more tangible than what somebody SAYS in some tech crunch interview.

Although I do recall them saying they inherited solid economic management from Bush Sr. Somehow, I doubt they'll be saying that this time around.

As it turns out, they're all tax-and-spend, just a question of what they spend it on.


Actually, there are a couple issues related to gaming, and especially MMO gaming and Virtual Worlds, which are political hot buttons.

1) Taxation of internet transactions

2) Censorship and regulation of digital media

Any industry that generates the amount of income that gaming does will have political interests. Even if the average player isn't heavy into politics, you can bet that the developement and publishing companies are. I would assume that Sony and Nintendo have favorite candidates and lobyists working hard to forward their agendas.

I, for one, was quite terrified when I heard about McCain's stance on issues 1 and 2 above. At the time I heard them I thought to myself: "that's okay, he'll never be President". lol at me. So yeah, in answer to your question I'm a voter and issues that affect my daily life will influence my vote in November (already have influenced my vote in the SC Republican Primary).


Since I agree with most of what's been said (e.g., gaming is not a big political issue, but as SVgr said, we are approaching a time when virtual world/MMO issues will be on platforms), I'll just say it's weird to see so many lining up for Obama - I'm voting/rooting for him too. But I guess the sample size is still pretty small!


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about politics and games. Not just about games *in* politics, but games *as* politics (and politics as a game).

Area 51: Black Site sucked, which is too bad because it was a game that tried (perhaps too hard) to have a political message. BioShock *didn't* suck, and the entire game is an indictment of Objectivism and the political theories (including neo-conservatism and libertarian anarcho-capitalism) that derive from it. Call of Duty 4 has a sequence where you are confronted with the inevitability of your own death in a nuclear explosion because of a political/diplomatic screwup.

So we're seeing political statements in games that go beyond the ham-handed adver-gaming inspired trivialities of the "Serious Games" movement.

On the other hand, politics *as* a game, political actors and operators gaming the system, is a serious problem right now. Rove and Luntz are the worst examples, but mostly for being front-runners, they have plenty of disciples and the whole system has become more and more game-like. Look at the parliamentary maneuvers that have paralyzed the Democratic Congress' ability to perform any oversight, and tell me that's not a strategy-game rules-lawyering mindset at work.

All that being said, I think we have bigger problems right now than a candidate's stance on game regulation. Even for me, the fact that Hillary is pandering for votes on games is just one of the *many* places she is obviously pandering, and if it comes down to her as the lesser of two evils, video games won't weigh too heavily in the equation. I can find ways to game a regulatory system and still make good games.

All other things being equal, I'm hoping for Barack Obama and I neither know nor care about his stance on games. It genuinely never occurred to me to check, make of that what you will.



Here in the UK we have a prime minister who wants video games not to feature knives because people are getting stabbed.

Gawd knows what he'll do when he finds out we have fireballs...



Thanks, Ted (and commenters) for an absolutely fabulous post and comment thread. This would be a fascinating topic for a panel discussion on my weekly Metanomics interview series in Second Life. It surely falls solidly within the "business and policy of virtual worlds" category.

I don't think I have a prayer of getting Hillary Clinton, but I suspect there are a number of politicians, activists, and staffers on both sides of this issue that we could get to appear. So, can people recommend names, and I will try to make this happen?

Standards for the show: guests should be both articulate and influential. For a topic like this, it helps if they have clear stands on the issues, so that we can represent multiple perspectives.

Maybe Ted can talk to some folks as he rubs shoulders with the high and mighty this week!


I absolutely factor in a candidate's position on video games when I decide who I am voting for.


When I saw this topic, my first thoughts mirrored Aaron's almost exactly. Hillary's stance on games was one of the first things that turned me off about her, but the list has grown significantly since.

As a professional video game designer, politics about games absolutely impact my livelihood, and thus affect my vote -- the same as a candidate's stance on companies who ship jobs overseas, taxes for small businesses, regulation/taxation of the internet, etc. A candidate who was out to demonize video games and censor my right to free speech as an artist would absolutely lose my vote, no matter what other issues of theirs I agreed with. I can't support someone who doesn't support me.

As far as who gamers are voting for, I don't know that there is any correlation between being a gamer and who you'll vote for. People of all different ages, backgrounds, family types, religions, income, and location are gamers, and there's a reason why so many guilds have rules against discussing politics in-game. That said, the polls have shown that many young voters are voting for Obama, rather than staying home and playing video games on election day. So who knows, perhaps in the end it will be the gamers -- or the Gamer Generation, anyway -- that decides the fate of this election.


You know, I've been reading through these posts and one of the few things that did bug me is that we're actually asking this sort of question. As Samantha pointed out, gamers come from different social, geographical and cultural backgrounds, making the group to diverse to support one specific candidate or party.

I'm not willing to offend, but the whole question reminds of the line from the morning paper, "Gamer kills a 67-year-old Jogger". Only after half a page of discussion, on the matter of "violent videogames", they've briefly stated that the chap was both drunk and mistreated by his parents since early childhood.

My question is, why would you, as an academic rather than a politician, try to label the gamers as Gamers(tm). Gaming is a leisure activity, just like playing handball, building miniature railroads, making kites or going to the local pubs. I'm fairly certain that most people are aware of the fact that volleyball-players have everybody from Nazis to scientologists to Elvis Presley fans within their rows, why shouldn't it be the same with gaming?

PS: Before you say that gaming is a very intense activity, I'd like to counter that with the fact that so are sports, collecting or any other passionate hobby.


Another point Edward:

While this site certainly is great for discussions and all the rest of it, I fear that it does not represent the majority of the gaming community. I dare to assume that most of them (gamers) will actually find TerraNova very boring. I think you'll get more representative feedback, even though, in my opinion, the question in itself exludes such possibility, on fan-forums dedicated to specific games.


@ Nicholas:

I believe the reason that this question is asked is to see what role gaming has in our lives, to many people (especially here on Terra Nova) games are more than a leisure activity.

The example you brought up was volleyball. If a presidential candidate ruled volleyball unsafe and said they would ban it if they became president to "save the children" how many out of that diverse crowd of volleyball players (not to mention say the referees or net and ball makers) would have their vote influenced.

The point is not that we are all different, the point is would threats of legislation bring gamers together. After reading some recent news online about Mass Effect I believe that when the gamer call goes out and they can be focused on something they have substantial influence, especially over the net.



Hillary's previous stance on video games is what keeps me from voting for her. So do believe that, where people are aware of their voting record/stance with respect to games, it has an effect on their candidacy.
Key being awareness, I know more than most but still very little about their respective record.


OpenCongress has an RSS feed that lets you track all video-game-related bills in the US Congress.



Yet the author was specifically addressing gamers. Addressing game designers and scientists working in the field, regarding the views on politics is like questioning neuro-surgeons in regards of a health reform, rather than addressing all of the medical staff and patients. For vast majority of the people affiliated with gaming, it is a leisure activity. Thus, I could understand why the question was addressed at gamers, yet I see it as being flawed from the start.

Let's quickly run through the questions:


- Do you read sites like GamePolitics and the Entertainment Consumers Association?
+ I think that the answer to that will be a loud and clear "No.". Ask a random person buying a video-game, who attorney Thompson is and they won't have a clue.

- Who do you support in the current contest, and is gaming policy part of your position?
+ Here we start treating gamers like a group. As quite a few people have stated already, gaming is never their #1 priority.

- Is gaming even a relevant issue now?
+ Same as above.

- Do you vote at all?
+ Once again, the question comes back to "Gamer kills a 67-year-old Jogger". "Do gamers vote at all?"

- How have these questions been answered recently in the elections of other countries?
+ Certainly not where I live; probably because nobody cares. Somebody does eventually try to make a career jump by claiming that games are the root of all evil, but the state-leaders generally have other issues to address other than the video-games.


As I've said already, the arguments against gaming might win the voices of the conservative parents, but I seriously doubt that it will have a major effect on the gamers.

Long story short: Gamers are not an ideological/political entity. No point treating it as such.


One of the interesting things about this primary is the spin.

For example, Obama looks to be much harder on the game industry than Hillary, not only by supporting tougher penalties, but by going beyond and mandating parental controls. I guess if you throw in the phrase "First Ammendment" in your plan to increase costs and penalties that makes you the gamer candidate.

And that might be the least of it, by the looks of things. All of those dealings with Rezzo, who is being held without bail, over the last 17 years, make the double-talk about gaming look tame by comparison. Obviously though such things do not matter to people, since John McCain, a man Obama has had much dealings with in the Senate, still has a career for some reason. Or perhaps people are just ignorant.


Really it's the other side of this coin that will be more influential on the majority of voters.

The baby boomers make up a significant portion of active voters, and unfortunately most baby boomers are anti-videogame. Candidates who support censorship and banning will draw many more votes from anti-gamers than they will lose from pro-gamers. The only time you're going to hear a candidate come out to say anything about video games is when they are bashing them in an attempt to pandor to the mainstream voting public.


My feeling is it is very close to irrelevant what the president says about games. The courts have done a beautiful job dumping absurd, restrictive legislation on first amendment grounds so far, and I have every expectation that will continue.


I think its sort of funny how organized various gaming communities got in regards to the Fox News Mass Effect debacle. Players waged war against the offending party's book on amazon, but it seems the opposition is just as organized.

Gaming in politics is growing in more than just player communities, its growing in Washington too.

I don't read political gaming sites (typically) but even outside of them you can find interesting stuff like these articles:




There has been a lot of buzz around the American Presidential Campaign across the gaming online community landscape. Some serious, others poking fun.
Although, the very active and rowdy online gaming community (gamers online as opposed to online game gamers)doesn't represent all gamers there has been a lot of interest on this topic and almost any topic.
This post is very indicative of why many "gamers" don't follow Terra Nova that closely. Often pie in the sky ideas are discussed here and I suspect a lot of the gamers that have come by feel that you are ingoring the stuff going on in the trenches. Many of the posts here tackle big ideas relating to virtual worlds, player rights, avatars etc. but then this post and the following comments show that many, not all here, are unaware of what gamers are up to elsewhere. This is reflected in many of the posts which are focussed on a narrow range of virtual worlds.

This isn't a criticism, because there is so much out there to read and process but I appreciate the open confession by Edward to not be deeply in touch with gamer webspace.


It matters a lot to me, more because I think it reveals something about her nature than because I think she's going to screw up gaming for all of us. I don't like the conservative viewpoint. It is very far from my own. So I do NOT like my Democrat leaders to be spouting it, whether it reflects ignorance or media-whoring or something else. I look forward to a time when maybe we aren't stuck with two parties... but until then, I hope our "liberal" party moves more left, not right.

On the other hand, if Hillary wins the primary, I will without question choose her as the lesser evil. I like McCain, but don't agree with him, and I don't like the other Republicans at all.

I've had to use absentee ballots a lot, but I haven't missed an election since I became eligible.

Go Obama!


I'm truly amazed by some of what I see here.

I won't pretend to be an average gamer; whatever that is..

I am not a game developer, though I am interested in it.

I at least skim GamePolitics on a regular basis, though I'm not particularly politically active beyond voting. I do always vote.

Stance on gaming does matter to me. It is a proxy for freedom of speech or expression. Can there be any political stance more important than ones taken for or against our basic freedoms?


I serously can not see video games being in any danger in the future. Given that time and again video games have been defended in america under the first amendment by the courts any successful attempt to censor them will cause public outcry from gamers shortly followed by those who reconize that such a thing would be the first step in government censorship.

In regards to the idea that the government wants to tax the money generated by games such as MMOs that is a bit in the gray zone. On one hand it would be hard if not impossible as there is no physical item to tax as well as it could be seen as taxing freedom of speech, on the other government is known for getting the money they want some how.

I think what it boils down to is the generational gap between the last generation and the current. Knee jerk reactions in the senate in regards to video games is a result of parents not spending the time needed to really know their children or do the research into what their child is into. As a result they see their 10 year old playing a game like doom or gears of war and are mortifyed, but instead of blaming their bad parenting skills they blame the industry that made it and cry out to their representitives who use it as a vote grabber.

What I find interesting however is the fact that the first solid generation of gamers is quickly approaching voting age. It will be very interesting to see how that generation impacts politic's and later down the road when the same generation reaching the age they can enter office.


What I find interesting however is the fact that the first solid generation of gamers is quickly approaching voting age. It will be very interesting to see how that generation impacts politic's and later down the road when the same generation reaching the age they can enter office.

They said that about the last 2 generations to reach voting age. Gen X (my gen) was the Atari generation. Consoles at home. Arcades. All that. Gen Y had the PS and lots of hyper violent games. The Millenials will be voters soon. They've grown up with networked games.

Sadly, I think this is all moot given the voter participation versus age group demographics. Young people don't vote. Probably it matters much less about when these generations approach voting age and much more about when these generations approach AARP age.


I am a gamer. But I'm also a dad, husband, son, writer, worker, eater, drinker, movie-goer, etc. etc. It's one thing in the package, as many have said.

I'm a flaming liberal, especially when it comes to issues of the First Amendment. I would probably vote for a liberal candidate vs. conservative in almost every instance, regardless of stance on gaming, because I think that liberals will generally protect my personal rights more.

I have gamer buddies who are very conservative. They would probably vote for a conservative candidate vs. a liberal one, regardless of stance on gaming, because they think that conservatives will generally stay out of the way of the businesses that produce games.

Either side can spin any issue either way. And gamers will just keep playing. Unless things change politically a whole lot here in the US, games aren't in specific danger. A mad, moral crusade that "brought down games" would also bring down movies, books, TV and teh intertubes.


You know, I think they're actually just taking the wrong approach. I'm pretty sure that you could influence the gamers fairly easily, if you opened Clinton's Voting-HQ in Stormwind and have her medieval-NPC-self give out quests. The other party could do the same for Origgmar.:P

On a serious note, I remember reading an article about President Yeltcin pushing through a civil referendum to approve his actions in Chechnya. Along with it, some pop-start released a song called "Yes-Yes-No-Yes!", which, through pure coincidence, was the sequence of the answers favoured by Yeltcin. Apparently it ran during each commercial brake on most channels. Dirty? Yes, but just as dirty as playing out on videogames to get some goons in you voting block. Just have to get the right approach I guess.

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