Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week (or somewhere outside of the United States) you have heard some of the coverage of the general elections. I am decidedly happy that the incumbent was reelected to the White House despite the fact that I live in a decidedly red state (TX). But, my political alliances aren’t up for debate in this article. In fact, who I voted for is irrelevant.
Today’s bit of nerdery comes from the Maine State Senate race, specifically the race for the 25th district seat. Colleen Lachowicz ran against the Republican incumbent Sen. Tom Martin and won.
Mostly thanks to the Republican Party’s help. In early Oct., the state GOP sent out a press release that outed Lachowicz for a ‘bizarre a double life’ where she is an avid player of the online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, she’s “Santiaga,” an “orc assassination rogue” with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.
There is nothing in that last sentence that would not automatically secure my vote. The GOP went on to create the website Colleen’s World to further detail the exploits of Lachowicz online. A few mailers were even sent out to further attach the candidate.
This mailer was sent out as an attack on Lachowicz
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee declared Lachowicz one of their “2012 Essential Races: Grassroots Nominees”, stating that she had received the second-largest number of nominations from grassroots activists. Referencing the WoW attack, the DLCC claimed that the controversy had made hers “perhaps the most nationally-watched legislative race in the country right now”
The entire about page on the Colleen’s World seems relatively tame:
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.
Looking at this language purely on a public relations level is like watching an ACME product misfire on Wile E. Coyote.
Here’s a breakdown on some of the language:
“… level 85–the highest level one can attain”: The intent here was to point out the fact that she is some part of a cult that spends way too much time within the fictional game world and it is implied that she is completely disconnected with reality. To any WoW player, or really any gamer, that shows dedication. Actually, Lachowicz’s husband also has an account and they play together. I firmly believe a family that games together; stays together.
“She and the members of her [guild] post comments to each other on liberal online forums including the Daily Kos, where they discuss politics, military policies, and WoW battle tactics.”: So let’s get this straight. We are associating her guild with liberal forums and military policy and battle tactics. I guess this means that in mind of Santiaga, aka Lachowicz, there is no difference between the real world and the fantasy gaming world.
So why point these things out at all and waste the time to create a website to point out what she does in her free time? The simplest answer is to point her out as a nerd. Nerds are bad. Nerds cannot be capable human beings.
Obviously (by the name of this blog alone) this is not a political platform that I can support. But maybe I am misinterpreting the message the attach website is trying to convey.
Maybe they want to say that she is part of this cult phenomenon and she believes in fictional worlds where she kills lots of victims, making her unfit to make decisions about the world that we live in. It seems to echo the fears about Dungeons & Dragons in the 80s
or Magic: the Gathering in the 90s.
They seem to want to shame her for spending so much time within a game. There is a fundamental flaw with this. Lachowicz earned a Master of Social Work from Boston College. She has spent 25 years as a social worker. She has worked for Kennebec Behavioral Health since 1997 and has been their Program Director of School-Based Services since 2005. She has a husband and 2 children. Both she and her husband are licensed foster parents. It doesn’t sound much like the shut-in stereotype they expected to make her out to be.
Who wouldn’t vote for a face like this?
The attack ads, if you can call them that, caused a small local election to gain national attention. Blizzard reported that World of Warcraft subscriptions were at 10 million as of Oct. Lachowicz story was picked up by many gaming websites. Stephen Colbert tweeted, “Colleen Lachowicz has plenty of other hobbies besides video games. She’s also a Level 57 Dark Mage Nightmare Knitter.”
For a little clarification, Lachowicz published an op-ed piece in the Kennebec Journal that stated that WoW and knitting were her hobbies.
“But during the last year, I’ve spent little time doing either. These are my hobbies, and they have absolutely nothing to do with where I stand on the issues or why I’m running for office.”
Her article concludes with, “Now, let’s get back to the issues that Maine people care about.”
That is what any sane candidate would say. But I think her online alter ego gives her what is the nerd equivalent of street cred. The attack ads feel like what would happen if a gamer group got together to form a PAC. Maybe someone in the GOP was angry because she jacked their loot in a raid.
The end results seem to speak for themselves. Lachowicz was the winner in the general election, unseating Martin with 8,666 votes to his 7,753.
Keywords: World of Warcraft, Senate, Election, GOP, Democrat, Maine, Lachowicz