I am an adult who plays — and even worse, really enjoys — video games.
That statement likely conjured up an image in the mind’s eyes for many of you, of a big-boned (read: overweight), slovenly guy in his 40s who lives in his parents’ basement, has no social skills whatsoever, wears only sweatpants and lives off of Doritos and Red Bull.
I’m more of a cheddar popcorn and Heineken man, personally.
Sometimes, though, I think it would be better if I lied and said I abused penguins than admit to my gaming habits.
Despite the video game industry outranking and outperforming even the Hollywood movie industry — and using Hollywood actors for voice work, and big-time directors like Lucas and Spielberg producing games — gamers are still a maligned bunch.
If you don’t believe me, ask Colleen Lanchowicz, a Democratic candidate in a state senate race in Maine. Apparently, Maine Republicans have questions about her “fitness for office” and “maturity” simply because it has been revealed she plays the online game World of Warcraft.
How did her private gaming hobby become public knowledge, you ask?
Well, it was again the Republicans who created a website “Colleen’s World,” where they compile information about her orc rogue character named Santiaga for the sole purpose of undermining her credibility.
On the site, Maine Republicans say her “bizarre double life” and statements — that she likes how her thief character can stab and kill things without suffering a jail sentence, for example — raise questions about her abilities as a lawmaker.
Let’s see… I have played a dark elf assassin, barbarian necromancer, half-elf paladin, dwarven cleric and undead wizard — among other things — in various online games… should my employers be worried I will backstab or cast an evil spell on them over vacation hours? I even played a female human enchanter in one game… should my wife be keeping an eye on her underwear drawer?
Other alter egos I’ve slipped into during my gaming sessions include a feisty Italian plumber, American World War II soldier, and yes, I’ve even been Batman.
But just because I’ve played the Dark Knight in a video game does not mean I’m a wealthy playboy billionaire, or that I can leap rooftop to rooftop in a never-ending battle against Gotham’s criminals.
I know… I’m disappointed, too.
By that same logic, just because Ms. Lachowicz plays an orc rogue in a fantasy online game doesn’t mean she has ninja-like powers of stealth, magical daggers or even the inclination to perform evil deeds.
Lanchowicz, like millions (yes, millions) of other professional adults — including lawyers, doctors, managers, educators and CEOs — simply likes playing video games… suspending her disbelief and becoming another person or entity for a brief while. It is no worse or better than getting wrapped up in a movie or a good book.
Nobody should be made to feel bad because of an innocent — and totally fun — pastime.
But still, most adult gamers tend to avoid revealing their pixilated hobby to just anyone, fearing embarrassment or ridicule.
Hopefully, Lanchowicz or some other self-affirmed and unrepentant gamer will get elected to a higher office one day — or similar position of power — and help us shed the slovenly, anti-social, Doritos-eating stereotype.
I hope that time comes soon, though. I’d hate to be banned from the Vancouver Aquarium’s new penguin exhibit.