Where do 2012's presidential candidates stand on video games?

Come next week, Barack Obama will be defending his seat as president of the United States against one Mitt Romney at the polls,but while they spent three debates talking about a range of domestic issues and foreign policy, they never did once bring up gaming. We're here to fix that. We've assembled everything Governor Romney and President Obama (and Ron Paul) have said about gaming, so that you can head to the polls as informed as possible.

Mitt Romney (Republican)

On the Republican ticket for president is former Governor of Massachusetts, Willard Mitt Romney. Romney has brought up video games on occasion during his political career, once when answering a political questionnaire, saying “I want to restore values so children are protected from a societal cesspool of filth, pornography, violence, sex, and perversion."

That, alone, isn't all that bad, but the other half of the quote is more worrisome to gamers: "I’ve proposed that we enforce our obscenity laws again and that we get serious against those retailers that sell adult video games that are filled with violence and that we go after those retailers.”

First, his reference to "adult games" shows that he might not fully understand the ESRB rating system. Second, the obscenity law Romney references is infrequently used due to its conflicts with freedom of speech (and because the US actually has no legal definition for what is and what isn’t obscene).

Romney's 2008 ad mentions that he'd like to see less violence in video games

Romney mentioned games again soon after in a 2008 advertisement entitled “Ocean,” where he said that he is “deeply troubled about the culture that surrounds our kids today.” After discussing the Columbine school shooting and quoting political author Peggy Noonan, he added “I’d like to see less violence and sex on TV and in video games and in movies.” Since then he hasn’t said much on the issue, though we’ve no reason to believe he’s suddenly become a convert.

Barack Obama (Democrat)

Barack Hussein Obama II, the current United States president and democratic candidate for the 2012 election, has talked about video games and the industry on several occasions since his election in 2008. Recently, he lumped them together with iPods and other electronics as “a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation." He explained that this "is not only putting new pressures on you. It is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."

He also brought up gaming when talking about health concerns, but it’s not as damning: “The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. It means quitting smoking, going in for that mammogram or colon cancer screening. It means going for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside.”

Obama also has talked about specific games, mentioning that he bought his daughters Just Dance 3 for the Wii for the holidays (which proves that he doesn’t read GamesRadar or else he would have known that Dance Central was the way to go) and even mentioning Grand Theft Auto at one point. "I was just catching the news this morning about Grand Theft Auto, this video game, which is gonna break all records and make goo-gobs of money for whoever designed it. Now, this isn't intended for kids, although I promise you there are kids who are playing it." This shows that he at least has some grasp of the rating system, or at least the idea that games can be for adults.

He went on to recite the same thing people said about televisions when they first became popular, making him sound like an old man yelling at the kids on his lawn: "But these video games are raising our kids. Across the board, middle-class, upper-class, working-class kids, they're spending a huge amount of their time not on their studies, but on entertainment. And so part of our job is going to have to be to inspire the entire country to say, 'How are we giving our kids a thirst for knowledge?' And turning off the TV set, and getting them to be engaged and interested, like their future really does matter on how well they do in school." He also said that he wants kids to make games and we doubt anyone will disagree with that.

...and don't forget about Ron Paul!

Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul's supporters didn't give up after the Republican party passed him over, and there's an unofficial movement asking voters to write in the candidate (official Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson be damned). Has been called the “gamer’s candidate" by someone probably because of his support on social networks and in games like World of Warcraft, where players actually had rallies to support the politician. The reason for this is because of his party. While he's running as a Republican, Ron Paul falls more in line with Libertarian beliefs than those of the GOP, meaning he really doesn't want to be all up in your business.

Paul has talked to G4 a few times, discussing his stance on technology, the internet, and video games. Paul that he is a firm believer in the first amendment, and that he believes that passing laws that censor games would go against . His stance is one of the most sensible, and fits in line with recent court rulings that have lumped games in with other forms of art when it comes to first amendment protection.

Well, that's all of the big information we found while digging through countless interviews, quotes, campaign ads, and transcriptions. Odds are there's some stuff we missed--the internet is a really big place, after all--so if you find something just post it below for everyone to see and help spread that sweet, sweet information around. Or get angry and assume that we intentionally left it out for political reasons or because we have an agenda and call us names, if you'd rather do that. That's fine, too.

Disclaimer: The next page lists the gaming politics of other notable Republican candidates from the 2012 primaries...


  • TURbo - January 25, 2012 11:22 a.m.

    Ron Paul wouldn't have any bans or censorship of videogames on the federal level.
  • comaqi - January 25, 2012 11:25 a.m.

    Mitt flips faster than a flapjack so with enough pressure from the people he wouldn't be a problem. Newt is all sci-ency and he's hopefully changed his draconian views on video games. Ron Paul is still my man but I don't know if he has much of a chance.
  • PolarBearsInHeat - January 25, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    Them damn republicans, always sticking their noses in what the don't understand. You americans (every other country should too, but especially america, seeing a they make decisions without asking the rest of the world first) should really get rid of everyone over the age of 55 who serves government, cause they're screwing the entire planet over.
  • Vader999 - January 25, 2012 11:48 a.m.

    Dems intervene in games negatively too. Hilary Clinton during the Hot Coffee scandal was a prime example. And it's actually the Libertarian republicans like Ron Paul and Rick Perry who are pro-gaming.
  • kyle94 - January 25, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    To be fair, while Libertarians are fairly right-wing when it comes to fiscal matters, they are more left-leaning than Republicans on social issues. So, the moral of the story is that video games are more often than not a personal issue, and not related to pre-existing party lines. Though, PolarBearsInHeat idea of getting rid people over 55 does remind me of Thomas Jefferson's quote: "Every generation needs a new revolution."
  • soggysage - January 25, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    Get your filthy politics out of my video games! But other than that this was a cool read, and thats coming from someone who doesn't even give a monkey's uncle about American politcs.
  • therawski - January 25, 2012 11:28 a.m.

    So the republican candidates (for the most part) pretty much think killing is wrong in a video game but fine in real life as long as they have oil. Remember that Schwarzenegger thing not too long ago.
  • snothammer - January 25, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    This was an enjoyable read. It's nice to see that video games aren't any of the candidates' big concerns at the moment. At least not until Grand Theft Auto V is released and causes a big stir, as the series is wont to do. On a total sidenote, related to games and not politics so much, it must be kind of disheartening to be the Saints Row devs. I mean, GTA thrives on creating controversy. It helps them sell more games, really. But then Saints Row The Third comes along and is so obviously trying to be controversial with dildos in its trailers and what not, but they don't get a lick of attention outside of the video game media. They're probably dreaming of a misinformed Fox News broadcast, but I don't remember any such thing occurring (not that frequently watch Fox News, I like to fill my mind with more intelligent banter). But I guarantee the smallest 'controversial' bit of GTA 5 will get plenty of media coverage. Guess that's what happens when you're a cultural phenomenon. Regardless, I'm glad video games are recently being skipped in favor of discussing more important issues, so to speak.
  • phoenix_wings - January 25, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    GTA is pretty much synonymous with video game violence. Almost like Google is for internet search. It'd be pissed if I were the Saints Row devs, but when shit hits the fan about their game being violent, they could just defer "uh, are you sure you're not referring to Grand Theft Auto? Our game is about gangstas in space."
  • Gutey66 - January 25, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    Interesting and informative article Coop. Although politicians may lose votes from gamers by voicing their stance on games, i cant help but feel that they gain the votes of hundreds of other ignorant citizens who still believe that the 'nintendos' are just violence-promoting children's toys.
  • FlyinMachine - January 25, 2012 11:43 a.m.

    As you can assume video games and politics don't mix too well. Obviously they're gonna be like "Ban all the gamezzzz thatre curruptin' the yuthhh!" because Youth are pieces of fecal matter and aren't allowed to vote. Predictable but meh. I don't really care what their stance on gaming is as long as it isn't negatively effecting it.
  • cj12297 - January 25, 2012 11:45 a.m.

    That Rick Santorum ad is hilarious. " Violence is bad!" (wrestling in background, punches a guy in the face)
  • Darkhawk - January 25, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    toEs the line. Jeeze, people. I would expect better from a fine journalistic institution such as GR.
  • marioman50 - January 25, 2012 12:12 p.m.

    Whoa, Rick Santorum would get my vote... if I wanted a joke president.
  • EnigmaSpirit - January 25, 2012 12:34 p.m.

    Colbert should have been on the list. He lost the fight for president of the united states of south carolina, but it still would have been fun. My vote goes to president Obama.
  • Sonattine - January 25, 2012 12:45 p.m.

    This year is a presidential election year in France too, but no candidate ever mentions video games as a relevant topic. When they do mention video games it's to say how well our companies do (France is good at special effects and has a few big money makers and job providers in the industry). Microsoft alone is worth praise for what it does for America's economy and world influence surely. Why bash the product when you have so much to gain ? Not for the first time, I find the USA as weird as is it fascinating.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - January 25, 2012 1:08 p.m.

    I would say Ron Paul, but since he probably won't make it to the very end, I'll stick with Obama.
  • DryvBy - January 25, 2012 2:51 p.m.

    A wise man once said you could waste time going out and voting for the "meh" candidate, or you could stay at home in masturbate. Only of of those options will leave you with something to show off. Eff Obama and eff anyone outside of Ron Paul. I don't need another progressive garbage politician who can't balance a check book because he spends too much. I need a dude that gets it.
  • Pwnz0r3d - January 25, 2012 1:25 p.m.

    There is no valid argument against videogames. "Kids are exposed to gore and sexuality!" No they aren't. The parents ALLOW them to be exposed to it. A parent buying a 4 year old Gears of War or Grand Theft Auto is the same as letting the same parent letting the same kid watch porn in my eyes. Anywho, none of them have my vote. While I'm not too pleased with Obama's performance (not because he didn't get shit done, or make things worse, but because he didn't bust his balls TRYING to get shit done), he's better than any of the Republican candidates. It'll be a LONG time before I would EVER vote Republican. Mainly because of the decisions made by the Carter (yeah I know he was Dem, but Bush Sr was his CIA head, read about he was doing under the table), Reagan, and Bush Sr/Jr administrations.
  • FOZ - January 25, 2012 1:51 p.m.

    Yeah, damn those Nintendos. Super Mario is sick and perverse. The one with the guns and cars, right? That's Super Mario? If you don't know a damn thing, don't talk. Goddamn.

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