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Richard John "Rick" Santorum hasn’t said much about games recently, but in 2006 he used them as a proving point for his bipartisanship and ability to work with others using an... interesting analogy. During his run for Congress in Pennsylvania, he ran a political ad that showed him walking around a wrestling ring as wrestlers beat each other senseless. This was a metaphor for Washington. Near the end of the video, Santorum explained that he was “working with Hillary Clinton to limit inappropriate material in video games.” And then he punched a guy in the face, without a glint of irony.
That never really went anywhere; obviously, as we’re all still enjoying limitless inappropriate material in our video games, but it’s still worth noting that he thought it important enough to bring up in a political ad. He also lost that election, so there's a chance that he might have reevaluated his priorities since the ad ran.
Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich might be the most conflicted political candidate when it comes to videogames. He has, on several occasions, come out strongly against them, saying, “I think the fact is, if you look at the amount of violence we have in games that young people play at 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 years of age, if you look at the dehumanization, if you look at the fact that we refuse to say that we are, in fact, endowed by our creator, that our rights come from God, that if you kill somebody, you’re committing an act of evil.”
To us, that sort of sounds like he’s saying that committing an evil act in a videogame is the same as committing an evil act in the real world, at least on some level, which is obviously troubling.
He also went on a long rant about games in 1999 after Columbine, pointing a finger at the entertainment industry by saying, “for a generation Hollywood and computerized games have undermined the core values of civility. It is time they were stopped by a society which values free speech enough to protect it. One of the great founders of CBS News, Edward R. Murrow, producer, had a wonderful saying, just because you have the right to say it, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to say,” which is a somewhat strong attack on freedom of speech in general.
He went on to say “…and let us say to the Nintendos and the other games, if you are going to be sick, we are going to find a way to protect this country from you. And whether that means exposing movies to liability litigation, whether that means exposing computerized games to litigation, whether it means challenging the Democrats to cut off the fund raising in a verse. Don’t tell us you care about children and have the people who are corrupting their lives raise your money while you tell us you care about traditional values. Don’t tell us the freedom of speech means the freedom to be so depraved, so violent, so disgusted that our children grow up in a country where they think that killing somebody else is a reasonable behavior. And it’s true on television. It's true in the movies. It’s true in these games. I will challenge the lawyers of America: don’t tell how you could protect those who are bad, tell how well you can help us find some solution to bring Hollywood to its senses and to bring the computer people to their senses. And I’m not for censorship, but I am for the society setting standards and shaming those who refuse to have a standard that makes sense.”
To be fair, a lot of people blamed Columbine on videogames, and the fact that he didn't say that much about them in the past ten years might mean he let that grudge slip away.
But for all of the negative things Newt has said about games, he might be the most informed politician. Gingrich is an avid fan of science fiction and technology in general, and actually gave a speech in Second Life several years ago, praising the game and its community. Odds are he didn’t know about the darker side of Second Life (which includes flying dildos and the like), but it’s still interesting. And confusing.
James Richard "Rick" Perry already dropped out of the primary race, but he is still a candidate for vice presidency, so we left him on this list. We also left him on for another reason: he’s actually the most pro-gaming candidate around. As governor of Texas, Rick Perry tried to make the state into the Hollywood of gaming by constantly incentivizing developers to hire in-state with tax breaks and bonuses. There were some restrictions, including a clause that dissuaded developers from bashing Texas in their games (what?), but he was definitely pro-gaming industry, even keynoting 2008’s E3.
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