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

Rick Santorum

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.

Newt Gingrich

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. 

Rick Perry

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. 


  • 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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