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...

Hollander Cooper

Hollander Cooper was the Lead Features Editor of GamesRadar+ between 2011 and 2014. After that lengthy stint managing GR's editorial calendar he moved behind the curtain and into the video game industry itself, working as social media manager for EA and as a communications lead at Riot Games. Hollander is currently stationed at Apple as an organic social lead for the App Store and Apple Arcade.