GP Poll: Will Video Game Issue Decide Your Presidential Vote?

April 14, 2008 -
Bonnie Ruberg's recent Heroine Sheik post, which detailed her quandary over just how important the video game censorship issue would be when she casts her presidential vote, got us thinking, too.

What, for instance, will GP do? (and I've got to decide quickly, because the Pennsylvania primary is just eight days away)...

More importantly, what will you do?

Given the situation with Iraq, with the economy, with environmental issues, with Homeland Security, with energy, the credit crisis, the housing market, etc., will your choice come down to a candidate's stance on video game issues?

How do we place video game issues in their proper context?

We'd like to know what you think.

Make your opinion known by voting in today's GamePolitics poll, located in the upper right sidebar, and feel free to offer additional thoughts by commenting to this post.



Media and censorship issues are important, but… c’mon. Is anyone seriously making this their only concern, or even a major concern, in determining who to vote for for PRESIDENT? Is this really more important than the war, or the economy, or foreign policy, or sustainable energy issues, or anything else that actually affects your LIFE?

Yes, I feel that censorship issues are more important in the long run. Wars all end eventually. The economy is always in flux, always has been, and always will be. Energy issues have been studied for years, and improvements are continually being made (I might also point out that the President has precisely nothing to do with it, because it's a scientific problem rather than a political one). Foreign policy isn't a problem, because the perception of Joe Average Frenchman doesn't factor in to the big picture of which country is fucking over which other country.

On the other hand, censorship of media (such as video games), would have a long-lasting negative effect on this country, well beyond any of our lifetimes. This is because it's a Constitutional issue, whereas the others you listed are mainly political. Presidents come and go, but a fundamental change like limiting free speech is far harder to undo, both due to the immediate effects, and the long-term psychological effect on future media producers.

Also, I forgot to add earlier:

I also feel the censorship issue is more important, because it wouldn't just fuck up America. It wasn't that long ago that Hillary was advocating a ban of Manhunt 2, because Britain had banned it. If we start censoring our own media, it won't be long before other similar countries start following our lead and limiting their own free speech.

I'm not voting for any of the 3 candidates. I’m going 3rd party or independent. This to me isn't about games, but liberty and freedom. If I don't stand up for the small things then I will watch my liberties and freedoms die the death of a million cuts. They use a slow bleed method instead of taking them all at once.
You say there are more important issues; I say that games are just the close up of the Big Picture. Basically you are willing to vote for people who want to take freedom from you because you think other issues are more important. Since none of the candidates are protecting my liberty, it really doesn't matter if I don't vote for them, but at least when those freedoms have been taken I can say I had no hand in it.
So when you r games are finally banned by one of the 3 fucking stooges because some other thing you thought was more important compelled you to vote for them, then remember to keep your bitching to yourself. You’re just as complicit as those you voted for who took your liberties from you. I won’t be any better off but my conscience will be clear.

The stance video game issue, I think ties into a lot of other things about a candidate. It reflects their position on free speech, government intervention, the imposition of personal morals on the greater population, etc.

All of those things are very important to me, and I want the candidate I vote for to reflect my feelings about them. The video game factor is also very important to me. I love video games and am currently going to college to pursue a career in video games, so I want to see the industry flourish uninhibited and not be suppressed.

Also, the aforementioned issue tie even further into the really, really, important issues, like the war, the economy, etc. So the candidate's stance on those issues reflects how they feel not only about video games, but on other important issues.

So yes, the video games debate will influence my vote, but not just because of the issue itself, but because of the implications of each candidate's stance on the issue.

No, there are several more pressing issues then this one on my plate. Just like it should be for the Federal Government.

I honestly think that it really depends on how focused a candidate is on the issue. All of them have expressed some concern over video games but the real question lies in weather or not you think they will tackle the real problems facing this country first. It is obvious that Hilary has some issues with games but from what I can tell she seems more focused on fixing the main issues mentioned in this article first.

Obama on the other hand seems to really only have an issue with how much entertainment the public consumes on a whole. The only quote from him I can ever think of is when he requested that people get up and off their video games and go outside. He is not asking for censorship at this point but instead looking for moderation.

Doesn't look like we're learning much with this one; the vast majority of people are saying it's an issue just like any other.

I AM frankly terrified that there actually ARE people who say it's their defining issue, that effectively things like the war, the economy, healthcare, the environment, domestic spying, and torture are all irrelevant and video game censorship is more important than any of them. (Then again, maybe those people are simply using it as a deciding factor between Clinton and Obama, whose policies on all those other things are basically identical. You didn't specify primary versus general election, and in fact made a reference to the Pennsylvania Primary in your post.)

I vote because I want my beliefs and ideas represented. Video games, Net-Neutrality, and issues on technology are a large part of my life. That said, Hillary Clinton and John McCain do not represent or reflect my personal views on games, information technology, the business of such, and the regulation of such.

Obama, while not perfect (indeed, his views and reasonings are not some I agree with), does closely match what I want done.

Though we call ourselves a Democracy, I think of this as a Republic. However, I still have the power as a citizen to help decide the government body. As such, I want a representative who is juts that, a representative of what I think a country should be run. Thus, I vote for whomever best matches. They may not be perfect, my vote allows me the chance for my voice to not only be heard, but echoed.

And this, folks, is why a candidate's stance to video games matter to me. Because I care about it.

I can't ever support someone who would treat a simple game like a menace.

If Freedom of Speech is your first priority in selecting a candidate, consider this: The next president will likely shape the balance of the Supreme Court for years to come.

The current (conservative-leaning) court has already passed what I see as a very dangerous judgement against free speech, where they ruled that a sutdent's rights were not violated when he was forced to take down his "bong hits 4 Jesus" banner by school officials at a non-school function. The ruling said it was OK to censor his speech because of the context of that speech. This worries me.

I am neither Republican nor Democrat; I vote for candidate, not party. I actually like McCain as a politician, he has shown a willingness to compromise with his opponents in order to get work done... but I won't be supporting him in the general election because I'm too afraid of how the Supreme Court will end up under another republican administration.

Certainly he would appoint justices that would be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, he has promised as much to his backers on the far right. Unfotunately, making abortion illegal won't make it go away, it will just make it less regulated and much more dangerous. If a video game law ever makes it SCOTUS Appeal, they may decide that it's ok to censor pretend violence or other forms of speech. We don't get to directly vote for the judicial branch of government, and I think it's important to consider that when voting for the other two branches.

Well, I live in Canada, so take this opinion into context. Whoever wins here will probably affect us though...

I really hope Obama wins. It was my hope from the beginning. I have a natural tendency to lean to the left, and Hillary, well... You know her history from the articles here. In this case, it was probably videogames that convinced me.

Not that I can vote in the United States. Oh well.

I think most of what I've said here has been said actually...

Oops, I screwed up in the second sentence. Meant whoever wins in YOUR country.

Some of the candidates are strong one issues but weak on another, to me Obama is about equal to MCcain on the issues you mentioned (though he was above before recent statements...)

Hillary actually does decently against both but her attempts to destroy our unalienable rights by destroying the bill of rights puts her way below both...
She has tried to destroy the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 8th amendments...


I was just wondering are there any candidates that are not in the "big two" parties that are more supportive of games/free speach? We already know Obama and Clinton aren't friends of gamers (I don't know Mccain's stance on it though i figure with his particular generation it's not looking good.)

I know the chances of getting a third party candidate in power is slim to none, and slim left town a loooong time ago, but I'd like to at least know there's someone out there who beleives in some of the freedoms the country was supposedly founded upon.

I know the chances of getting a third party candidate in power is slim to none, and slim left town a loooong time ago, but I’d like to at least know there’s someone out there who beleives in some of the freedoms the country was supposedly founded upon.

Hey, even if we can't get them into power, voting for them makes for a much better protest vote than not voting.

God, wouldn't it be cool if there weren't politcal parties at all? Then there wouldn't be all those a-holes agreeing with each other just because they're of the same party.

If it came down to Hillary vs. Mccain I would vote for Mccain purely over the games issue.

If it came down to Obama vs. Mccain then I'm not sure who I'd vote for.

The candidates' stance on gaming will definitely have an impact on my vote, since it's such an important part of my life. But voting the issue is for gun nuts, the Religious Right, extremists on either side of the abortion issue, etc. I like to think I'm better than voting on just one cause. (And also well aware that voting the issue is what makes the NRA the most powerful special interest group in the country...)

Nope, game issues won't be part of my vote casting.

As I see it, Video Games are protected under the First Amendment and it will out grow it's scapegoat appeal eventually just like movies, TV, and comics did.

Besides there are far more important issues in the world.

The current (conservative-leaning) court has already passed what I see as a very dangerous judgement against free speech, where they ruled that a sutdent’s rights were not violated when he was forced to take down his “bong hits 4 Jesus” banner by school officials at a non-school function. The ruling said it was OK to censor his speech because of the context of that speech. This worries me.

If there were school officials there, how is it not a school function? Assuming it was actually a school function, he would be in clear violation of 2 school rules. If not, he's at least guilty of encouraging others to break the law (i.e. bong hits), which usually isn't protected speech.


What about Jay and Silent Bob?

Oh, and was that a US Supreme Court decision, or the decision of a lower court? I find myself thinking about Tinker v. Des Moines county school district.

@ TheGreg and anyone else who says that Obama is not friendly towards games

I don't think that is the case. Sure he has labeled people who play games as not politically active, but that is not the same as saying he wants to legislate games.

He has said that he is in support of voluntary industry regulation for all media.

Plus in the context of those statements about slacking, he is talking to people who would rather focus their time on meaningless activities, whatever they may be, than try to do something with their lives. He is speaking to those who don't vote because they are not interested or don't care.

That is not the same as saying he wants to legislate games.

But as to my view,

Video Games played no part in my support of Obama. I do not want to see another Clinton or Bush in the White House for the rest of my life. I also don't like her plans for health care and Iraq.

Of course she wants to pull out, I want to pull out, but not in the manner she wants to. Obama's plan seems more reasonable to me.

Health care is a touchy issue with me. I am not for universal health care. We don't need it. Unfortunately, Obama is for it. That is the most damaging point for me. But I can look passed that as I don't think it would pass.

I would rather the government give tax breaks on FICA for people who are paying for their own health care. Same for Social Security and people who have a retirement account.

The main thing I like about Obama is his desire to bring the US government up to date with technology. He will be the first president to appoint a Chief Technology Officer to the government. This will be someone who can actually clue the government in on things such as the video game issue and Net Neutrality.

I won't ever vote for McCain. I want someone who will get us out of Iraq, not keep us there for another 8 years. He is also old and out of touch with the people of the US. That is not something we need right now. We need someone who will listen to the people.

@jadedcritic: "Bi-partisanship is largely extinct. If we elect a majority democratic congress, we cannot elect a republican president if we want to get anything done."

Which is exactly why I cast my vote such that they will be opposite. I'd rather a government that is frozen than one that gets the wrong things done.

As with the others here, video games are a barometer into how they view the Constitution and Free Speech. If I can't trust you to follow your oath, why should I trust you in office?

With all the important issues out there, I think it's a tad irresponsible to only focus upon video games as the issue in a campaign. Sure, you may have a strong opinion about it, but it shouldn't be the main reason you dislike a candidate.

I agree, we do not need a candidate who is out of touch: see link

I understand why a candidate would be a little bit scared to show support for video games, since they'll instantly be labeled the "family hating" candidates. Little do parents realize that when games are marked as "harmful to minors" without good data and research to support that idea, it can lead to infringements on their rights to decide what their children view. Hell, even if it is true that games are bad for kids, it's still better than having them become stupid or nutty from a lack of idea flow. That's the kind of shit cults resort to.


I think he is more in touch than you realize. I come from a small southern town and what he said is the truth. People who are losing hope tend to scapegoat. What he was saying there is that people in that situation find someone to hate. I have seen and dealt with it personally, and even within myself.

This is just like the article saying he is anti-video game. He was using games as an example of something neglectful parents use to keep their kid entertained while they ignore them. Notice, he said turn off the TV right before that. It is amazing how people are so quick to jump on Obama for every little thing, but Hillary and McCain get tons of passes.

As to answer the original post: my priorities for voting are-
1.Free Speech (Obama. could be better, better than the other two)
2.Transparent Government (Obama is the only one here)
2.Advancement of Science/Technology/Education (I believe this leads to a better economy by creating new jobs to replace any lost overseas and creates products to export. Obama is the only pro net neutrality. )
2.Economy (McCain or Obama here. Neither perfect.)
2.(realistically)Socialized Medicine (Obama's plan is better than Clinton's)
2.Out of Iraq (Obama)
3.Diplomatic Foreign Policy(Obama)
3.Protecting/Advancing Citizen rights (pro-choice, pro gay marriage)(Obama, could be better)

I forgot to mention, Games fall under Free Speech. Like others have said, I use that issue as more of a barometer than an actual issue. I do, however, place more emphasis on it than most, since I am planning on working in the industry.

Video games really are the most important issue in this election. Not directly, but in that they are related to who gets to nominate judges to the supreme court (and to lower courts). Conservatives are 1 vote away from a 5 vote majority that could last decades. And Republicans tend to nominate conservative judges that interpret the 1st Amendment more narrowly, and that tend to want to give more power to states to regulate as well. Either Obama or Clinton would nominate judges that interpret the Bill of Rights "liberally", and therefore more like you would expect, for example, the ACLU to come down on 1st Amendment issues.

I really doubt that the candidates will make a huge difference on the other issues. They all three know we have to be careful withdrawling from Iraq (even McCain knows we have to get out). All are fairly moderate on economics and just about all the other issues. Plus you have Congress to balance whatever the president tries to do (parties rarely control both branches). The real impact of any President in the long term is the kind of judges they appoint to the bench. Obviously there are exceptions like Bush invading Iraq, but that was after one of the most traumatic events this country ever went through: September 11th. And even so, Bushes judges (Roberts and Alito) will be on the supreme court decades after we're long gone from Iraq.

In short, the supreme court is in the balance. We need liberal judges (appointed by EITHER Obama or Clinton) to continue at least a balance and protect video games and other media from what I think would be a more conservative, restrictive interpetation of the 1st Amendment if McCain wins.

It's funny to read people complaining about the U.S.A.'s presidential candidates being "too" conservative or liberal, when (according to the rest of the world having any semblance of a party system, and history and study of international and other-nation politics suggests they're right that we're merely educated not to believe this), we only have centrist candidates with so little difference between them that we might as well only have one party because there isn't a real left-wing or right-wing candidate in the dual-party bunch.

I agree, though, that videogames are (or at least, should be) a HUGE issue in this election. Not because of videogames per se. But because, do we really want somebody whose judgment is so poor they would wasting federal tax dollars on unconstitutional laws that dictate to parents (outside of immediate safety/health issues) what their children can and cannot watch/read/play/do? Or, more specifically, do we want somebody running our nation who believes such Big Government control is really better for the nation; or that parents are really so ineffective and children so malleable as to demand the government step in, but only for videogames because they are scary; or who is so unfamiliar with the constitution and with a passtime of 75% of the nation that they believe videogames' violence actually doesn't have any redeeming values and is the single most important determining factor for children who will be criminals or aduls who already are?

None of the scenarios for "reasons a candidate would support federal [or even state] legislation against videogames" are acceptable; all hint at a lack of knowledge about the state of the nation and the media so common within it; and most suggest a liberty in meddling with affairs better left to parents to deal with, as well as a frightening insouciance about spending our tax money in pursuit of "feel-good" legislation at the cost of things like health care, the economy, Katrina aid, and little trivialities like supporting the huge population of (soon-to-be 75% of) veterans suffering from PTSD and the far-too-many suffering from physical ailments.

That would be far too close to Big Brother's thought control, and definitely too constitution-ignorant and/or elitist to be the position held by a good president following a couple of terms that have attempted to bring the executive branch as near to ignorance of and derision for the very checks and balances that make this government worthwhile as we ever need to get (well, far nearer, but eh, too late now). Anyone who could, at some point within the past several years, look at the problems within the realm of education, housing, veterans care, and so on ad nauseum, and decide that legislating videogames was more important than all of these things, is either too crafty or too stupid (or both at the same time, even worse) for me to want in charge.


As a working professional in the games industry, and as a US citizen working abroad, I'd say that Video game issues are a HUGE factor in who I will vote for. Who gets elected will also be a deciding factor of whether I return to the states at some point or not. If that makes me a "total fucking idiot" as you say, well then that's a surprise to me.

BTW, If you play games, there is a 100% chance I made one of the games you've played or will play in your lifetime. I believe that makes you a total fucking idiot by proxy.

Coravin is partly right: compared to the western world's average of political views, our candidates actually lean more towards the right.

Look at Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, those are the only guys that lie out of the "main sequence".

This issue has already affected me. During the Illinois orimary, I took where every candidate stood on the key issues for me, but I eventually bit the bullet and voted Romney. In the fall election, if it is down to Obama and McCain, I'm taking Obama. If it is McCain and Clinton, I am simply not voting

Dr. Ron Paul is in the race guys...Go read up on what his is.

"...we only have centrist candidates with so little difference between them that we might as well only have one party because there isn’t a real left-wing or right-wing candidate in the dual-party bunch."

I agree. The last Right-winger we had in office (on the American political scale at least) was Ronald Reagan, and the last Left-winger was LBJ. Just about everyone else we've had in recent memory has been so spinelessly moderate that it's quite disgusting. Every 4 years, they all do the same political dance. First they sway the the left or right depending on what party they belong to. Then they swing as far to the middle as they can during the general election.

I'm against government censorship of anything, no matter how offensive it might seem to a random person. The government's job is not to shield the people from each and every thing that might offend them, or even do them harm. People shouldn't look to government like a nanny. The government isn't your caretaker, it's at best a necessary evil. On the other hand, I'm also against having children exposed to things they aren't able to handle. I'll try to make my points clear in this regard.

First, let's address the violence issue. I believe that children are largely not damaged by depictions of violence. War games and "cowboys and indians" type of play has been common throughout history. Cartoon characters drop anvils, pianos, etc. on their enemies' heads with no large-scale consequences for millions of people who have grown up to lead perfectly normal lives. Contact sport are organized violence, yet we wouldn't suggest banning football if one little miscreant couldn't determine that it wasn't appropriate to tackle random people in public. More realistic, graphic violence needs more attention, but not from the government. I was perfectly fine watching Robocop and Highlander in Middle School, but I know that other kids might not be. Parents need to accept the responsibility of training their own children. It's shameful that so many parents today are abrogating that duty and are trying to foist it on government or "society". If "it takes a village" to raise your child, you're too damn lazy.

Then there's sexually explicit material. We have age of consent laws and pornography laws already on the books. If someone's legally not supposed to have sex, and also not supposed to possess certain classes of sexually explicit material, doesn't that logically cover what's necessary?

What I don't want is to have violence or other types of speech to carry the same legal status as pornography, where it's illegal to present it to a minor. While parents have the right to know the content of something, it's their prerogative to allow their child to access such material if they so choose.

The bottom line is that the government already intrudes into our life too much for our supposed "safety". The whole lot of them should stay out of our lives as much as humanly possible. I want them out of our living rooms, bedrooms, gamerooms, gun safes, and whatever else they have a mind to screw with. Oh yeah, and while they're at it, I'd wish they'd lay off of my wallet alot more too.

@Silphion Couldn't have said it better myself.

And like Xen, I'm a working professional in the game industry, so yes it is quite important.
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james_fudgeI'll be watching the Facebook page09/01/2015 - 10:14am
james_fudgethe site maybe up right now, but we're not updating until we're at the new location.09/01/2015 - 10:13am
james_fudge - 10:12am
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MattsworknameTotal bisquit talkes about why teh Deus X pre order systems is garbage.09/01/2015 - 3:18am
MechaTama31Infophile: Kind of like how you're criticizing these theoretical reactions before you've even read any? ;)09/01/2015 - 12:44am
PHX CorpI'll probaly Start the stream around 8PM Eastern08/31/2015 - 10:09pm
PHX CorpOk, see you guys Tomorrow on the GP Facebook Page, I'll be steaming either the first 2 megaman games(Through Megaman Legacy Collection) or Rare Replay as the first game on My page tomorrow While we wait for GP to Come back up later this week08/31/2015 - 10:01pm
james_fudgeAlso check out our Facebook page and chat there! - 9:53pm
james_fudgeSee you all on the other side! Find me on Twitter :)08/31/2015 - 9:51pm
james_fudgeAllright, i'll mention this on the GP facebook page08/31/2015 - 9:49pm
PHX Corpand now it's ready to go for everyone08/31/2015 - 9:35pm
PHX Corpok, done I have to put on one more finishing touch and it is ready to go08/31/2015 - 9:19pm
Andrew EisenFeel free to leave us suggestions on Facebook or Twitter too. We're going to be busy but we'll try our best to keep an eye on 'em.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenIt's an interesting idea though. If we do anything, we probably won't know until after the site goes offline so keep an eye on GP social media for announcements.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenYeah, we could use my Twitch chat box too. There's always IRC but we don't currently have a GamePolitics channel.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Goth_SkunkThough I think the limit is 9 at a time in the hangout, so anyone who can't get in would be stuck out in the 'on air' portion.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Andrew EisenFor the show, I'd like the chat open to anyone who wants to watch.08/31/2015 - 8:55pm
PHX CorpI could Set Up a Temporary chatroom on My twitch.TV page while GP is busy updating the site(since I'll be Fighting Megaman Legacy Collection on Xbox one)08/31/2015 - 8:54pm
Goth_SkunkI don't see a problem with inviting viewers. It's not like I'm advocating this to be an open forum, just something specific to GP members.08/31/2015 - 8:53pm

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