Negative Stigma from Playing WoW

There’s some buzz in the gamer community about politics in Maine.  It seems that a Colleen Lachowitz, a Democratic candidate for state office, plays WoW in her free time.  The Republican Party there is using that to portray her in a negative way leading up to the election.

The Maine Republican Party created a web site that details a lot of posts that Ms. Lachowitz has made on some game-related forums.  Some of it is actually relevant to the political discussion.  She makes comments about politicians and political parties, probably feeling that the anonymity of a forum allowed her to state her true feelings without sugar coating them.  To call her out on that is appropriate.  We should all know by now that usernames and other internet handles do not give you carte blanche to say whatever you want.  Your words never go away.

However, if you look at all of the things posted on there, it also highlights her gaming as if it were a negative in its own right.  They highlight her statements like “I went heavier into the assassination tree” and “I did dungeons” and “I spent my day leveling an undead warlock” as if these were somehow inherently bad.

It goes without saying that the authors of this attack are woefully uninformed about a huge part of culture in the world today.  This attack on Ms. Lachowitz is, of course, without merit.

That doesn’t mean that it won’t work.

Does gaming have a negative stigma?  Clearly, it does.

I know a lot of gamers who have two distinct sets of friends.  They have their “gaming friends” with whom they talk about their boss kills, their kill/death ratio, headshots, and late night Mountain-Dew-fueled gaming sessions.  Then they have their “other friends” with whom they would never bring up those topics because its viewed as strange or weird or immature.

Doesn’t this indicate that gaming is still not an acceptable social activity?

I’m a high school teacher, and I make an effort to never discuss gaming with my students.  I don’t want them to know that I play WoW.  Its not that I am embarrassed of my gaming.  I do think that people have a specific stereotype of what a “gamer” is, and I don’t want that label.  I try to be professional in front of my students, and the gamer image does not fit with that persona.  Also, I would rather not have their parents know.  Call me a coward, but its easier to keep it a secret than it is to explain the truth to those who have certain notions about gaming.

There was one time that I did let on to a few students that I played WoW.  Within a few days, someone had tracked down my character on the armory.  Then it was printed and copied and passed around with the label “This is the REAL Mr. [my name]” written across the bottom.  This was distributed among my students.  Clearly the intent was to portray me as something other than who I appear to be at school.  Its not that different than what is happening to Ms. Lachowitz.  The difference is the scope – for me it was only within a few hundred students, while for her it is regional and, to some extent, national.

I know that I am preaching to the choir here.  Those who read this are gamers and will, of course, defend gaming.  Do you feel self-conscious about how the outside world views you?  Do you hide your hobbies from non-gamers?


7 Responses to “Negative Stigma from Playing WoW”

  1. 1 Talth
    October 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    My huge issue with this politician gaming ‘scandal’ has always been that if the republicans don’t play WoW themselves how did they find her character? How did they know about the armory? I did see some pictures that had her full character avatar. If you do not/have not played wow you probably don’t know how to easily obtain this info.

    Personally if someone is supposedly my friend I will not hide the fact that I play wow. Obviously I talk about it more with other friends who play. If my friends judge me over a hobby they aren’t really my friends. At work I just say that I play video games evenings and weekends. I won’t hide that it’s wow if someone asks what games. Lately it’s the only game I play but that’s due to financial reasons and lack of interest for other games. I should play through skyward sword again soon….

  2. 2 Pvpscrub
    October 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Everyone knows I play lol, work even asked me what holidays I’ll be taking for the expansion (which I declined) . They indeed think gaming for kids and weird that an adult would play, but accept it.

  3. October 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Everybody plays something, but i don’t know why, they just think the computer games are worse than other types of games (like cards or console). No one cares if you are a Blackjack addicted, but if you’re a WoW addicted you’re doomed!!!
    I live in Brazil and here is no different. I avoid as much as possible to talk about gamming with people from my work. Everytime they know i play wow jokes starting sprouting out, like “late for work? too much wow last night, huh?!” and things alike.

    Everytime someone says i play too much wow, i reply with things like “you’re using facebook all during the work hours AND lunch, AND at your home, don’t you think you facebook more than i play wow?”.

    Addiction is bad for any case, should it be to games, drugs, food, sex, work. Addiction is bad, but it’s also part of most people life.

  4. 4 Spongi
    October 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    About her political comments on forums, my understanding is that Lachowitz made them on the forums of her guild, Wreck List. Wreck List is a guild of frequenters to the DailyKos, a very political blog. She is also running for public office, meaning she surely has no interest in hiding her political views. All this is to say that I doubt her comments were out of place, nor were they intended to be anonymous.

    But to your point, I agree. There is a stigma to gamers. I don’t divulge my gaming habits for similar reasons to yours.

  5. 5 Zandt
    October 25, 2012 at 10:07 am

    The whole thing is just blown out of proportion. The general populace still looks down on gaming as stupid and wasteful. They can’t get rid of the stereotypical gamer image in their head: living in parents’ basement, not showering, eating nothing but pizza, drinking nothing but mountain dew, no social skills, etc. A large majority of gamers are not like that, as they fail to realize. As for whether or not I reveal my WoW playing to my friends and co-workers? They all know. I don’t care that they know. But I don’t talk about it with them. None of my friends play WoW, they all think it’s stupid and a waste of time. I’m not going to try to convince any of them to play, I know they won’t anyway, none of them are big gamers. But I’d also rather not get into a debate with them why I shouldn’t be playing WoW, so therefore I leave it out of our conversations entirely. My co-workers know I play, my friends know I play, my family knows I play…it just doesn’t get talked about. I think I let people know I play just in the off chance that I meet someone new and they go “hey, what server are you on? Want my battletag?” because I haven’t had any friends play WoW since Vanilla (and those are people I eventually lost contact with) so I have no one I know in real life to play WoW with, and no one outside of the game to discuss the game with. I’ve dealt with it since Vanilla, and I’ve kinda gotten used to it, but it would be really nice to meet someone, make a new friend that plays WoW who I can talk to about it and not feel like such a loner all the time.

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