When Barack Obama is sworn in on January 20, he’ll make history as the first president in our nation’s proud history to have grown up with video games. And while that’s not as big of a deal as his other, precedent-setting characteristics, it’s worth acknowledging if you’ve at any point grown tired of legislators, governors and state attorneys general ham-handedly attempting to protect America’s children from the scourge of violent games.
Nobody should decide on a presidential candidate based on who’s played what video games, but Obama’s campaign for president was notable for a handful of ads and statements about gaming that bore a markedly different tone from, “These games are corrupting our children!”
In campaign appearances, Obama has addressed the topic of video games with the tone of a parent who repeatedly tells his kids that they can play after their homework is finished. And he’s also indicated that children shouldn’t have access to games made and sold to adults. (Even Obama’s acknowledgment that games aren’t just for kids signals a generational sea change in Washington.) But rather than call for retailers who sell violent games to minors to be fined, or even locked up, Obama places the onus on parents. What’s more, the candidate’s recent use of in-game ads is a shrewd recognition of the medium’s growing cultural clout.
Now Obama is far from a gamer. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said the last game he played was “Pong.” As the population ages and the first generation who grew up playing more modern video games, like “The Legend of Zelda” and “Metal Gear Solid,” expect to hear more coherent, reasoned discussion ” from Democrats and Republicans alike ” of our hobby and its role in society.
For a little more reading on this topic, I’ll direct you to 1up.com’s essay, “What Does an Obama Presidency Mean for Videogames?”
Didn’t get enough Sarah Palin and Obama during the runup to Election Day? Well, Electronic Arts has people like you in mind. The company announced recently that it plans to feature the Republican vice presidential candidate and the presdident-elect as playable characters in a downloadble pack for “Mercenaries 2.” Here’s a video: