Colleen Lachowicz, the Maine Democratic senate candidate criticized for playing World of Warcraft and accused of making violent comments online, told Polygon that the Maine GOP has taken her comments out of context.
"For nearly a year, my time and priorities have been focused on two things: getting out and meeting the people in my district and working as a social worker with Maine kids and families," Lachowicz said. "In the last ten months, I've spent no more than forty five minutes play WoW. I also knit socks—and that too has taken a back seat to my work and my campaign.
"My comments were and continue to be taken out of context," she added. "In the context of the game it's no different than words like 'throwing a bomb' are used in football. It's unfortunate that the Maine GOP is continuing to distract from the real issues impacting Maine families--and the record of the last two years while they've been running Augusta."
Last week, the Main GOP kicked off a campaign seemingly targeting Lachowicz' World of Warcraft gaming habits. The campaign included mailers and a website, ColleensWorld.com, and used an image of Lachowicz' World of Warcraft character along with the words "Colleen's fantasy world." An article on the Maine GOP site states that Lachowicz "has been living a time-consuming double life as a member of the World of Warcraft community."
Reached for comment on Friday, Maine Republican party director David Sorensen told Polygon that the campaign isn't fueled by Lachowicz' gaming hobby, but rather what the party describes as her violent comments in the game's forums.
"We're not attacking Colleen for being a gamer, our website and mailers are focused on Colleen's extremely offensive remarks made in connection with her gaming," Sorensen said, "including saying that Maine's governor must have been a child prostitute or drug dealer, and how she might drown conservative activist Grover Norquist in a bathtub."
Lachowicz tells Polygon that her opponents may have created the campaign against her without realizing how commonplace a hobby gaming is and that it could harm them more than help them.
"The mailers that are being sent around here really focus on my WoW playing," she said. "I think this backfired on them, and they're trying to say something else."
Lachowicz called gaming a "completely normal American hobby" and cited the latest ESRB survey, which says 47 percent of gamers are female and the average gamer is around 30 years old.
"I think it shows how out of touch they are," Lachowicz said. "Millions of Americans play online games, MMOs like WoW and others, and most of them are professionals. I play with retired law professors, anthropologists, college professors, journalists, and stay-at-home moms—everyone plays games.
"I didn't expect this, it's kind of a normal activity," she added. "The thing that just blows my mind is—really? This is what you have? Let's talk about the issues. I haven't even played WoW that much. I haven't had the time, I've been campaigning."
Lachowicz has received emails and phone calls from people across the country offering their support, many of them thanking her for "being a woman in gaming" and not backing away from her hobby in the face of the campaign. She has also received emails from other Republican politicians who believe the Maine GOP's campaign is acceptable.
"As a woman I have to say that people have this misconception it's a teenage boy playing in his parents' basement, and that's so not true!" Lachowicz said. "And maybe it's a good thing that [the GOP] will finally have learned that."