GamePolitics was on hand last night for a unique combination of MMORPG and grassroots presidential politics, the Ron Paul march within World of Warcraft.
I arrived at the Alliance city of Ironforge at about 8:10 PM Eastern time, 20 minutes ahead of scheduled jump-off. I was using an avatar named Gamepolitics (what else?), a gnome mage that I created just for this event. I play WoW, but not on the Whisperwind server where the march was being held.
Upon arrival I wandered around IF near the auction house and bank, but didn’t see any sign of the Ron Paul crowd. A character named Xionn recognized the GP name and we exchanged greetings.
Still in search of the march, I wandered out the front gates of IF and found a couple of avatars sporting "RP Revolution" guild tags. This must be the place! The bulk of the marchers were assembling on the hilly road leading up to IF. I estimated 200+ characters in line. Many bore names that related to Ron Paul in some way. The organizers seemed to be at the head of the line and were trying to get everyone into single file.
I didn’t join the march line for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve not yet made up my mind about who I’m voting for. Also, I was there to cover the event, not participate in it. So I stood off to the side and followed along as the march jumped off about five minutes behind schedule. That’s not bad when dealing with so many event participants.
I took some screenshots as the march proceeded up the hill into IF and paraded around the interior of the city a bit. Next, everyone lined up to board the underground tram to Stormwind. While on the tram to SW I asked a character named Allfree why she (or he) is for Ron Paul. Answer: "I’m a longtime Libertarian and against the war in Iraq."
There was a lengthy queue to get through the tram portal into Stormwind (see pic at left). Once into the city, I followed the march for a bit longer, but then had to bail before they headed for Westfall, their next destination. At that point I felt like I’d gotten the flavor of the event and seen what I needed to see.
Based on what I observed, the march participants were well behaved. I noticed that some members of the RP Revolution guild wore a tabard with a scroll design on it which I believe was intended to represent the U.S. Constitution.
Many non-marchers were not so thrilled about the event, feeling that it detracted from their enjoyment of the game. Many seemed surprised that it was taking place, despite the advance publicity. Complaints were voiced that the march was causing lag. Indeed, the Whisperwind server did seem a bit laggy. There were some calls to ban further political activities on WoW. Some anti-Ron Paul griefers spammed rude messages. A character /spit on a paladin marcher named Ronpaulidan. Someone else threw a snowball at the marchers. None of this was too surprising and it didn’t really detract from the march.
While some may have found the Ron Paul event silly, inconsequential or simply annoying, my take is that it was a most unique way to harness the social and political potential of the game space. Such activities have primarily been confined to Second Life up until this point, so it’s good to see gamers pushing the envelope in other gaming venues.