Obama Campaign Theme: Video Games as Metaphor for Underachievement

February 20, 2008 -
Unlike rival Hillary Clinton,  Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama does not have a significant track record with regard to video game content issues.

His speeches, however, often contain a reference to parents making their children "put away the video games." For Obama, video games seem to serve as a sort of metaphor for underachievement.

The Illinois senator repeated the theme last night in a victory speech following his big win over Clinton in the Wisconsin primary. As reported by the Washington Post, which carried a transcript and video of the speech, Obama said:
I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that has built up over centuries, how hard it will be to fix schools, because changing our schools will require not just money, but a change in attitudes.

We're going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children, and that's going to take some time.

A day earlier, speaking to a college crowd in Youngstown, Ohio,  Obama made similar remarks. The Youngstown Vindicator reports:
[Obama called for] investments in early childhood education to close the achievement gap, but with an added emphasis on poetry, music and art, not just academics. Obama admonished parents to do their part by turning off the television, putting away the video games, and instilling in their children a desire to get a good education.

Nor is this a new theme for Obama. GamePolitics reported on similar comments as far back as April, 2006.

Comments

@Muninn

Right, taking his words as it is, he's "unfairly" targetting games. But the truth is, it was a couple of words in his speech for one, and the other is he's drawing on something that's become an icon. Gaming as bad for children or making children lazy has been a message that's long been playing, and gamers themselves have reinforced that perspective as much as non-gamers.

How many gaming ads or gaming commercials begin with two boys (or these days men) sitting on a couch, with a stack of video games and snack foods around them? How many times does Hollywood or television feature a character stating that he's a slacker and plays video games?

Sure, Obama is perpetuating the whole "gamers are lazy" schtick, but he's not the one that's starting it, and it is not the crux of his message. Honestly, if you wanted to just win the point that he was badmouthing games, then congratulations! Now, please point it out the next 20,000 times its done as well and maybe we'll start scratching the surface.

I'll totally support this. it's not a metaphor for underacheivement, what it is is a perfectly valid critique of modern parenting. Parents who don't get involved in their child's life and let the "electronic babysitter" run the joint create problems, like a lack of role models. when parents don't raise their kids, it leads to "concerned mothers" bitching about how they need laws like Hillary's because they're too retarded to say "fuck your xbox, junior, we're going on a family outing, where would you like to go?" So if junior doesn't get to play mario party 8 for 6 hours a day, I'm fine with this.
maybe if parents were more involved with their kids and helped to do things as a family that everyone enjoyed, junior wouldn't WANT to play mario party 8 for 6 hours a day.

Thats not to say that families couldn't gather round systems like the WII or Rockband to have fun, I think those personally make awesome family games, especially when playing warioware.

But what we've grown up is with a generation of parents who've let TV and video games raise their kids. Parent's not responsible enough to be involved with what their kids are doing, and when they're not doing that, they're letting video games and TV raise their kids.

Honestly, would you, as a parent, let your 10 year old play GTA San Andreas? or Kane and Lynch every moment of their spare time? I know I wouldn't.

I'm not saying they'll make him a psycho or anything, but like certain movies and TV shows, they're just not age appropriate, but many parents aren't even involved enough to say "no, you're not old enough".

Parents NEED to be involved with their children, and if that means less video games played, I'll still support it. Because when we have parents raising kids, we'll have better rounded children, and when parents can once again be held accountable for the way their kid acts, legislation to regulate video games becomes unneeded, and hard to support.

To reiterate, it's not gamers obama's bashing, it's irresponsible parents.

I think it is being misread, I don't see a metaphor of underachievement. I see him saying that focus needs to be on education first, then you can get to your tv and video games.

I don't see any problem with that. He certainly didn't say anything about banning games.

the Jeff1y,

Obama hasn't called for laws to be enacted, so he's not really nanny-stating anyone, unlike Hillary.

And frankly, he's reminding parents that they have a job to do, not telling them how to do it. There's a world of diffrence there, and it needs to be said.
Besides, if people take obama's words to heart, and start getting involved with what their children are doing, guess what? a nanny state becomes unpopular and obsolete!

Obama doesn't WANT to make video games a government issue, he's calling on parents to do their job, rather than the government to do it for them.

Maybe you should think a little, instead of knee-jerk reacting to anything bad that comes your way, y'know like jack thompson does.

He's not saying video games make you dumb, he's saying TOO many video games are the problem.

A little fun every once and a while is ok.

I agree with that, Evan. Do your chores before getting your rewards, that's what I see.

Why are people arguing over "what he meant"? No matter what Obama's INTENTIONS are, I fear the worst for our country.

Oh, sure, we may not get drafted into a war, but how many soldiers have to lose their jobs again?

Off Topic, but I feel the need to say this everywhere.
Are you aware that Obama has said, repeatedly, that he wants to severely cut NASA's funds?
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18384932

Look up what the space program's done for you if you think it doesn't matter. :3
(insulation, ultrasound, fire alarms, enriched baby food)

@"Give obama a pas" Comment

I was saying this to illustrate the community's willingness to cut Obama some slack even though his position as given on common sense media is very similar to that of Clinton and Romney both of whom were lambasted here.

Again I'm not saying that either Clinton or Romney were right, but Obama is no better

@Mredria: "his position as given on common sense media is very similar to that of Clinton and Romney "

No. It's not. Clinton and Romney want to federally mandate what we can and can't have access to.

Obama is merely recommending that parents take responsibility for their kids.

If Obama had said: "We’re going to have to parent better, and turn off the tv, and put the candy away..." would it suddenly be "Obama Campaign Theme: Candy as Metaphor for Fat People"?

@TRT-X
Obama has no qualms about stepping in: "But if the industry fails to act, then my administration would" He is cool with the idea, just like Romney and since Romney did not forward any legislation then the two are remarkably similar

@ Nitherean

"Hate to make it political….as both Clinton and Obama are better then anyone the Republicans have to offer.

Obama = Style
Clinton = Substance
McCain = Draft you young’ins to fight a 100 year war "

*ahem*...
/start rant
It's people like you who frustrate me to know end. You take in the tripe sound bites that your candidate spews forth and then regurtitate them without ever bothering to think for yourself and maybe look into what the true original statement was in its proper context. McCain in no way wants to fight a 100 year. WWII over ended 50 years ago. Do we still have troops in Germany? Yes. Do we still have troops in Japan? Yes. This is the context in which he referenced the US being in Iraq in 100 years. He said that along as the safety of US troops was assured and that they were no longer actively in combat with the Iraqis, that he could foresee the US having a military base in Iraq 100 years from now.
I bet you that few, if any, of the posters here have personally been affected by the horrors of war as much as Senator McCain has. I truly believe that he only keep the men and women of the US in harm's way as long as the situation dictated, and not one moment more. His firm stance on human rights and against torture should tell you that.
end rant/

Obama wasn't villifying games any more than he was villifying TV, on which many people were probably watching him speak. The issue is excess, as stated many times above. Hey, I'm a beer drinker, but I'm not going to take offense if someone is making an arguement about addressing a social ill and says "put the beer down."

@yowsers.... hopefully we can find the soldiers other jobs that aren't limited guarding the economic interests of large corporations in a foreign land, not to mention the whole being shot at and shooting at others thing.

Not so sure that a "it will be bad for the economy to stop the war" argument is all that relevant. I'm gonna say that for me personally death or disfigurement of both soldiers and civilians is a bit weightier than people not having jobs waging war.

What a sensationalist article.. I swear, the interwebs are filled with half-cocked journalist these days..

Maybe he shoulda' just said, "Move our society away from drama-queens, so we can deal with REAL issues."

It would be interesting to see Mr Obama discuss around research findings showing that Video games are contributing to children's mental development.

I change my vote, Bugs Buny for Prez. Go Bugs!

I'd like to see someone with the ability to read and reason write an article based on the very things they pasted into it. GP what sort of nonsense post is this? If you have political agenda to push just announce you support x candidate, no need to fabricate/lie to satisfy needs.

I look forward to seeing how the US turns out if Obama becomes the next President.

@xNoLaNx
You and those people who are making the same comments disgust me. This website is called GAMEPOLITICS. What does that mean? It means that they will report on goddamn near anything pertaining to video games. One such thing is what a front-runner presidential candidate thinks about video games. Obama said that in order to "instill a sense of excellence in our children" we must must turn off the TV and put video games away. Fair enough. This implies that video games and television have a detrimental effect on the education. That argument can be made. Fair enough. Therefore, I have little qualm with GP about making this claim. His speech implies that, without video games, kids would do better in school so it's a very reasonable conclusion to make that Obama has used video games as a metaphor for underachievement, and possibly that he does not like them.

So, you call GP both unreasonable, illiterate, and untrustworthy because they drew a conclusion about something that Obama said. Not only that, you claim that they have a political agenda. Who the hell does GP support? I think something negative about EVERY major candidate has been said on this site. This is the first time I've seen such outrage from people here, consequently on the first time Obama has been cast in a negative light.

@TRT-X
"Obama is merely recommending that parents take responsibility for their kids."
Fair enough. But I don't want the office of the president wasted on friendly parental advice.

"He is not saying “video games are bad for our children”. He’s saying “bad parents are bad for our children”."
Yes. He. Is. I remember him specifically asking parents to "put video games away." Granted, he was talking primarily about parenting, but the parent's function is to turn of TVs and video games. It is reasonable (again) to conclude that he does not like video games and considers them detrimental toward the education system.

It's funny that when a politician states that kids should put down the video games and get outside it becomes an internet drama-fest, but when Shigeru Miyamoto says he feels kids play too many games and should get other hobbies and should get outside, he's a visionary. (He said in an interview regarding where he gets ideas for Zelda, Pokemon and Pikmin that he used to explore the forests behind his house as a kid and play/pretend adventuring and exploring --Zelda -- and check-out the bugs and small animals -- Pokemon and Pikmin.

I'm not saying I'll vote for Barack Obama or not, but I am saying this won't sway my opinion for the negative at all.

It seems to me that gamers, because we've been picked-on so much recently, have developed a bit of a oversensitivity complex.

Vote for Obama! Hillary Clinton won 11 states and Obama won 25! Yahoooooooooooo!

Obama is a wise dude that is merely suggesting that don't let the TV or Video Games do your parenting. Get involved... encourage your kids to learn and engage in other things.

TV and Video Games are forms of entertainment and come at the cost of a real loss of time that could be spent achieving a better preparation and level of happiness in life.

He isn't saying don't watch TV or don't play games at all. He is also not specifically singling out video games as stuff that supposedly makes youth get violent and start gangs and rape children once they become priests ... you know all the things TV media dont talk about when they are talking about how video games make people violent and about the latest pet-clothing craze.

This is because he isn't on the bank-roll of a special interest group for movies/tv etc concerned by the ever growing popularity of the interactive-entertainment medium of video games at the cost of a diminishing popularity of movies/tv etc.

Personally, I look forward to the day when video games are so common it doesn't make an impression when someone important mentions them.

In this tread, misintepretation.

Some of you guys (not all) need to read the article again and realise he's not calling out to "ban the vidya". Honestly, it has come to a point where some of you start making knee jerk reactions over anything slightly negative, video game related.

"Turn off the television set"? Why does Barack Obama hate television so much?!

Nothing wrong with what he said, he's just calling out for more education over entertainment.

And you thought politicians jumped to conclusions.

I mostly agree with what he says. TV, if its your thing go for it, whatever. Same goes for video games. If moderation is involved your good to go, nothing else will reflect better on your grades than that.

Actually we need to instill a sense of mediocrity in our children. Telling them every day that they can be the best, that they can do anything, that puts a lot of pressure on them to excel where they don't have to in order to lead a fulfilling life. SOMEONE has to be the clerk at the DMV, the school janitor, the road construction crew, ect.

That said, kids these days do spend way too much time indoors, but it's not just video gaming. The internet itself is a pretty serious culprit.

Just liek last time he's basically saying that people should stop being so lazy and get politically active.

Now if you can be politically active and still play video games, I highly doubt he'll mind.

"Actually we need to instill a sense of mediocrity in our children. Telling them every day that they can be the best, that they can do anything, that puts a lot of pressure on them to excel where they don’t have to in order to lead a fulfilling life. SOMEONE has to be the clerk at the DMV, the school janitor, the road construction crew, ect."

QFT

Western society in general is putting far to much pressure on young people to get lots of academic qualifications, unless they are talented in sports, music or other "high profile" career possibilities. I remember, while I was growing up in the UK, I was pretty much thrown aside by my school because they did not think I would achieve academic excellence and I was no good at sports. Jobs such as fishing, mining, farming, construction, low level labour and admin work, are all considered "entry level" or "failure" jobs.

Sadly, in recent years, I have found two troubling situations resulting from this. Firstly, farmers and other low end employeers who either cannot get people to work for them for a wage they can afford to pay are employees illegal immigrants who tend to work harder and often take alot more pride in their work. Secondly, a fair number of chain stores and other "entry level" positions are only available to young people, and a college education has become a standard.. if you do not have one, or you are older than about 20, it is next to impossible to get a basic job.

Are people seriously threatened by this?

I mean, I'm all up for defending video games and all that, but, man

The people who get all up-in-arms whenever it's implied that time playing video games might not be the most productive thing someone can do...*sigh* What the hell, people.

I'm a member of the ECA, so naturally I'm up to fight against Anti-game statements. However, I do not find this offensive. He didn't say that games were causing us to become mindless killing machines, he just put them on the same level as television. And I'm ok with that. He's referring to the "comic book guy from the simpsons" kind of gamer. All that said, I do not in anyway support Obama. I disagree with him on almost all of the issues. I'm just pointing out that the statement is not a threat.

It's a generic throwaway line. I know it's the duty of the webmaster to comb the newswires for any intersection between games and larger current events as a whole, but... I'm not sure this counts as a campaign theme.

[...] In a recent article, GamePolitics reports on what they believe to be a recurring theme in senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. According to the blog, he uses video games as a “metaphor for underachievement.” As reported by the Washington Post, Obama said: I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that has built up over centuries, how hard it will be to fix schools, because changing our schools will require not just money, but a change in attitudes. [...]

Have to agree with Obama, actually. I've seen too many parents let their children play video games for a great amount of time, flying in the face of studying time. I've been a gamer since I was 4, am 19 year-old college student now, and have played games with respect to my academics; this was because my parents set parameters for my game-time, of which I plan to do the same when I have children. Notice also that Obama used Television as well; he's not singling out video games, but more so forms of entertainment that children far too often let themselves get absorbed in. I have seen relatives get absorbed in such activities, putting their academic careers at an extreme distance to their leisure time; Obama pretty much hit the nail on the head, for me.

I see the ObamaZombies are alive and well.

"No braaaaaaaaains..."

I was at one of those speeches, and he was simply talking about the role of the parent in a child's development. He wasn't demonizing video games, simply remarking that many parents use them as a crutch. I agree with those statements made.

Well, I would have to agree partially. Video games breed apathy. He is not saying they are evil or bad. He is simply saying that parents need to step up and not let their kids play games on end, they will simply turn into vegetables and not do anything productive. One thing I LIKE, is the fact that he is putting the blame on the parents, not on the makers, or the players. If you think that you are NOT apathetic from playing to many video games you are lieing to your self. Instead of marathoning on 12 hours of video games on your day off, you could be doing positive things. Dont get me wrong, I'm a hardcore gamer, but what he says has a point, as long as it is more moderate as that crazy loon Hillary

It depends on the the game.

You can agree or not, but it's a misreading of his statement to think that he's saying videogames are a problem. They're only a problem because kids aren't getting an education. He mentions them as something like TV, because they're POPULAR. It's not even that kids spend too much time with them...it's just that kids are spending all of their time being entertained, and not enough of their time being educated. It doesn't take a genius to understand this. What kind of site is this, and are the stories always this...off.

Syd
QFGT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This article is irresponsible, and I look to GamePolitics to be a serious site. So I'm pretty dissappointed. This article is irresponsible because it doesn't just show what Obama said, it warps it with the title that sensationalizes Obama's statement.

I'm not an Obama supporter in the slightest, but I think GamePolitics is blowing that statement out of proportion.
I agree with everything said in that Obama quote above. I think many American kids need more discipline in their lives and part of that is less TV watching and gaming. He didn't equate playing video games with failure. I think he's saying parents have to teach, encourage, and enforce discipline and balance in their habits and behavior. Don't let your kids do whatever they want because it's easy.

tl:dr (oh, you guys know what I mean)

Put into the even wider context of his speech and what he could actually do wiht policy, he's mostly talking about getting our kids more inspired and more into creative subjects like art and music. These are noble endeavors often affected negatively by gov't policy. He has the right path in mind and come November I'm trusting him to walk it well.

I, too, have no problem with this.

I personally regret wasting a lot of my school life playing video games and wish I had gotten out more like I do now. I find it hard to play single player games alone, these days.

And again, he's telling parents to start parenting their kids and not ignore their children and let video games do the parenting. He's saying that it's time parents started watching their kids instead of blaming games.

Video games are not a metaphor for underachievement. They are underachievement. Brainy young people used to go out and learn how to do things. Now we learn hand-eye coordination to an impressive, but still nearly meaningless, level.

I also don't have a problem with this. There ARE kids who need to turn off the tv and video games. Those are the people Obama is talking about here. I would be absolutely shocked if Obama didn't share the same rational opinion that I do: Video Games are a (lovely) form of entertainment, but are (in many cases) mindless entertainment and so should be had in moderation- especially by children. I don't think Obama has a problem with adults indulging in their legal right to enjoy themselves. He isn't attacking video games like Hilary does, he is attacking laziness, which *can* manifest itself as constant gaming.

[...] Fordham Prof Loves Obama, Hates His Video Game Stance February 21st, 2008 | Category: Gaming News Yesterday’s Barack Obama story on GamePolitics (see: Obama Campaign Theme: Video Games as Metaphor for Underachievement) generated a good bit of controversy. [...]

He's not saying video games or TV is bad,instead he's just saying that too much of it is bad.Anything in excess is harmful,so I do agree with him.Hillary,on the other hand is a stupid technophobe who's probably too stupid to turn on an electric blanket...so her views on video games is more or less because she just doesn't understand technology because of her 1950's mindset.

[...] Obama Campaign Theme: Video Games as Metaphor for Underachievement February 20th, 2008 Raymond wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptUnlike rival Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama does not have a significant track record with regard to video game content issues. His speeches, however, often contain a reference to parents making their … [...]
 
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