Game Biz Types Leaning Toward Obama?

Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two Interactive and John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, might not be able to get together on a merger, but they seem to agree on at least one thing: Barack Obama.

Both game biz execs have contributed to Obama’s presidential campaign.

In fact, in research conducted by GamePolitics of publicly available records, A-list video game industry types seem to be leaning in the Democratic direction. Of 16 donors we found, only three had given to Republican candidates. Meanwhile, 13 had donated to Democrats (although only 9 of these gave to Obama).

While our survey can’t in any way be considered scientific, we looked at several dozen other prominent industry figures, but did not find any presidential campaign contributions that met our guidelines. The ground rules in use dictated that we would only consider 2007-2008 presidential contributions. In some cases, however, donors gave substantial amounts to congressional races or non-candidate-specific political action committees. Those aren’t listed here.

Among the biggest names we found were Rockstar’s Sam Houser (Obama), Spore designer Will Wright (McCain) and Ultima designer (and space traveler) Richard Garriott (Hillary Clinton). Here’s the list:

Republican contributors:

  • Will Wright: (Spore, The Sims) $3,000 to McCain; previously donated $2,350 to Giuliani
  • Bobby Kotick (Activision CEO) $2,300 to McCain; previously donated $2,100 to Romney
  • Curt Schilling (38 Studios) $2,300 to McCain.

Democratic contributors:

GP: We will update the list as additional donors are located.

UPDATE: Adding links for each donor. Just click on the name for details. Also, removed a couple of mistaken entries on the Democratic side. Specifically, we had initially listed a John Carmack, but further review indicated that it was not the game desgner.

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  1. Meathands says:

    Top 20 Contributors to McCain
    Merrill Lynch               $349,170
    Citigroup Inc               $287,801
    Morgan Stanley           $249,377
    Goldman Sachs            $220,045
    JPMorgan Chase & Co  $206,392
    AT&T Inc                      $183,663
    Credit Suisse Group     $175,503
    PricewaterhouseCoopers  $163,670
    Blank Rome LLP              $153,426
    US Government              $152,118
    US Army                        $150,470
    Wachovia Corp            $147,456
    Greenberg Traurig LLP    $145,737
    UBS AG                        $141,365
    Bank of America         $133,975
    FedEx Corp             $121,904
    Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher $120,246
    US Dept of Defense      $118,125
    Lehman Brothers     $115,707
    Bear Stearns             $108,000

    Top 20 Contributors to Obama
    Goldman Sachs      $739,521
    University of California    $697,506
    Harvard University      $501,489
    Citigroup Inc              $492,548
    Google Inc                      $487,355
    JPMorgan Chase & Co  $475,112
    National Amusements Inc  $432,169
    Microsoft Corp                 $429,656
    UBS AG                         $419,550
    Lehman Brothers         $391,774
    Wilmerhale Llp               $383,024
    Time Warner                 $375,063
    Sidley Austin LLP           $370,916
    Skadden, Arps et al       $360,409
    Stanford University        $341,399
    Morgan Stanley          $341,380
    Latham & Watkins         $328,879
    Jones Day                    $309,960
    University of Chicago    $294,237
    General Electric            $290,584
    Bold = Banking or Investment firms
    Anyone surprised we just passed a bailout bill after looking at those lists?
  2. Grombar says:

    Palin never actually followed through, but she did directly ask the city librarian how to go about banning books ("Pastor, I am Gay" being one on her list.)

    The left has political correctness, and the right has the evangelicals. One says "Don’t say anything that offends minorities/the handicapped/women/etc.," and the other says "Don’t say anything that offends my religion or my sense of patriotism." And both sides have their individuals who go so far to extremes that they end up spouting different flavors of the same rhetoric.

  3. Rennie Davis says:

    A large group of science and engineering organizations asked Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama about their science and technology platforms. See

    The responses included no specific mention of video games, but the answers to the first question — "What policies will you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation? — provides insight on how each of the candidates would promote technology development.

    Sen. Obama: "My administration will work to guarantee to students access to strong science curriculum at all grade levels so they graduate knowing how science works – using hands-on, IT-enhanced education. … My proposals for providing broadband Internet connections for all Americans across the country will help ensure that more students are able to bolster their [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] achievement. … Progress in science and technology must be backed with programs ensuring that U.S. businesses have strong incentives to convert advances quickly into new business opportunities and jobs. To do this, my administration will make the R&D tax credit permanent."

    Sen. McCain: "In the last decade, there has been an explosion in the ways Americans communicate with family, friends, and business partners; shop and connect with global markets; educate themselves; become more engaged politically; and consume and even create entertainment. … [M]y commitment to innovation is a commitment to the well-established entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of America’s thinkers and tinkerers whose inventions have improved our lives and promoted prosperity. … As President, I will … [f]und basic and applied research in new and emerging fields such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, and in greater breakthroughs in information technology."   

  4. Verbinator says:

    Not true.  No books were banned. No books were attempted to be banned. You might want to fully investigate the term "Politically Correct" and see which ideologies are having a greater influence on the restriction of ideas and opinions. Hint: The words "Republican" or "conservative" are not likely to come up as the responsible parties.


  5. Zerodash says:

    I own a business, and run another I don’t own.  I can tell you that Obama isn’t the little savior that some people make him out to be.  ALL politicians are crooks to whom the rules don’t apply.   Small & Medium sized businesses don’t deserve to be frisked any more than they already are, regardless of how Democrats playing the "class warfare" card run.  I’ll vote for Obama due to my individual tastes, even though he is going to punish my company for existing and daring to be successful.

    In the end, neither Obama nor McCain give a crap about you.

  6. DeepThorn says:

    When I read Lord British, I thought I saw lord b!tch, haha.  Then glanced over and say Hillary, and was thinking, yup…

    As we can see, if anyone wants to ask for money, ask George Lucas and Alex Rigopulos.

    I see 3 people that I want to know their reasons for donating to their people they have.

  7. Ragnaar says:

    Well… game-oriented site, so game oriented issues…

    I agree that there’s bigger concerns… that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about other concerns too.

    A lot of the game censorship argument is usually boiled down to protection versus further infringement of personal rights.  Actually, now that I think about it, that should be a big concern as well, and this discussion is a microcosm of that bigger picture.  Dismissing the issue of censorship because there are bigger concerns out there is not the answer… otherwise, you’ll get Weapons of Mass Distraction all over again.

  8. DraginHikari says:

    Reallly it should be more that the issue of game censorship shouldn’t even be a marker here.   There are far more bigger concerns right now then the issue of entertainment censorship

  9. Neo_DrKefka says:

    Gamers are college kids who vote really on the Democratic Side even though that side whats to control what you see and do and has been trying to ban video games and or heavily censor them

  10. Monte says:

    Well no, i think i recall that in the past that actors and so forth have mostly come out to support the democrats much more often than the republicans… artists, actors, singers and what-not tend to be liberal much more often than conservative.

  11. Grombar says:

    What the rich want is freedom to make money any way they can — until that freedom lets them make mistakes, at which point they turn around and ask the government to bail them out. Then, as soon as they’re out of danger, they turn around again and lobby for more deregulation.

    McCain warned about Fannie and Freddie one time, but his actual policy — even as recently as the Republican National Convention — has been all about deregulation; he even called himself a "fundamental deregulator." Hear it from the man himself, and from many of his supporters, here:

  12. Dark Sovereign says:

    Wall Street bankers and CEO’s have been giving money to Obama. Most of the campaign money from the oil companies goes to the DNC and Obama. As for Fannie and Freddie? Obama has the second highest total of campaign donations from Fannie and Freddie. He’s just behind Chris Dodd.

    The rich tend towards social leftism. You noticed how happy Wall Street was that the Govm’t was going to save their ass? The Republicans, being, at least nominally, free marketeers, believe that businesses should be allowed to die. Or have you somehow missed the media blaming Republicans for killing that first bailout bill? 

    It was Republicans who tried to reform Fannie and Freddie. McCain warned that both would be heading for a crash what, 3 years ago? 

  13. Bigman-K says:

    Uhmm, Catholics are Christians. I think you meant "not Protestant".

    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  14. hellfire7885 says:

    Actually, he isn;t.


    As grim as a notion it is, any president who did any sort of major good for the country has been assassinated.


    Obama will have double the danger since his making presidency will piss off white supremicists as well as, well, many other groups.

    I remember JFK got crap because he was catholic and not christian

  15. TBoneTony says:

    Remember American Gamers,

    from an Aussie Gamer’s point of view on this, it is not about who you vote into the whitehouse,

    it is more about who you vote to put into the Congress.

    We have Anti-Gamers on both sides of Politics, as well we have a few Gamers who are getting into Politics on both sides of Politics too.

    so I see this or any Election as not about the two men who are going for the whitehouse, but rather of a formation of the Congress and the Senete by you all voting for your local candidates.

  16. Vake Xeacons says:

     Let me put it this way: 

    With everyone casting stones at us, Obama’s been chucking in a pebble every now and then. He may not be as vicious, but he’s still not on our side. 

  17. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Good thing Hilary isn’t his VP or anywhere close to the White House, he probably certainly wouldn’t last a week then. Well, maybe a week, perhaps two since they wouldn’t want to make it so blatant.

  18. HalfShadow says:

    Obama is already dead. If he makes president, I guarantee he won’t live a week before someone takes him out.

  19. Vake Xeacons says:

     Of course not, but I’m not happy with either of the two on those fronts either. There are still other candidates, independent, but they are out there. The last time I voted for someone just cause they were easy wins, the result was disasterous. 

  20. Brokenscope says:

    I really don’t give a fuck about videogames this election. I do give a damn about broader technology policy, healtcare, foreign policy, and economic issues.

  21. Shih Tzu says:

    Seriously?  The U.S. is fighting two wars, banks are failing, the national debt is soaring, we face a staggering energy crisis, and THIS is the only issue that matters to you?

  22. Vake Xeacons says:

     Not until Obama (or any other candidate for that matter) apologizes for their game bashing. McCain’s been making dirty deals with Romney & Liberman (bad idea), but Obama joined in with the "turn off the video games" routine. 

    Until I hear a candidate announce, publicly, "Video games are protected by the Constitution and are a healthy addition to American Lifestyle!", I’m writing in my vote, probably a protest.

  23. Brokenscope says:

    If you don’t care about game politics due to our economic climate then why the fuck are you even here?

  24. Shih Tzu says:

    I don’t vote based on the preferences of game industry leaders (or on gaming-issue anything), but it’s interesting to see the trends.  I’m not very good at analyzing them; you could say that it just follows the trend of the populace at large, since game companies are overwhelmingly located in urban, densely populated regions that already favor Obama, but then this isn’t a random sample, either, but a collection of highly-paid professionals and executives.

    I guess more revealing might be a comparison between these game types and similar leaders in other industries.

  25. Grombar says:

    "The rich tend to be leftists"? Hold on a second.

    The Hollywood rich, sure, they lean left. But that’s one small part of the whole. Most rich people lean right because the right favors them more; conservatism favors deregulation and free-market economics, which let them make money more freely.

    It’s a fact, for example, that McCain wants to give the rich significant tax breaks (even more significant than the tax breaks Bush already gave them), while Obama wants to lower taxes for everyone but the rich. (Source:

    As for Fannie and Freddie, McCain’s campaign has 26 past and present Fannie and Freddie lobbyists on board, and why his chief campaign manager Rick Davis still makes money from his Fannie Mae ties to this day (as Fannie pays his company thousands a month to basically do nothing).(Source:

  26. Dark Sovereign says:

    Can I throw out a colossal "durr" here? The business leaders have been giving to Obama. The Wall Streeters have been giving to Obama. Fannie and Freddie have been giving to Obama. The rich tend to be leftists, and the games industry leans left already.

  27. DarkSaber says:

    Personally, I think that’s more to do with Obama being the ‘trendy’ option rather than anything to do with his politics.



    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  28. Zero Beat says:

    Historically, people in creative and art fields show a very distinct tendency to support Democratics more than Republicans.  The Emmys were littered with "I won, now vote for Obama!" acceptance speeches.

  29. VideolandHero says:

    I know this has to do with games and politics, but our economy is in the gutter.

    — Official Protector of Videoland!

  30. Shih Tzu says:

    Will Wright has also donated at least $78,000 to the Republican National Committee this cycle (I haven’t looked into the details, but my guess is that there are higher limits or no limits on these types of donations; presidential candidates are limited to maximum $2,300 from an individual for primary and general elections each).  He’s dropping major cash on this.

    (Here’s the site I’m getting this from:

  31. lumi says:

    The best thing Lucas has done with his money for awhile now X.x

    I’d like to know what the deal with that pile of Harmonix cash is O.o

    Also, I’m disappointed in Will Wright =(

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