For Obama, Video Games Still an Underachievement Metaphor

Stretching back to the Democratic primary season, Sen. Barack Obama has been referencing video games as a sort of code for underachievement by America’s youth.

With his campaign in the home stretch, Obama continues to hit that theme. The Chicago Sun-Times provides the text of a speech delivered by Obama in Columbus, Ohio on Friday. Ohio, of course, is a key battleground state and both the Obama and McCain campaigns are going all-out to woo voters there.

Here’s the game-related language from Obama’s speech. It differs little from comments he has made throughout the campaign, and drew cheers and applause, according to the Sun-Times’s transcript:

You know, I will invest in education. We’ll make sure government gets behind the schools. But it won’t make much of a difference if parents aren’t turning off the television set and putting away the video games and making sure that our children are doing their homework.


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  1. 0
    lasersanchez says:

    I think one of the other key differences is that Obama isn’t telling people that video games are going to make their children violent hate machines.

  2. 0
    projecthappy says:

    Well, he’s right that dumping more money into (already overfunded) schools won’t help unless the parents raise their own kids. And you can’t simply force parents to force their kids to do their homework (in a "free society" anyways).

    The way I look at it, he’s admitting his programs won’t work.


    I think it’s pretty funny though how everyone defends Obama’s constant game-blaming. I’ve been around gaming sites since before Obama was around, and anytime a regular (usually conservative) politician said something negative about kids playing too much games, or mature games, they got lambasted. I see a huge double standard these days.

  3. 0
    CK20XX says:

    I… oh.  Yeah, that’s right.  Phew, so I’m not needed here.  Carry on, everyone.


    "They were retarded hairless pink bunnies, all of them. Except Shigeru Myamoto and… well, the good ones were just too /rare/ to be worth bothering about." – Mason Hornblower on the extinction of the human race

  4. 0
    Alex says:

    Agreed. I mean, I see what you’re saying, GP, but at the same time I don’t think he’s really pushing a "video games are bad, mmk?" agenda so much as just saying that, yeah, if your kids are neglecting their homework then the parents need to be more proactive in making sure it gets done. And yeah, when I was a kid one of my mom’s (rarely employed) forms of punishment was unplugging the TV and disconnecting the consoles, and it was pretty effective so I can’t really say I disagree.

    Edit: And at least he did sot of toss TV and video games out there, rather than singling out games specifically.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  5. 0
    jkdjr25 says:

    To be honest making sure your kids are getting their homework done is just good parenting. There is a time to turn off the games and get things done. How is this a bad thing to say when we’ve been saying it for years?

  6. 0
    Kalerender says:

    Not sure about the American school system as I’m an Aussie, but over here our highschool was filled with generally work work work, and then homework was finishing off sections we didn’t get done in class, assignments or reading for what we were learning, hardly ‘social engineering’. When you’re moving from class to class and spending anywhere from 1-2hrs a day on 4-5 different subjects, you need homework to help firm ideas you’re learning, or half the next class is spent making sure that everyone is about at the bare minimum to even progress onwards.

    I have a student in my classes who being a teenage girl does not practice her work at home, or does so very minimally, and with only one class a week and without that later refreshment in her brain her skill progression and opportunity to learn more lags behind other students who DO practice. In comparison I have another student who only does one night a week, but practices a lot at home, and his standard of work is very good, and I can be sure if I teach him something, next week he’ll retain 80-90% of it, compared to the 30-40% if you don’t practice.

    That same can be said of homework, if you don’t return to it reasonably quickly, you do not learn, and then school time is spent going over the same material again and again, which then means education standards fall.

  7. 0
    Weatherlight says:

    Parents should be turning off the TV and Video games to make their kids do homework. But at the same time Teachers should be teaching at school and not just sending all the work home so they can do their social engineering experiments during class.


  8. 0
    Master_E says:
    Don’t stories like this usually have the commentors going, "No! You take that back, person that said that! You idiot! You don’t know what you’re talking about! Typical politician!"
    Oh wait, this is about Obama. Nevermind. :)
  9. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    It’s kind of difficult to play GoW and do homework at the same time, so it’s a parent’s responsiblity to make sure the homework takes precedence :)

  10. 0
    Alex says:

    Holy CRAP what a knee-jerk reaction… I’m not even sure where to start. Might as well go in order.

    1. "Metaphor for corruption?" Where did you even get that one?

    2. He isn’t singling out games. Or did you not even notice that TV got just as big a mention (read: miniscule)?

    3. At no point in his speech did he suggest that nobody should play video games ever, or that the government should regulate violent video games. So I don’t even know where that diatribe about constitutional rights came from.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  11. 0
    SeanB says:

    wow, way to blow this WAY over the top. how does "Do your homework first" turn into "i’m against freedom of speech"

    He didn’t even say that video games are bad, he just said "Do your homework FIRST". Education first, that’s his message. He never said you cant do video games second, he’s just listing priorities.

  12. 0
    Vake Xeacons says:

    There’s no question that good parenting is the message of Obama’s speech here. However, the fact that he is REPEATEDLY using video games as a metaphore for corruption is a sign of where he stands. With everyone casting stones at us, Obama’s been chucking in a pebble every now and then. While “gaming rights” is obviously a much smaller issue than the wars or the economic crisis, it cannot be completely ignored. What this really boils down to is Constitutional rights, and if Obama is willing to lax on the freedom of speech, what else is he willing to ignore, or worse, attack? Freedom of Religion? Freedom of Peaceful Assembly? Freedom to Petition for Redress of Grievances? And that’s just the First Amendment.

  13. 0
    Murdats says:

    He uses video games because thats what is popular for kids to do these days instead of homework.

    he also mentions TV, if this was the 20’s or something a similar statement would be that parents should make sure that kids put down their sticks and tires, or balls and cups and do their homework.

  14. 0
    sirjonk says:

    Agree with the others here.  Imagine if you will a site called and every time someone urged that a child should turn off the tv and do their homework, the site critically blogged about it.  "Why are parents telling kids to stop watching TV, don’t they know it’s educational?"  It would be bizarre.

  15. 0
    Krit says:

    I don’t think he’s blaiming video games for underacheivements or anything, what he said is actually what I expect from parents. No matter how much you like games, you still need to do your homework if you want to learn anything.

  16. 0
    SeanB says:

    Sorry, but I agree with Obama here. GP is attempting to split his sentence into 2 mesages. This is no metaphor.

    Homework before Leisure, no matter what the leisure is.

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