candidate Ron Paul
U.S. Government photo
By Sonya Smith
The Orange County Register (MCT)
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A New Year's Day rally is brewing in Irvine by way of Azeroth.
A group of Ron Paul supporters are using forums and a simple Web site to organize a march in the World of Warcraft computer game in support of the Republican presidential hopeful.
Azeroth is a kingdom in the mythical world of the massively multiplayer online game made by Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine, Calif.. More than nine million players pay a subscription fee to play WoW.
The rally will be led from Ironforge to Stormwind by a group of players (a "guild") named "RP Revolution". Organizers used an online discussion board at ronpaulforums.com Wednesday to spread the message. Two days later they built a Web page for the rally on revolutioni.st, a site that claims to support Ron Paul's beliefs, but that is careful to disclose that the candidate "does not necessarily support all the beliefs" on the site.
This is not the first time politics have intertwined with gaming. Already Machinima.com has made orcs, shamans and mages mouth the words from an actual presidential debate, complete with a Warcraft-version of CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Both of those political presences inside the game go against advice written on GameSpy, a Web site operated out of Costa Mesa, Calif., that reviews and tracks gaming. When the virtual war game launched in November 2004, GameSpy's Allen Rausch wrote a do's and don'ts that included "Don't: Bring real-world politics into the game."
"We play World of Warcraft to get away from the real world ... So whether you're a Republican or Democrat, blue-stater or red-stater, liberal or conservative, let's leave the sloganeering and yelling on Rush Limbaugh's show and in Michael Moore movies where they belong. In World of Warcraft, we should all come together for just one political purpose – beating the snot out of the gnomes," Rausch wrote.
But in the 2008 presidential election the Internet is turning into the latest landscape for targeting voters who might otherwise miss political ads. Here are more examples of political campaigning on the web:
—In August, Allan Barlett at the Orange County Republican blog wrote that the Irvine Ron Paul Meetup group he helps organize had raised more money than any other group in the country, without stating the dollar amount. Meetup.com allows people to meet people who live nearby and share similar interests through the Internet and then physically. The Irvine Ron Paul group has 491 members and is just one of the thousands of groups nationwide that have been created to support various candidates online via Meetup, Yahoo, Google and other Web sites.
—Groups devoted to presidential and other political candidates are spread across social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Each candidate has dozens of profile pages and groups devoted to their runs for office. For example, the Democrat group titled "Take Back the White House 2008" was started in April 2005 and has 22,988 members.
—YouTube's status rose from a timewaster to political presence when the viral video of Sen. George Allen calling his rival's campaign worker "macaca" ended his career in 2006. And 2007 has seen hundreds of presidential-tied videos surpassing the one million views mark – such as the sultry favorite "Obama Girl," Hillary Clinton's robotic laugh and the obsessive hair and makeup routine of John Edwards. The Obama Girl video, of a pretty girl singing her love for the Democratic presidential hopeful, has been viewed more than 4 million times and even more times when featured on news and talk shows.
(c) 2007, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).
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