Illustration by Christine Hipp

It’s all fun and games until someone takes it too seriously. On Oct. 4, the Maine Republican party released a statement regarding the “disturbing alter-ego” of Colleen Lachowicz, the Democratic candidate for a state Senate seat in Maine. In her free time, Lachowicz slides into her alter-ego’s skin and roams the wilds of Azeroth as an orc rogue. That is, she plays the online computer game, World of Warcraft (WoW).

While the Republicans may be right to be concerned about how much of her time is spent on the video game battlefield (according to Nick Yee, who has compiled demographics of WoW, the average WoW player is online 21-22 hours a week), it is bizarre that they would relate her character in WoW to the woman running for office.

A website created by the Maine Republican Party, called “Colleen’s World,” features snippets of Colleen’s online WoW chats as well as a provocative image of an orc phasing into an image of the real Colleen.

A description of the website reads, “Colleen Lachowicz is a Democrat candidate for Maine State Senate. In Colleen’s online fantasy world, she gets away with crude, vicious and violent comments like the ones below. Maine needs a State Senator that lives in the real world, not in Colleen’s fantasy world.”

For the uninitiated, there is basically one main point to playing video games: to emulate something that you are not, whether it is a race car driver in Gran Turismo, the best quarterback ever in the new Madden title, or even an orc in a fantasy online role-playing game.

The issue here is larger than just accusing someone of poor principles and less than honorable character simply because they play a rogue in a game. Diversionary tactics like these are driving our candidates to petty politics, on every campaign trail and from every party. Our representatives are too busy attempting to destroy their opponent’s personal image to focus on what actually matters: the issues that plague the country.

Simply put, there is a fine line between what actually matters in a political fist-fight and what doesn’t.

For example, a past in World Entertainment Wrestling (WWE) is not a significant character flaw. In 2010, Republican Linda McMahon lost the race for a US Senate seat in Connecticut. Her opponent, then the state attorney general, smeared her character with attacks on her past involvement with WWE, of which she was a chief architect. In this year’s election, she runs against incumbent Democrat Christopher S. Murphy, who the Washington Times has said is avoiding the use of her wrestling connection.

Regardless of what political office hangs in the balance, representatives need to stay away from diversionary tactics. What matters are the issues at hand.

One such issue that needs to be addressed is the state of education in the United States. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics described tuition at public four-year universities rising nine percent from the 2009-10 academic year to the 2011-12 academic year.

This is unacceptable.

As we can see from our own tortured UC system, problems with education need to be addressed at all levels of our government.

The list goes on. We are still at war in Afghanistan. While Obama has promised a departure date of 2014 from the country, it remains to be seen whether that will be the case. War, social issues, the economy, and so many other subjects are on our radar to be fixed or adjusted.

At the rate we’re going, it might take a horde of orcs to affect the change we wish to see our government make.