Nov. 7, 2012 at 5:50 PM ET
Despite what the Republican Party of Maine might want people to believe, playing "World of Warcraft" does not make a person unfit to hold office.
Or so Colleen Lachowicz proved Tuesday night.
Lachowicz plays "World of Warcraft" as a level-85 orc named Santiaga. She is also a newly elected state senator in Maine.
Lachowicz, a Democrat, beat Republican incumbent Thomas Martin Jr. to become the senator-elect for Maine's District 25 — this after the Republican Party of Maine launched a campaign to out her love of the fantasy role-playing game.
Maine's GOP had accused Lachowicz — a 48-year-old health-care worker — of living a "bizarre double life" and set up a website revealing her participation in "World of Warcraft." Not only did the site show off a picture of the orc rogue assassin character she plays, it also dug up online comments she made about her love of the (sometimes violent) game. The Republican Party also sent out mailers as well as a press release claiming her "disturbing alter-ego" had been "revealed."
But while the Maine GOP had hoped the "World of Warcraft" outing would sour people on her as a candidate, it seemed to have the exact opposite effect. Lachowicz suddenly found herself in the international spotlight, appearing in headlines and on news programs around the world (check out my interview with her here) as gamers flocked to her defense and showered her with support.
And then, on Tuesday night, Lachowicz beat Martin with the final vote tally at 8,666 to 7,753. Despite the small numbers, it was a big win, especially since the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee had labeled Maine's District 25 state senate race one of the key battlegrounds in the country.
"I’m so glad people were able to reject the negative personal attacks that have no place in politics," she told NBC News by phone Wednesday. "It really should be about talking to people about what they want in their government. Not the negative stuff. No one needs that."
She said that she believes, ultimately, the Republican attacks backfired on the party.
"So many people in the district were just appalled," she said. "And a lot of the people I talked to were young, first-time voters and they seemed to be the most incensed by it. They saw it as a personal attack over something that is a normal activity these days — to play video games. And I heard some people say, 'Oh they're saying the same thing about me.'"
Indeed, as news of Lachowicz's win has spread, gamers from around the world have flocked to her Facebook page to offer congratulations.
"My heartfelt congratulations, Santiaga. I hope (and I really believe) that you will perform as good in your new office as you have in your duties as a Rogue of the Horde," wrote supporter Victor Börjesson.
Kathryn Welteroth, a level-90 Worgen from Massachusetts, quipped, "New achievement unlocked: obtain government position. Congratulations!"
And for all her gaming fans, Lachowicz posted a familiar tune — the victory fanfare from the Final Fantasy games.
Lackowicz had previously told NBC News that she had had to put her "WoW"-playing on hold because she had been so busy with the campaign. But now?
She says Blizzard sent her copy of the latest "World of Warcraft" expansion — "Mists of Pandaria." It was signed by the entire development team. After she catches up on her sleep, she plans to give it a play.
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Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.