Real Americans: Farmers Vs. Orcs


John Rogers over at the Kung Fu Monkey blog has made a very interesting observation about the nature of what constitutes the American Heartland in our country. Because I’m both from what I lovingly refer to as the "flyover states" originally and because I’m an avid gamer, I find this absolutely amazing. Here’s the jist:

About 2 million Americans make there money from working on farms or ranches. About 4 million Americans play the online game World of Warcraft. About 110 million U.S. citizens are considered gamers.

Why is this important? Well, as John points out,

Every time I hear a news report on what "real Americans" think, I wind up watching some farmer in their fifties or sixties bitch as they survey the blasted plains landscape behind them, and not only that, somehow their cultural observations are assumed to have more relevance than any else’s.

John pulls out a lot of other statistics, too, such as there are four times as many Americans drinking coffee in New York city than farming and that about three million people in the U.S. are employed in computer or mathematical jobs, beating the number of farmers by at least a million.

I normally try to avoid talking about politics because, really, I’m not that interested and find it in poor taste, but these new numbers do beg the question, "If the presidential candidates want to talk to real Americans, why don’t they shell out the $40 for a copy of World of Warcraft and create their own little orc or elf characters to do it? They’d be reaching more people than heading out to America’s heartland." And, personally, I’d get a great deal of amusement out of seeing political debates played out by cartoonish characters kicking the tar out of each other.

All in all, though, I thought these numbers were a little bit of a sobering realization about exactly who makes up the constituency of this country, not only in political terms but also in terms of consumers. There are more people playing one single online game (and there are a lot of people playing other online games) out there in the U.S. right now than there are people who work or manage farms. Which one is the flash in the pan?