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The Monsters Get Their Due in Maplewood

Smear Campaign Fizzles

Published: 10/18/2007 12:00am
John Nephew

Forty seven years ago in a famous episode of The Twilight Zone, 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,' hysteria gripped a picturesque small town neighborhood in a story that was an allegory for the communist witch hunts and scapegoat-hunting prejudices of the era.  In 2007 a lame attempt to demonize a city council candidate in Maplewood, Minnesota who happens to be the founder of game company appears to have laid an egg with the electorate.  Evidence of 'progress' in the social sense is always tricky to evaluate in a society that often appears to be in a desperate hurry to return to the excesses of the Gilded Age, but sometimes, as in this case in a suburb of St. Paul, it appears that attitudes can change.

 

At the center of this case is Atlas Games founder and President John Nephew, who is running for City Council in Maplewood, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, and who has been the victim of an unsuccessful smear campaign based on calculated misrepresentations of just a couple of the more than 200 games he publishes.  Nephew's opponents, whose reign in the suburban city has been marked by expensive lawsuits and other problems and whose campaigns have been riddled with scandals resulting from biographical and endorsement misrepresentations, have attacked him over Atlas Games' publication of two satirical games for adults, Let's Kill, a tongue-in-cheek murder game, and Corruption, a send-up of graft and bribery.  Nephew, who also publishes the award-winning family card game, Once Upon a Time, told ICv2 that his opponents' attacks smacked of 'desperation' and that in contacting prospective voters prior to the November 6th election he had found that so far their smear campaign had failed to gain any traction.

 

'Twenty years ago it could have been different,' Nephew told ICv2, 'but now if somebody tells a reporter to look into this, I will sit down with them and I find that the fact is that newsrooms are filled with people who are gamers or know gamers -- some of them even own games that we publish.  The way this has played out, has really demonstrated to me how mainstream games are now -- how different it is from 1981.  In this case the attacks are a desperate move from people who didn't have anything else to hang on to.  They started the attacks before the primary, which was on September 11th, and I got something on the order of 62% of the votes in the primary -- and from the phone banking and voter ID work we've been doing recently we're not seeing any changes.

 

Nephew, who told ICv2 that he has support across the political spectrum ranging from a local member of the Republican National Committee to liberal democrats, feels that all the media exposure 'has been a net positive, it's great publicity, I've been in business 17 years and I've never gotten my picture on the front page of the local section of the Pioneer Press with an article talking about my business.  I haven't talked to any local retailers to see if they're selling a lot more Gloom for Halloween or Let's Kill, but it's a great season to push those particular games.'

 
 
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