It was a chilly October day in a two-bedroom apartment in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
George Ericson was getting ready for Delta Phi Sigma’s annual 24-hour gaming session, in which members stay in, play games, and binge drink throughout the night. It’s a tradition that had gone on for five years, and Ericson wasn’t about to let 2010, a year that saw a disappointing rush season for his fraternity, prevent them from enjoying the occasion.
“The frat is made up of a bunch of gamers, so we tend to skip the University’s freezing football games for a case of Corona and non-stop sessions of The Saboteur, the one on Xbox 360,” Ericson told me on a Skype call from his studio apartment in Oklahoma City. “But Ace? He was never down. He’d play some Wii Sports Resort for a bit before going to see the Tigers, but he never stuck around for Left for Dead. I mean, Wii Sports isn’t much of a game.”
That Ace is, of course, Ace Watkins— the self-styled gamer presidential candidate who’s currently running in the 2020 election to be the new leader of the free world. He’s also the only presidential candidate who hasn’t released a copy of his Steam Library to the public at the time of this writing, even after calling out other candidates for the same issue on Twitter. In conjunction with testimony from his former roommate, the missing Steam Library points to a disturbing possibility — that Watkins is a not a gamer at all.
Why won't any other candidate for President release their Steam library? What are they hiding?
— Ace Watkins (@GamerPres2020) July 24, 2019
Secrets and Revelations
Since launching his campaign in July of this year, Watkins amassed a large following on Twitter and other social media platforms with his direct response to “gamer issues” at events like New York Comic-Con. It’s fair to say that Watkins is polling close to Andrew Yang and far above other candidates like John Delaney.
He has promised to run America “like a video game” after Donald Trump’s 2016 promise to run the government like a for-profit business. He’s also promised to cancel all Tom Nook debt, to pass a universal teabag-for-all plan based on merit, and to shrink the gap between PlayStation Plus users and those that only play offline. All bold plans for a first-term president who hasn’t held office at any other level of government.
While Watkins’ promises come in a variety of special editions, his credentials are far more limited — and secretive. We know a lot about Cory Booker’s habit of sneaking FIFA Mobile matches during Senate sessions and Pete Buttigieg’s stint snorting hay while killing theme park attendees with death traps in Rollercoaster Tycoon at Saint Joseph High School, but we don’t know much about Watkins. The presidential gamer hopeful has run a tight-lipped campaign, but old friends have shed some light on his origins.
“I think he was studying construction or something like that,” said Ericson, who shared an apartment with Watkins during their time at Tulsa Community College. Ericson and Watkins attended their local community college and not the Division I university only three miles away. Even still, the qualifications for getting into Delta Phi Sigma were steep — and according to Ericson, Watkins wasn’t much of a gamer at all. “I don’t think he even knew that the Nintendo DS was the perfect platform for Ōkamiden,” he said about the paint-fueled sequel to Okami. “The stylus was, like, so good for the painting mechanic.”
The Missing Steam Library
Watkins and Trump have one major thing in common: they haven’t shared their Steam Library, even in the face of multiple high-profile requests.
A Steam Library is a vital piece of the presidential puzzle. It lets voters get a full picture of their candidate’s playtime and game history. The level of transparency it provides is a vital part of the election and governing process. That’s why every president between 1980 and 2012 released a segment of their library, both physical and digital. Bill Clinton’s extensive playtime with Conker’s Bad Fur Day was a key element in his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
“A Steam Library and a general complete list of your play history on all gaming platforms are key in the vetting process of an election. This is our democracy we’re talking about. We need to be sure we’re picking the best people to lead the country into the future,” said Herbert Pill, who leads Defense of Transparency in America or DOTA, a bipartisan organization committed to solving issues like microtransactions and Joy-con drifting. “If Ace Watkins doesn’t want to uphold the issue of transparency in the United States by releasing his library, then voters should show their disapproval at the polls next year.”
After an extensive investigation carried out by Fanbyte, we’ve been able to piece together an image of Ace Watkins’ profile with segments from his Xbox Live gamer tag, Nintendo Wii play history, and his Steam library. No one from Ace Watkins’ team has responded to a request for comment at the time of this writing.
“I liked Ace, and a lot of the other guys did too, but he was never really on par with the rest of us,” Ericson said. “It’s kind of weird to see what he’s doing now. “He didn’t even know what a mid laner was in League of Legends and now he says he’s going to nerf Jeff Bezos. I don’t buy it.”
Despite Delta Phi Sigma not being a part of Tulsa’s vibrant Greek community, the threshold to join the gaming frat was nothing to scoff at. Members were required to beat Super Mario 64 in under three hours (the world record for the fastest time is a little under 2 hours), explain the plot and motivations of every character in Kingdom Hearts, and beat Super Meat Boy without dying — twice. These challenges aren’t something that gamers take lightly.
“Ace never really cared about any of that, he got in because he knew me,” Ericson said. “He didn’t even finish most of the stuff he played,. I don’t think he has a single platinum trophy. I mean whenever I saw him on his computer he was playing Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. I think he had like 200 hours in that game. It was pretty weird.”
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball is a departure from the Dead or Alive fighting series. It gained popularity due to the focus on scantily clad anime women, and was playable with a single hand. “I get it, it’s not a mystery,” Ericson said. “But the amount he was playing definitely should have set off a few alarms.”
According to our investigations, Watkins played four multiplayer matches of Gears of War before never touching Marcus Phoenix again, played through half of Portal 2‘s multiplayer mode alone while controlling both characters, and only caught 28 Pokemon throughout his entire career as a gamer. Ericson also told us that Watkins is no stranger to rage quitting in a plethora of online games. All of this paints a very different picture than Watkins’s description of himself as an “elite gamer.”
It appears there is a lot more to Ace Watkins than the presidential hopeful is letting on. His gaming credentials are nowhere near the level he claims while tweeting. For gamers like Ericson, that means electing someone like Watkins is as risky as going for a legendary skin in an Overwatch loot box while no special event is active.
“It’s just not right,” Ericson said. “Ace is a different person to the guy I knew in college. I don’t think I trust him now.”