The Gamergate controversy was a major political scandal involving a secretive plot by U.S. President Richard Nixon to steal DNC Chairman Larry O'Brien's Magnavox Odyssey, a video game console. The attempted burglary of the Magnavox, which was stored in O'Brien's locker inside the Gamergate Office Complex, and the subsequent cover-up of the crime by the Nixon administration led to the Republican president's resignation. In a teary-eyed televised address to the nation, Nixon finally admitted his guilt, stating: "I just really wanted an Odyssey."
The widespread coverage of this scandal has since led to everyone appending the suffix -gate to every controversial situation ever, even if it has no relevancy to the Gamergate scandal or doesn't roll off the tongue like Gamergate does. Hmm... Gamergate.
Released in 1972, the Magnavox Odyssey was the first commercially available video game console on the market. It had an introductory price of ninety-nine ($99) dollars, or more than $500 in today's money. Because of high demand for the console, it was notoriously hard to find in even the most well-stocked electronics stores. The rarity of the Odyssey explains one part of Richard Nixon's motivations, and why an otherwise stalwart president would resort to petty theft and burglary to acquire something so trivial.
FBI records, covered-up by the CIA on Nixon's behest, revealed that Nixon made no less than forty-six visits to all the RadioShacks within a fifty-mile radius of the White House, and at least twenty-nine visits to the local Circuit City in Langley, Virginia. The Odyssey was out-of-stock in all the stores he visited. DC residents recall Nixon, with a cadre of buff Secret Service agents, going from door to door, declaring any Odysseys they owned as eminent domain of the United States government and subject to immediate seizure on penalty of death. Sadly, no one in the city owned an Odyssey. Due to a shipping error by Magnavox parent company Phillips, only ten of the consoles were sold on the east coast in 1972.
The only person within five-hundred (500) miles of the White House who owned an Odyssey was DNC Chairman Larry O'Brien. According to an interview with the Washington Post, Larry O'Brien bought the console as a Christmas gift for his seven year-old son. He later regretted his purchase, but since the console was rare and expensive he elected to keep it stored away in his office locker (on the sixth floor of the Gamergate Hotel & Office Building).
Nixon first learned of O'Brien's Odyssey during a BBS chat session with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. An abridged version of the chat log is presented here for posterity:
|<xxPOTUS_nixon13xx>||I saw all the ads for [the Magnavox Odyssey] on TV. Donald [Nixon, brother of Richard Nixon] already has one and he says it's the best console on the market! I really want one, I'm turning sixty, and I'm planning to get it as a birthday present.|
|<Kriegsverbrecher_Henry>||Stop talking about that goddamn children's toy, Dick. Video games aren't meant for respectable and decent Republican presidents such as yourself, so stop pestering me about it. Only manchildren and democrats play with videogames, wait, I repeated myself there! L to the O to the L! Liberals are scum.|
|<xxPOTUS_nixon13xx>||I'm being serious here, Kissy. This is the beginning of a new chapter in electronic entertainment, and I want to be on the ground floor when these gaming videos become popular. I don't want the fucking japs taking over that's for sure. That's why I want one.|
|<Kriegsverbrecher_Henry>||You know Larry [O'Brien, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee] has one in his office, you really want any toy that that pinko asshat would buy? Please be reasonable, Dick, we don't have enough money in the budget to buy you your Magnavox Odyssey, those rat-faced chinks still need a good dose of Agent Orange.|
|<xxPOTUS_nixon13xx>||Wait, you're telling me Larry [O'Brien, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and future commissioner of the National Basketball Association] has a Magnavox and I don't? I'm the leader of the free world, and I am entitled to my Magnavox Odyssey, you hear?|
The White House Plumbers were a clandestine group of Nintendo enthusiasts who worked for Nixon as his private black-ops unit. They were involved with the failed attempt to stop the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, which would later inspire the story of Nintendo's 2007 game, Super Paper Mario. The Plumbers were hired by the president to steal O'Brien's Odyssey discretely. The Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had ordered an Odyssey online the week before and was expecting it within two to four months, but Nixon elected not to steal from a fellow Republican.
In their first burglary, the Plumbers set up wiretaps and hidden cameras that captured footage of O'Brien walking to and from his office, Magnavox in tow. They learned that everyday, during his lunch break, he would take the console to the break room, plug it in the wall television set and play a few rounds of Pong before retiring to his office. They also learned that he took frequent restroom breaks, leaving the valued console vulnerable to theft. The Plumbers' plan was simple: sneak into the break room unnoticed, wait in hiding for O'Brien to play with his Odyssey and snatch it from him while he's on the john.
The Plumbers hid in the bushes outside the office complex for two weeks before walking inside. O'Brien was sick that day and couldn't come to work. Instead of waiting another day, the plumbers improvised, forcing their way into the locker room where the Odyssey was stored. They managed to bust O'Brien's locker open with a blowtorch, but were apprehended almost immediately afterwards during their escape attempt. Security guards were able to quickly spot the escaping burglars, on account of their highly conspicuous red sweater/denim jumper getup.
By now you've heard the accusations levied at me by the less-than-scrupulous liberal media. These are all damnable lies. Yes, I've been involved with [E. Howard] Hunt, but that's none of your goddamn business! Can't a sitting president collude with a few CIA agents without you bigots conjuring conspiracy theories out of nothing?
—Richard Nixon, blog post
Most people who knew better suspected Nixon's involement right away when news of the botched burglary hit the papers. He often sneaked the words, "I want a Magnavox Odyssey" into his speeches, regardless of context or relevance. Most of his 1972 State of the Union address was dedicated to praising the Odyssey's superior hardware capabilities compared to other consoles. Nixon's Communications Director, Herb Klein, spent two hours everyday erasing references to the console scribbled into speech drafts and important documents by the president. Nixon's obsessive, bordering on technophilic, interest in the console was already an open secret inside the beltway.
At first, Nixon categorically denied any involvement in the Gamergate break-in, saying that it was a "third-rate burglary," and "I could've done better than that while I was in Congress." He deflected questions from the White House Press Corps by accusing them of being Un-American communists who were jealous of his freedoms.
Journalist's suspicions were confirmed when the identities of the five plumbers were leaked to the press. E. Howard Hunt, a CIA officer and unhinged videogaming enthusiast, was among the plumbers arrested. A police search of his home revealed thousands of pages of hastily shredded documents, some of them scribbled over with markers and colored pencils. Hunt was a known associate of Nixon, and a prominent blogger within his social circle of other bloggers. His hatred of women and women and gaming was matched only by his love of stealing things for the President of the United States. The documents found in his home were incontrovertible proof that Nixon ordered the theft of O'Brien's gaming console.
The U.S. Senate quickly convened a special committee to investigate the president's ties to the Gamergate scandal. Millions of Americans watched the Senate Hearings broadcast on national TV, in a half-assed attempt to seem knowledgeable and politically engaged to their equally specious friends. The hearings revealed more evidence of the President's immoral shenanigans: John Dean, who was more or less the brains of Nixon's conspiracy, testified in the hearings in exchange for immunity after the President tried to scapegoat him. Nixon supposedly screamed "It was Dean's fault!" into the Lincoln Reflecting Pool.
Members of the Senate Gamergate Committee were concerned that the president had acted unethically in his ruthless pursuit of the gaming console. Nixon responded that no one cares about ethics in politics, since no other politician had ever bothered to be ethical before, and that whining about ethics was just an elaborate cover to spread lies and other general nonsense. Senate members conceded his point, although by now Nixon's smarminess had gotten under their skin. The House Judiciary Committee quickly voted for impeachment. By August 1974, it was all but certain that Nixon would be impeached by the House and removed from office through a trial by Senate.
Spiro Agnew resigned October of the previous year after receipts discovered by the FBI revealed that the Vice President hadn't paid the sales tax on his own Magnavox Odyssey. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford became Vice President. The President knew that Ford was actually a runaway Old Navy mannequin, a secret that Nixon used against Ford to force a pardon out of him.
With his approval ratings in the doldrums and his political support in congress gone, Nixon had little choice but to resign. In his resignation speech, Nixon avoided any language which could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Instead, he burst into tears and begged the American people to give him a second chance. By now Nixon had bought at least three Magnavox Odysseys, rendering his previous attempts to orchestrate the theft completely moot. He was a broken and beaten man, his legacy permanently tarnished by petty thieving and scheming, and the Odyssey had only three games.
Nixon left the White House on Marine One and retired to the Casa Pacifica to drown his sorrows with champagne and Pong. A few years later he re-entered public life, ready to put his shameful console-stealing behavior behind him, but the Gamergate scandal would continue to haunt Nixon during his later years. He traveled the globe, meeting with third world leaders and poor brown people to appear wise and statesmanlike. When Nixon wasn't out repairing his tarnished reputation through public lectures, TV interviews and other debasing acts, he played videogames alone in his room. He had a private arcade set up in his residence, and was (unbeknownst to the public) the 1983 Joust World Champion. Nixon eagerly awaited the release of Mother 2 for the Nintendo Famicom, but he died on April 22, 1994, four months before its release.
- The Gamergate building was named after the infamous political scandal, which would later lend the building its name.
- "They're a buncha angry commies taking out their virgin rage on a humble public servant! For shame #Gamergate #NotYourMissileShield" – Nixon's Press Secretary
- At least he died before he could buy an Ouya.