Blizzard suspends Hearthstone Grandmaster for pro-Hong Kong support
October 8, 2019 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Hong Kong Support, Pulls Prize Money. "I think it's my duty to say something about the issue," Hong Kong gamer says.

Blizzard has stripped a Hong Kong professional Hearthstone player of his tournament prize money and banned him from tournament play for a year after he expressed support for Hong Kong during the livestream of a Hearthstone game. Blizzard said that the actions of Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung violated Section 6.1 of the tournament's rules, which prohibits players from doing anything that "offends a portion or group of the public."

After winning his Hearthstone GrandMasters match on Oct. 6, Hong Kong–based Hearthstone pro Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai used his post-game interview to support ongoing protests in the region.

Chung appeared on the Taiwanese broadcast wearing a gas mask after his win against South Korean player Jang “DawN” Hyun Jae. Last week, the Hong Kong government issued a ban on face masks “in an attempt to crack down on the months-long protest movement that’s gotten increasingly tense in recent weeks,” according to Vox. Demonstrators in Hong Kong wear masks to protect themselves from tear gas and to protect their identities — masks in Hong Kong have since become a symbol of the protests.

On Tuesday, Blizzard came down hard on Chung. In an official statement on Hearthstone’s blog, the company announced that it would be suspending Chung for a year, forcing him to forfeit thousands of dollars in prize money from 2019 and firing the casters (commentators) who conducted the interview.

r/hearthstone is also full of people quiting or protesting against the heavy handed actions.

(Enjoy the custom card as well)
posted by Carillon (98 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
They shut down comments too. Is this really a surprise? That any company / league / et. al. capitalist enterprise with a major % of its revenue or potential future revenue tied up in the China market is just doubling down on acting as an agent of the Chinese government to suppress opposition?

For my part I'm never going to another NBA game or buying another Blizzard product. I hope enough people kick back against this in their domestic markets to make them think twice, but I don't think enough Americans really care about another Tiananmen Square and another 30 years of oppression.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:34 AM on October 8 [21 favorites]


Not surprising. Blizzard likes money more than anything else. They also know that in three, four months at the outside, their user base will forget about and wonder what the fuss was about in the first place.
I've never understood why China has such a thin skin. Is it just the general totalitarian mindset or is it something else?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:35 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


I wrote them the following:
"I want you to disable my account due to your decision to suspend Ng Wai Chung for his support of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong. I played Warcraft, Warcraft II, Diablo, Starcraft, Diablo II back in the good old times. I will not play any of your products, and will discourage others from playing them, if you don't reconsider your position. "

So, I hereby encourage you to do the same.
posted by hat_eater at 10:36 AM on October 8 [38 favorites]


And fuck their rules, according to them shouting "Girl power!" would also qualify as a disqualifying offense. There's no shortage of people ready to be offended.
posted by hat_eater at 10:43 AM on October 8 [12 favorites]


BTW, if you're a Diablo fan, Torchlight 1 and 2 were made by the same team that made the first Diablo but are not Blizzard products.
posted by suetanvil at 10:43 AM on October 8 [13 favorites]


Maybe it's just an unfortunate turn of phrase, but do we have to keep repeating how unsurprised we are when someone or some corporation does something shitty? Yes, we're a lot more jaded than we used to be, but we can still weigh in on something without first expressing how inevitable this was, right?
posted by ODiV at 10:43 AM on October 8 [29 favorites]


"I've never understood why China has such a thin skin. Is it just the general totalitarian mindset or is it something else?"

It's about control and absolutely part and parcel of the totalitarian approach. Allowing citizens to criticize government can encourage others to think critically of their government which can lead to unrest or revolution. China doesn't have a thin skin, it's people have endured a great deal of hardships over thousands of years, if anything it might be that the average Chinese citizen has too thick of a skin to tolerate so much that seems entirely intolerable (not that they are often given a choice).

The eager and willing participation in this stuff from so many businesses really lay bare how corporations operate with no ethical concerns whatsoever. They know no nation, they care not for the lives and well being of people. We aren't people to a business, we either are or are not consumers of their products. If someone invented a machine that you could run a person through to convert them into a pile of money, in a few years there would be no people left alive, the world's first quadrillionaire himself would be legally compelled to hop into the machine else he let down the world's last shareholder, himself.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:47 AM on October 8 [39 favorites]


I've never understood why China has such a thin skin.

Totalitarianism yes, but also a Chinese cultural belief that an individual's actions shouldn't cause disruption to stability. This is antithetical to our Western defense of an individual's right to "speak truth to power." At least this is how it was explained to me by a Chinese co-worker. Not an expert, but hearing his POV did make me re-evaluate some of my assumptions about why "others" act in ways that completely surprise me.

I'm not trying to justify Chinese Gov't actions in any way. I think they're completely wrong, but now I understand some of the reasoning behind what appears to be blatantly insane from my American POV.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:47 AM on October 8 [7 favorites]


Purely coincidental, I didn't see this post (because I was busy making my own) on the NBA and the Houston Rockets. The difference there is that the GM and the NBA had to walk back the criticism, deleted tweets were involved. Ugh.

Capitalism was a mistake.
posted by Fizz at 10:54 AM on October 8 [9 favorites]


but we can still weigh in on something without first expressing how inevitable this was, right?
I think in an age where (within the US, at least) the norms/expectations of "at-will employment" have been so normalized & internalized for so long, there's something worthwhile in emphasizing that this isn't some aberration from a better norm but how things currently are top to bottom (and that changes require much deeper fixes than one-off cases)

(obviously this is limited in its applicability since this isn't a US-specific issue, but speaking solely to/for my own observation & banking on a good portion of the reaction being from the US among other areas)
posted by CrystalDave at 10:54 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]




but also a Chinese cultural belief that an individual's actions shouldn't cause disruption to stability

I'm Chinese but I'm also bi-cultural, which is why I contest this theory. Espoused cultural beliefs are not automatically valid; it's the key difference between statements of sociology/anthropology versus what people say about their own cultures. In the case of "traditional" Chinese culture, people in practice appeal to community and harmony as a rationalization for social harms. This is the language that Carrie Lam uses in order to abuse her authority, for example. Or for example look at the worldview differences between young Chinese versus old Chinese, or Hong Kong educated Chinese versus mainland Chinese. So you shouldn't just take at face value Chinese people's monolithic explanations and reductions to "cultural differences" just as we wouldn't allow it for any other oppressive regime. We should be very skeptical of the rationalizations and scientism that people use to justify inequality and abuse.
posted by polymodus at 11:11 AM on October 8 [83 favorites]


The Blizzard subreddit on Reddit has gone private.
posted by WCityMike at 11:16 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Did the moderators do that in protest of Blizzard, or to limit discussion for the sake of damage control?

[Sign Up] [Explode Reddit]
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:26 AM on October 8 [3 favorites]


The behavior of corporations like Blizzard or entities like the NBA isn't surprising. What has shocked and saddened me in discussions of China's increasingly authoritarian actions over the last few years is how many people who I had thought were committed to progressive ideals are weirdly comfortable or even supportive of those actions, including here on MetaFilter.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:29 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


I had resubbed to WoW for Classic, cancelled this morning and let them know why. I'm hoping Blizzard sees the wave of cancellations this morning and realizes they done fucked up, but I'm not too optimistic.
posted by Gaz Errant at 11:35 AM on October 8 [10 favorites]


It's also quite the issue on twitch now as well, a lot of rooms are swamped with discussion and there is pressure on the streamers to say something. I heard that Kibler has this to say for instance:

Kibler will not be discussing the Blitzchung/GM situation on stream today, but he will be making a statement about it later, and he has privately shared concerns with Blizzard already. Please be respectful and do not disrupt the stream.

posted by Carillon at 11:38 AM on October 8


There's also been an issue with Riot. They usually do a interview on their live stream with the winning team of a tournament. The most recent match had the team Hong Kong attitude win. They had an interview, but time delayed on the stream, probably to stop any pesky protests.
posted by zabuni at 11:41 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Riot is different from Blizzard in an important way: they are straight up owned by Tencent. They're not just doing business in China, they're a Chinese subsidiary.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:43 AM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Over on ResetEra (a mostly left-leaning progressive video game community), a question was put up about the willingness of people to put their money where their mouth is and boycott these companies because of their actions. A straw poll was taken and of 1508 people, 1039 said they would boycott.

I really want to believe this because it would be nice for these corporations to see that their decisions have consequences, but I won't hold my breath. I see how craven and hypocritical gamers are. On the one hand they love to complain about the latest Call of Duty 27 and how they hate how the industry treats their consumers and yet they continue to buy shitty products made by evil corporations that treat their employees like garbage (sexual harassment, sexism, racism, bigotry, you name it).

I really wish people would just stand up and say, fuck you, I'm not giving you my god damn money. It's really not hard, but people forget easily and they do the easy thing.
posted by Fizz at 11:57 AM on October 8 [10 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine the American version of this. What if a Hearthstone winner made a statement at the end of a video in support of the Charlottesville Nazi march? Wearing a provocative hat, maybe a white hood. We'd all be demanding Blizzard punish that at once.

But that's a false equivalence. Defending Hong Kong's right to protest is right and good. Defending a murderous Nazi march is wrong. I think you really have to come down to a judgement. And that judgement is, to some extent, culturally relative. I'm OK with that.
posted by Nelson at 11:57 AM on October 8 [8 favorites]


I'm really curious to see how the streamers and professional Hearthstone players respond to this.

I stopped playing Hearthstone myself a month or so ago. And I've seen my fair share of Hearthstone controversies (almost always about aspects of the game itself), with a few people saying they would quit or that they had quit. But the response to this feels different--both in the amount of people saying things like that and the general tone. It really feels like a lot of people see this as Blizzard crossing a moral line, and I'm hoping that shows through clearly in their usage data and profits. Which is the only language they understand.

I'm trying to imagine the American version of this. What if a Hearthstone winner made a statement at the end of a video in support of the Charlottesville Nazi march? Wearing a provocative hat, maybe a white hood. We'd all be demanding Blizzard punish that at once.

Well, even if someone did that, I can't see myself demanding that Blizzard take back the prize money. Disinvite from future events, cut professional ties with, yes. But I'm not sure I can see any situation where I would think it made sense to not pay someone money they had won. Like, I'm in favor of companies firing neo-Nazis. But I'm not in favor of companies not paying neo-Nazis back wages in that situation, you know?
posted by overglow at 12:17 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


This is closer to a Canadian player making a statement in support of Quebec independence.
posted by clawsoon at 12:19 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


This is closer to a Catalan player making a statement in favor of Catalan independence.
posted by hat_eater at 12:23 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Espoused cultural beliefs are not automatically valid; it's the key difference between statements of sociology/anthropology versus what people say about their own cultures....So you shouldn't just take at face value Chinese people's monolithic explanations and reductions to "cultural differences" just as we wouldn't allow it for any other oppressive regime. We should be very skeptical of the rationalizations and scientism that people use to justify inequality and abuse.

Michael Herzfeld’s book Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State is a brilliant exploration of this dynamic.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:30 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


We should be very skeptical of the rationalizations and scientism that people use to justify inequality and abuse.

Thanks for the rebuttal!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:33 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


this is closer to an american player making a statement in favor of democracy.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:38 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


The Blizzard subreddit on Reddit has gone private.

Is it possible China has found an issue to unite the GamerGate gamers and the SJW gamers? Kinda looks like it.
posted by straight at 12:41 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]




> Is it possible China has found an issue to unite the GamerGate gamers and the SJW gamers?

I still don't understand why the subreddit was made private. Is it a protest, or a way of shutting down protest? This is not at all clear to me. Have the moderators made a statement to explain their actions? Are they going to keep the subreddit down for good, or just until people have forgotten about this event?
posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:01 PM on October 8


The Blizzard subreddit on Reddit has gone private.
Makes sense. Although this story isn't world news, as adjudicated by 100 /r/worldnews moderators outvoting 56,000 Reddit users, /r/blizzard isn't going to have as easy a time figuring out how to justify removing it.

It's still all over other relevant subreddits, even when moderators think it's technically in violation or when they're overworked trying to distinguish "truly hateful and vulgar" from mere "passionate" comments.
Is it possible China has found an issue to unite the GamerGate gamers and the SJW gamers?
It's the top story on /r/KotakuInAction and /r/GamerGhazi today. Top two comments on the former are basically "fuck Red China" and "they don’t give a rats ass about right and wrong so long there’s money in it.", whereas on the latter those sentiments' order is reversed with "Blizzard is just a sell out at this point" well above "Fuck China", so I guess there's still room for disunity over whether the communist scum or the capitalist scum are worse scum?
posted by roystgnr at 1:12 PM on October 8 [10 favorites]


I’ve read the subreddit was quite small - far smaller than r/hearthstone, which is still open. It’s possible there are bad actors, but it’s also possible they were getting overwhelmed by new posts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by adrianhon at 1:13 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


That gamergaters on /r/KotakuInAction and /r/GamerGhazi feel like they're in any position to make judgements about another country or a corporation on the way they treat other people, it's just the height of irony.
posted by Fizz at 1:31 PM on October 8


Riot is different from Blizzard in an important way: they are straight up owned by Tencent.

Tencent owns 100% of Riot, and 5% of Blizzard.

...and 40% of Epic, which may or may not be relevant to gamers given the apparent backlash against the Epic Game Store and its exclusives etc.
posted by Foosnark at 1:36 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


I checked on Epic earlier today, and 40% is a huge amount, but it's worth noting that Tim Sweeney owns >50% of shares. He's still got a controlling share, so I think it's more appropriate to say he's partnered with, rather than owned by, Tencent.

The difference between 5% investiture and wholly owned subsidiary is still a big one.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:38 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


...and 40% of Epic, which may or may not be relevant to gamers given the apparent backlash against the Epic Game Store and its exclusives etc.

You make a very good point.

I feel like this view on Epic has so much more to do with exclusivity/timed-release of specific games than politics. Gamers are inherently selfish and they seem to only care about how a game impacts them, when they get a game, how much they pay. The rest is just noise.
posted by Fizz at 1:38 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


When you talk about "gamers" in a way that makes it clear you're referencing a certain shitty subgroup, even though you're disparaging them, it feels like you're participating in their gatekeeping of the hobby.

People who play games are gamers. Unless I missed where we gave up that fight (it's possible I did, it's been a long few years).

Unless you were trying to make a point about humanity that just flew way over my head.
posted by ODiV at 1:48 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


That gamergaters on /r/KotakuInAction and /r/GamerGhazi feel like they're in any position to make judgements about another country or a corporation on the way they treat other people, it's just the height of irony.

r/GamerGhazi isn't a gamergate subreddit, it's an anti-gamergate subreddit and one that is strongly anti-racist, feminist and social justice focused.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 1:50 PM on October 8 [19 favorites]


When you talk about "gamers" in a way that makes it clear you're referencing a certain shitty subgroup, even though you're disparaging them, it feels like you're participating in their gatekeeping of the hobby.

You're right, I should be careful about not doing this. I'm just frustrated that this minority speaks so loudly and drowns out the conversation that we should be having to make games a better place for anyone who wants to play.

r/GamerGhazi isn't a gamergate subreddit, it's an anti-gamergate subreddit

I avoid reddit, I shouldn't have assumed they were both the same thing. I'll step out of the thread. I think I'm just frustrated and annoyed by how this industry has been trending the last 10 years. It's very disaffecting.

Apologies.
posted by Fizz at 2:00 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


I went with the following, in the hope that it will cause them the most annoyance and disruption.

"Please disable and delete my account.

In light of your reprisals against Ng Wai Chung for protesting against the brutal repression of Hong Kong by the Chinese state, I do not wish to use any of your products ever again.

In view of your actions I no longer have confidence in your company to hold my data securely. Accordingly, please provide me with a copy of all personal data you hold in relation to me to which I have a right of access. For the avoidance of doubt, this is a "subject access request" pursuant to my right of access under the EU GDPR. Further to providing this, please erase all personal data that you hold in relation to me to the fullest extent of your obligation to do so. Again for the avoidance of doubt, this request is made pursuant to my GDPR right of erasure."

posted by howfar at 2:44 PM on October 8 [26 favorites]


People who play games are gamers. Unless I missed where we gave up that fight (it's possible I did, it's been a long few years).

People who play games are technically gamers. But most try to avoid that term these days because the "gamer" has become synonymous with very stupid & hateful reactionaries. These days "gamer" is practically an insult. And honestly, no one really fought much to keep the word. GG wanted it. They got it.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:51 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]


so I guess there's still room for disunity over whether the communist scum or the capitalist scum are worse scum?

What's the difference? They're all commu-capitalists.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:08 PM on October 8




r/blizzard is open again and filled with anti-Blizzard posts. Apparently one of the mods set the subreddit to private and then deleted their own account...
posted by adrianhon at 3:31 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


But most try to avoid that term these days because the "gamer" has become synonymous with very stupid & hateful reactionaries

I think this depends on the people. Certainly this is not true among people I know, but then again they skew older and "less online". I think there are a lot of older gamers like that. I don't think Gamergate when I hear the term gamer and have no plans to change my usage of it.
posted by thefoxgod at 3:56 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


Your occasional reminder that Reddit relies on unpaid volunteer moderators. Also frequently companies like Blizzard will have influence over the moderation of subreddits like /r/Blizzard or /r/Hearthstone, with various levels of terrible results.
posted by Nelson at 3:56 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Blizzard's Hong Kong Screw-Up Is Officially an International Incident [Waypoint][Vice Gaming]
“Unsurprisingly, this issue has caused a sharp reaction in Blizzard’s various communities.

The /r/hearthstone subreddit is awash in angry players promising to give up on Activision Blizzard, and both /r/overwatch and /r/wow have threads dedicated to Chung’s suspension. As of this writing, the /r/blizzard subreddit is viewable by invitation only. Reddit confirmed with VICE that /r/blizzard’s mod community was responsible for the change, but declined to comment further. Blizzard’s own community forums are full of angry fans. The top thread on its Hearthstone board stands in solidarity with Blitzchung. It currently has 606 replies and 6.7k views.

“I play [Hearthstone] everyday,” redditor Hinz97 said in a post. “I climbed to Legend several times. I spent more than $10k. As a [Hong Konger], I quit [ Hearthstone] without consideration.” “Quitting [Hearthstone] over this nonsense. This is about more than just Hong Kong,” redditor u/bye_bitches said in a post on /r/hearthstone. “If you're still playing, then you're sending a message: ‘I'm ok with this, multinationals should help China get away with violations of human rights.’ Hong Kong people are involved this time, just hope the next time it won't be you.” “I’ve been playing since beta. Good riddance,” redditor UltimaterializerX said. “Blizzard CLEARLY only cares about the Chinese market. The censorship of art was bad enough. The censorship of human life is indefensible”
posted by Fizz at 4:02 PM on October 8 [15 favorites]


God dammit, Blizzard. Why? Why fucking why why why.

Your stories are a huge part of my life. Hell, I met my wife on Azeroth. Don't make me choose between video games and opposing authoritarianism because you just won't win.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:18 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


It's GamerGhazi after the Benghazi scandal, which was also bullshit made up by right-wingers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:19 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


we can still weigh in on something without first expressing how inevitable this was, right?

Inevitable? Not long ago this would have been inconceivable. Imagine how American society would have reacted to an American company censoring pro-democracy sentiments to please the Soviet Union.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:44 PM on October 8 [28 favorites]


Imagine the Soviet Union having enough money to tempt a corporation to do that.
posted by straight at 4:53 PM on October 8 [11 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: Imagine how American society would have reacted to an American company censoring pro-democracy sentiments to please the Soviet Union.

Just another reminder that American foreign policy has always been strongly pro-capitalist and ambivalent about democracy. You don't support Mobutu and General Park while opposing Allende and Mosaddegh (and you can add many names to both of those lists) unless capitalism is much, much more important to you than democracy.
posted by clawsoon at 5:22 PM on October 8 [14 favorites]


It's still all over other relevant subreddits, even when moderators think it's technically in violation or when they're overworked trying to distinguish "truly hateful and vulgar" from mere "passionate" comments.

Ugh, I didn't think "no politics" actually meant "no politics"! I just thought it meant "no calling people out on their sexism"!

/s
posted by J.K. Seazer at 5:36 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


For the avoidance of doubt, this is a "subject access request" pursuant to my right of access under the EU GDPR.

Can everyone do this, or just people with EU IPs?
posted by corb at 5:37 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


If you think that laws like GDPR are a good way to force companies to respect and protect people's personal data, you probably should not use them as a tool for the unrelated purpose of wasting the time of companies you don't like, because if the laws are typically used that way they probably will be amended to be less powerful for their protective purpose.
posted by value of information at 6:11 PM on October 8 [8 favorites]


Yeah, and unless the company is full of engineering morons who have been asleep the last few years, no human ever gets near a GDPR request. The entire thing gets received, executed, and responded to, with minuscule effort compared to whatever you did to send them the request in the first place.
posted by sideshow at 6:50 PM on October 8


You don't support Mobutu and General Park while opposing overthrowing Allende and Mosaddegh ... unless capitalism is much, much more important to you than democracy.

FTFY
posted by joedan at 7:35 PM on October 8 [3 favorites]


Cancelled my pre-order for Warcraft 3: Reforged, which I'm pretty sad about. I've easily played 4 digits of hours of WC3 in multiplayer and custom maps, and I was seriously looking to revisit that.

But fuck Blizzard; I'm done. This shit's unconscionable.
posted by Imperfect at 9:12 PM on October 8 [7 favorites]


Ugh, I didn't think "no politics" actually meant "no politics"! I just thought it meant "no calling people out on their sexism"!

Politics is when there's a minority in my video game
posted by Chaffinch at 1:06 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Only just levelled to 28 in Classic WoW. Cashed a WoW token only yesterday. Been tearing up Hearthstone Arena recently, with a 9 and a couple of 8s. Now I'm offline on both games until such time as Blizzard reverse their behaviour.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 3:36 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


[A couple deleted; let's stick closer to the post topic rather than derail into GDPR stuff.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:49 AM on October 9


Thing is, China don't give a shit. Either you bend the knee or you go home. Bigger players than Activision have been shut down cold.

So for Blizz it's a just simple math equation -- will they lose more money in boycotts or being denied access to China. The only access you and I have to help them solve that equation is that boycott.

(And when/if they do go home, China will simply invent a better Blizzard for their own market, which they have done time and time again. It's going to be a bizarre century, that's for sure.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:33 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


So for Blizz it's a just simple math equation -- will they lose more money in boycotts or being denied access to China. The only access you and I have to help them solve that equation is that boycott.

In light of Hong Kong and such, I've been running this question and general problem set through the rusty old game theory and simulation mill in my head with lately and it keeps coming to some alarming if somewhat obvious conclusions.

It has been said for some time that the "the future is Chinese" just by sheer population, numbers and economic power, and that future is, effectively, the present.

That also must logically include capitalism and corporatism. And to be honest I probably haven't thought about this part enough or deeply considered the consequences.

Which means there's some real easy basic math involved - your simple math equation, yes - where the sheer market size, numbers and increasing amount of individual disposable income of China means that boycotts from just the US or EU become less and less effective or financially motivating.

This is before I consider investor and voting board member status. TenCent and companies like it are investing heavily in US/EU tech companies. These companies are essentially effectively, in the end, apparatus or otherwise beholden to the CCP.

*record scratch*

Wait, hold up. We have remarkably censorial companies like TenCent - the infamously CCP-bootlicking social media/credit/banking app company that can automatically remove fines for jaywalking from your bank account via pervasive public surveillance and facial recognition and post your pic to a live video wall of shame company, that company? - investing in US and EU tech, gaming and media companies? That TenCent?

Investing in "our" often outright craven and morally bankrupt, regulation-averse, technocratic, globalist and neo-liberal companies? Those companies?

Oh? Oh, fuck.
posted by loquacious at 5:42 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]


so I guess there's still room for disunity over whether the communist scum or the capitalist scum are worse scum?

In the words of Deng Xiaoping, “it doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice”.
posted by acb at 7:04 AM on October 9


The CCP hasn't been a communist party since the 2000s at the latest. They're a nationalist party.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 7:10 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


[One deleted; sorry, "kowtow" is one of those terms where people have mentioned it's often used in a problematic way -- even more so in a post about China -- so, better to pick a different way to express that idea.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:16 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Who could have predicted that when the Communists took over America, they'd do so by buying it out?

(One thing I've noticed is that this pandering to the CCP is accompanied by a surge of McCarthyite red-baiting elsewhere; cancelling all Venezuelan Adobe licences, and labelling everything from gender diversity to climate-change protests “Marxism”. I wonder whether there's some sort of compensation/displacement dynamic happening here.)
posted by acb at 7:38 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


If even a bleeding-heart gamer site like Rock Paper Shotgun is willing to publish a puff piece about Hearthstone the day after this news hits, I think Blizzard is pretty secure in assuming they can lick China's boots with impunity.
posted by straight at 8:55 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]


The editor-in-chief of RPS shows up in the comments of that piece to do some epic bending over backwards whataboutism that amounts to, "publishing press releases is our business model and whatabout Microsoft doing bad things should we not cover them??".

Which is to say fuck RPS, add them to the blacklist.
posted by tocts at 9:05 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


RPS pulled the exact same shit during the Prime strikes. They want to have it both ways.
posted by Evstar at 9:09 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


It's also quite the issue on twitch now as well, a lot of rooms are swamped with discussion and there is pressure on the streamers to say something. I heard that Kibler has this to say for instance:

Kibler's statement:

That kind of appeasement is simply not something I can in good conscience be associated with. When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. Unless something changes, I will have no involvement in Grandmasters moving forward.

However, I want to make clear that not everyone involved in GM has this luxury. Do not take your anger out on the other casters, or streamers, or employees of Blizzard. This is not the kind of decision that comes from the rank and file. Most likely they’re just as angry as you are. I know I am.

posted by zabuni at 9:24 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I haven't been active in either WoW or Hearthstone for a while now but I did recently spend some $ on D3 and now I regret it. Submitted a request to fully delete the account this morning. It's largely an empty gesture but hopefully it will contribute to the overall message in aggregate.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:49 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Man Kibler with the thoughtful message. I know he'll be fine regardless, but glad he continues to be someone I'm happy to follow.
posted by Carillon at 10:11 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Someone redid the Overwatch Mei cinematic to support HK.

Honestly, it works pretty well.
posted by rewil at 10:26 AM on October 9


The CCP hasn't been a communist party since the 2000s at the latest. They're a nationalist party.

So, CCCP minus the Communism.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:36 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


American University Hearthstone team holds up "Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizzard" sign during Collegiate Hearthstone Championship. Blizzard quickly cuts their broadcast.

Apparently, there will be no more live team cameras or interviews for the rest of the collegiate broadcasts. And Blizzcon is only weeks away.
posted by zabuni at 12:28 PM on October 9 [5 favorites]








This is all over my Discord channels too. Everyone is pissed at Blizzard.

Blizzard China's statement on weibo in support of China. The top comments have more examples of other companies giving in, and a few that didn't. I was impressed that Ubisoft and Red Bull pushed back.

Epic's Tim Sweeney has came out in support of free speech in his games
posted by numaner at 4:46 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


Someone in Reddit suggested the most appropriate way to protest Blizzard's move would be to use Overwatch characters in pro-Hong Kong propaganda, hoping China will ban Overwatch like it did Winnie the Pooh.
posted by straight at 5:01 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]




Some astute readers suggested that Kibler was wrong for thinking that Blizzard did not penalize Blitzchung for political views. Kibler's position is that he accepts the rules as they are. But the rules are borked in the first place, because they were intentionally designed to be vague, and then Blizzard overstretched the commonly understood purpose of the rules which is to deal with spammers and harassment. The better mental model is that sometimes, the rules are inappropriate and invalid. E.g., this was not a case of politics as usual; human rights is not a matter of mere political debate, and for Blizzard's decision to frame as such is simply unethical in consequence.
posted by polymodus at 9:46 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Blizzard's rules say they can dismiss you for any reason whatsoever if you ever do anything they don't like.

"Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image"


The rules themselves say they are totally arbitrary.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:59 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I had resubbed to WoW for Classic, cancelled this morning and let them know why.

For anyone who wants to try an alternative to WoW, the free version of Guild Wars 2 lets you play an enormous amount of the game with very few restrictions. The world is a delightful place for exploring, with lots of hidden routes and secrets to discover and beauty that is based on great art design rather than just graphics technology. I played two character classes to the level cap, covering different parts of the world, and only saw about 70% of the area available to free players.

BTW, if you're a Diablo fan, Torchlight 1 and 2 were made by the same team that made the first Diablo but are not Blizzard products.

And Path of Exile is another great Diablo-like that is totally free except for cosmetic items.
posted by straight at 1:27 PM on October 10


Warning: Grinding Gear Games, the maker of PoE, is also 80% owned by Tencent.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 2:47 PM on October 10


Riot Games, the company with the major sexism problem, just posted their statement on such controversies. It's some mealy mouth collaborationist shit about "do not escalate potentially sensitive situations".
posted by Nelson at 4:30 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


> do not escalate potentially sensitive situations

That's the party line, from the Chinese Party, which Riot is essentially a representative of.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:50 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Blizzard's got a new statement which is some complete garbage. They have the audacity to say
The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.
If you're gonna do the bidding of Chinese propaganda, at least own up to it.
posted by Nelson at 6:00 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]


The issue is that companies like Blizzard want to pretend that they can avoid taking a political stance. But being "non-political" in the face of atrocity and oppression is in and of itself a political act.
posted by Justinian at 9:11 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


There's an interesting thread here, where a bilingual person points out that there are lot of odd things about the phrasing of the statement that suggest that part or all of it was written by a native Chinese speaker, not by Blizzard US.
posted by tavella at 10:32 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


I'm nonnative and the writing feels uneloquent and strange, but then maybe I'm biased by knowing about the tweet. The structure and grammar is ungainly to English ears.

They should give samples to an unbiased professional writer or instructor who doesn't know about Blizzard, and see their reaction.
posted by polymodus at 12:58 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Also it very clearly does have to do with the content, why else wouldn't the college kids who put up the written message get a ban? It's nonsensical. I saw a comment that essentially said, "I didn't think it was possible for a message from blizzard finally coming out to make the situation worse, so kudos to them for that"
posted by Carillon at 9:25 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Blitzchung's statement. It's very mild and gentle and does not directly criticize Blizzard in any way. There's also an annotated Q&A stream he did.
posted by Nelson at 12:35 PM on October 12




True, but unlike Blizzard's games you can enjoy Path of Exile and Guild Wars 2 without giving GGG or ArenaNet a single penny. But I can definitely understand not wanting to have anything to do with their games at all if you don't like the behavior of the companies that make them.
posted by straight at 10:38 PM on October 12


Anecdotally, I've checked the launcher a few times and I've been averaging 0-2 friends online down from 5-6 so it's had an impact they I've seen.
posted by Carillon at 4:16 PM on October 13


Blizzard has reduced Blitzchung's ban from 12 months to 6, restored his prize money and reduced the casters' ban from life to 6 months, and also issued a statement which didn't appear to contain the word 'sorry' or anything related.

Or: having been caught beating their servants, Blizzard seems to think that if they announce they're only going to beat their servants on alternate days from now on, and with the birch instead of the cat, then that makes it all right and we should all love them and praise them for the good thing they are doing.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 4:15 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


« Older 'There will be chaos once again'   |   “sports owners and global autocrats aren’t such... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.