Sunday, October 13, 2019

Blizzard's Response is Disgraceful

Blizzard responded to the outcry late Friday evening, reducing the suspension to six months. This is a cynical attempt to defuse the community outcry, while desperately trying to stay in the good graces of the Chinese government.

There is one single truth at the heart of this matter: Bliztchung did nothing wrong.

He played fairly. He won the tournament fairly. In an interview after the tournament, where he was only one being interviewed, he expressed support for a political position that was important to him.

There is nothing wrong with this conduct. Indeed, it is even admirable.

There is a long and storied tradition of athletes in our culture espousing political positions, criticizing the government or the state. Blitzchung's actions fit squarely within that tradition.

The issue is not that the punishment was too severe. It's that Bliztchung was punished at all. Punishing admirable conduct is unjust, no matter how you dress it up or point to overly-broad rules.

Blizzard's response is an attempt to mollify the community, while at the same time persuading them that what Blitzchung did was wrong. That criticizing the Chinese state is wrong. Once you agree with that, the degree of punishment is only a detail, one month, six months, a year, a lifetime. The important part is that China and Blizzard have convinced you that criticizing the Chinese state is wrong.

J. Allen Brack and Blizzard are a disgrace to the gaming community and to our society. The Chinese government has ordered them to squelch dissent. Blinded by greed, they have chosen to act as agents of repression. Blizzard has gone past mere trade, and into active collaboration.


  1. Look...I work for a US defense contractor. China's not our friend. At all.

    "In an interview after the tournament, where he was only one being interviewed, he expressed support for a political position that was important to him.

    There is nothing wrong with this conduct. Indeed, it is even admirable."

    What if he had expressed support for Neo-Nazis? Or, hell, what if he had expressed anger at the Hong Kong protestors and supported China?

    What if he was super liberal and expressed positions that offended conservatives? What if he was super conservative and expressed positions that offended liberals?

    Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems the contract he signed basically said "Don't discuss non-game related topics that will offended people" because Blizzard wants to avoid getting involved in anything political. Which seems understandable.

    Now banning the casters mystified me but I haven't watched the actual clip and maybe they didn't steer the conversation back on track or something? But the outrage seems more directed at Blitzchung's banning here.

    1. It would have been pretty terrible if he had expressed support for Neo-Nazis! Thank goodness he didn't! It's almost like not every "political stance" has two sides. One side is for China to uphold its actual legal agreement with Hong Kong and continuing to keep hands off it's citizen's legal and human rights. The other is an extralegal power grab.

      The point of Brack's letter was to pretend this was a "civility" issue and that there are good people on both sides. That was the literal rhetorical aim of his letter.

      Blizzard is happy to promote LGBT+ on these same streams because they are right and the opposition is morally wrong. The only difference between free Hong Kong and LGBT+ Pride is that one makes Blizzard money and the other one doesn't.

    2. I'm fine with what Blizzard did.

      The issue seems to come down to whether you feel "supporting Hong Kong" is "morally right" (whatever that means). I don't feel that it is, so I don't have any desire to boycott Blizzard.

    3. It's difficult to tell from your reply if you support the removal of Hong Kong people's legal rights or if you're just trying to make an edgy 'there is no such thing as morality, man!' argument.

  2. You're wrong. While I agree the initial punishment was to harsh. He did do something wrong. He signed the contract and agreed to it. Their tournament, their rules. Don't like them don't play. What if he said things supporting neo-nazis?

  3. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that Blitzchung of course WANTED Blizzard to punish him. If they had done nothing, then his political statement would have penetrated the consciousness of approximately zero people, rather than becoming the biggest topic of discussion in gaming at the moment.

  4. Blizzard's response doesn't read right to a native English speaker. To me, it sounds more like someone --likely someone from China-- wrote it and got Blizz to attach Brack's name to it after some cursory editing. The part where the word "prizing" is used

    We now believe he should receive his prizing.

    really reads like a non-native speaker wrote it. I have to correct grammar for non-native speakers' documentation at work before I attach an approver's signature to it, so items with incorrect "-ing" or "-tion" on the end really stand out.

    Perhaps that's Brack's mistake, but after the entire brouhaha I'd not be shocked to see the Blizz operation in China dictating the letter.

  5. My problem here is that I don't know enough about how Blizzard has handled similar situations (if there are any) in the past to see how hypocritically obvious this was about money or if this was legitimately a case of someone going by the books and just doing it the completely wrong way. By the backlash I am guessing it was pretty obvious which one it was and the way they've handled it since sort of hints of it as well. I am also amazed that Blizzard did not see this coming. How did they think people would react? Were they seriously betting on everyone just shrugging their shoulders and go "yeah but eh the rules say that…". It's like they haven't read the news in the last decade...