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eSports Interviews

Title: eSports Interviews
URL: https://www.larvacannon.com/
Description: Many have suggested that the decision to come down hard on Blitzchung must have been motivated by a desire to protect Blizzard’s business interests in China. And it does sound unlikely that offending the market almost single-handedly responsible for making the Warcraft movie a success didn’t cross anybody’s minds. But there’s no evidence that this, nor any other Chinese influence, was responsible for the harshness of the penalty. What seems more reasonable is that Blizzard intended it as a deterrent, to warn other players about bringing politics into its games. It’s far from the only company with prohibitions against that. The problem is that in this case the judgement came across as very inconsistent. For comparison: players caught cheating in the Hearthstone Global Games last year were back in competition three months later. Collegiate players holding up a “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz” sign in response to the controversy were initially not punished at all, although they have since received a similar penalty. In the aftermath of its ruling, Blizzard’s notoriously slow communication didn’t do the developer any favors either, nor did the mixed messages coming down its various channels when it finally did respond. But the community reaction to all of this was a little disproportionate as well. Do unto others In the days after, I’ve seen people harass others on social media for playing Blizzard games or attending Blizzcon. This seems like a sadly ironic way of protesting the perceived influence of an authoritarian regime. Misleading or outright false stories to whip up the frenzy quickly popped up, after we’ve been raging about other people’s fake news for nigh three years. Calls were made to use tools intended to improve our democracy, to clog up the company’s systems in retaliation. Last time someone we didn’t like tried that, we called for internet blackouts. Apparently all of this is ok when it’s in defense of freedom of speech. But what if, instead of someone speaking for a cause we sympathize with, they did so against gun control or abortion? What if a Chinese player spoke out in favor of his country? Would we defend him as rabidly? Or is it more about freedom of acceptable speech? And should a corporate entity really be the one deciding which is which?
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