“SJWS! Oh god, there’s SJWs everywhere!”

I want to start off this article with a tweet from someone I follow regarding gamers and their reaction about Obsidian’s new release, Outer Worlds.

And Casey pretty much nails it in that tweet, in that these gamers are looking for such a purity in their gaming that anything, ANYTHING, can be considered SJW.

It’s lead me to thinking about the past and other examples we’ve seen in our society with regards to a moral outcry and fear over the encroachment of elements seen as detrimental to our way of life. The most obvious examples are as Casey pointed out, the Christians that look for any sign they can interpret as teaching kids to embrace Satanism, but I’m also thinking of the great Red Scare of the 50s in America.

This was called McCarthyism and it lead to the creation of the House of Unamerican Activities Committee which would put people on trial to determine what their intentions truly were if any hint of communist-like activity was in their history.

What I find is the common link between the nigh-totalitarian response of the 1950s government against communism (which included a bill from Joe McCarthy that curbed civil liberties) and gamers who cry out against SJWs infesting their precious hobby is the fear over the loss of control.

And how that fear has manifested itself in hate groups forming and harassment campaigns waged against any and all targets they see as trying to take away their games.

It’s sad, in a way, to see because nothing will ever be good enough for such gamers ever again, outside of them personally seeing to the development of first person shooters, the only game that they appear to play. If there’s a hint of any woman with hair coloured in any other way that’s not natural to their body, any person with skin darker than a white person may achieve in the sun of summer, or the softest whisper of politics in the games’ story, they’ll scream and rage and boycott and harass those who do enjoy the games.

And it’s an attitude held by many such entitled fanboys (and some fangirls*) over a wide swath of fandoms, Look at the rage from Star Wars fanboys over the narrative being more focused on people of colour and a white woman, the creation of the Sad and Angry Puppies who tried to sabotage the Hugo Awards one year, and… well, at this point it’s only easy to google any news of them complaining, mashing their teeth, and believing any number of wild theories over Captain Marvel’s box office success.

My favourite from that last one, as it’s ludicrously absurd, is how Disney bought up ticket sales in order to boost sales figures, and it’s one that continues to find traction among the misogynistic/sexist hate mongers. After all, they’ve got to keep those patreon contributions coming!

Of course, I have concerns because to be a white woman, a person of colour, LGBTQ and in fandom is to be under attack for taking up space in a place that’s been deemed as belonging only to straight, white, cis dudes, and any news of any kind of diversity is almost always followed up by attacks. Remember the ‘fallout’ of Ghostbusters for daring to have a cast of all women?

On the other hand, it’s a sad, sad way to live, to constantly be fighting for and chasing a dream of a time of when there weren’t any politics in games. It’s as big a lie as the one any MAGA hat wearing bigot believes because, like the lie of there being a time that America was great, there being no politics in games is one that’s cemented in white entitlement.

Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Or, to take a rallying cry from second wave feminism and the student protests of the 60s, the personal is political.

Politics, and I don’t just mean what party we vote for, informs our way of life, how we think and feel, and the content of the entertainment we enjoy. To suggest otherwise is to live within that insulating bubble of white male privilege, an echo chamber that gamers often accuse those who are critical of entertainment of living within.

And I’d rather not go through life with such paint encrusted glasses on.

*Honestly, just look at how enraged white fangirls become when a character who was white is cast with a black female actress and is in love with a white dude, or any relationship between a white man and black woman on screen. Black female fans of Nu Who, Nu Trek, the Flash, Sleepy Hollow have talked about the scorn they’ve faced and the hate and anger heaped upon the characters for DARING to be loved by a white man. That’s white entitlement as well.

“Why yes, money IS more important than people.”

 

Wow, what a week it’s been, huh?

For those not in the know, Blizzard Entertainment banned Hearthstone player Blitzchung and two casters over the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong.”

Here’s the video in question if you wish to watch it:

To be honest, after much of what I’ve been reading about Activision-Blizzard, from the devil horn headed CEO Bobby Kotick to the company earlier this year laying off nearly a thousand people in order to prop up the profit of shareholders, Blizzard banning a game player for making a political statement is of no surprise to me. After all, Activision-Blizzard has shown its number one priority is the money it makes.

However, what truly concerns me was this phrase I saw in the ruling of the Hearthstone Grandmaster, which you can read on Blizzard’s own website:

2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4   p.12, Section 6.1 (o)

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 will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms. 

‘Or otherwise damages Blizzard’s image’ is such a vaguely worded phrase because of how easily it can be used to view anything negative about Blizzard as damaging. In this case, as Activision-Blizzard has 5% of its shareholders owned by a Chinese company called Tencent (who has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies from what I’ve heard), Blitzchung’s comments were easily seen as damaging to Blizzard’s image. After all, you don’t want to anger your investors who are bringing you in a lot of money via streaming overseas.

Now, Activision-Blizzard will want you to believe it’s ruling had nothing to do with China or Tencent’s investment in them, but don’t kid yourself. It was, and is, even if Activision-Blizzard has refunded Blitzchung’s prize money and reduced the ban on both him and the casters. More and more, entertainment companies are seeing China for the money making machine that it is, and they desperately want a slice of that pie.

And if human rights happen to be trampled and are being trampled by the Chinese Government? Well, you can just sweep all that aside. Bobby Kotick needs a new yacht, and you don’t want to be selfish and deny a man whose net worth is a measely 7 billion dollars, do you?

 

Bobby Kotick

I heard once he finds it difficult to get dates on account of all the devil horn drawing. Allow me to immaturely continue that tradition.

Now, on a live stream of a game, they’ve banned someone for saying a political statement that could damage their image, I have to ask who else could they ban, block, or come down hard on. Say, you’re just a regular streamer on Twitch playing WoW classic and you note about some of the improvements on the game followed by criticism. Is that considered damaging the image of Activision-Blizzard? Would Activision-Blizzard send out a cease and desist to the streamer, maybe get in touch with Twitch and ask them to do something about it? Because the only other thing companies fear aside from losing money is litigation… which would also cost them money.

And yes, I know this decision was made within the context of a competition, but that phrase scares me, and it should scare you too. If some other competitor is wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt or showcasing the Pride flag somewhere in their room, would those political statements also be seen as damaging Activision-Blizzard’s image? What reassurances do we have from a company that values profit over human rights that they won’t ban other players for any kind of political statement, overt or otherwise implied?

And what of the precedent set now? Blitzchung and the two stream casters may have had their bans shortened, but they’re still bans. Will other companies follow in this stead? What if Fortnite’s company, Epic Games (who Tencent also has an investment of 40% of the shares) doesn’t like what someone says during one of their tournaments, will they also be banned? Or if someone gives thanks to the queer community for the help they received, or the black community… lord knows how over-reactive gamers can be another any kind of social justice, up to and including harassing developers and writers.

AreaNet, best known for Guild Wars 2, fired writer Jessica Price on account of some comments she made about the bigotry, sexism, and misogyny of gamers, something that is very real. AreaNet showed itself to be more in line with keeping the loyalty of some truly revolting people in a fandom that’s given rise to one of the most sadly influential hate groups/harassment movements online: Gamergate.

And she had done that on her own private Twitter, not in the midst of any stream in a competition.

All in all, game companies have shown time and time again their main concern is money, from breaking people down via the crunch period to instigating horribly addictive gambling practices that they’ve tried to pass off as ‘surprise mechanics’. That one would ban someone because of a political statement about very real government crackdowns is just not that much of a stretch.

Before I finish though, I want to add in one more thing, which is that currently, #BoycottBlizzard has become quite the trending hashtag on Twitter, and to those who want to boycott them, all the more power to you. While I have uninstalled Battlenet from my PC and all of the games from Blizzard I’ve bought, I realized I still had an account and wanted to delete it.

There was just one… small… snag…

Screenshot_8

Government ID?! You want me to trust YOU with MY government ID?

I am in no way giving Activision-Blizzard a copy of my government ID, ANY of them. Not my Driver’s License and certainly not my Passport. While they say that all personal data would be deleted, I find it mighty suspect that they want a copy of my government ID, especially after this public debacle* they’ve been rightfully raked over the coals for. Companies are always releasing statements about how the personal data they’ve collected is leaked, and I can’t help but wonder if Activision-Blizzard would accidentally ‘leak’ your government ID to, say… the Chinese Government.

It would make visiting the Great Wall a tad difficult.

At the least, I was able to delete all of my payment methods and some personal information, so they can’t charge me for anything, but in the meantime, I’m stuck with an account I no longer want.

*Although I’m unsure how long this policy has been in place, if it’s something more recent or been there all along.