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OPINION: The Tone Deaf Hypocrisy of Blizzard and 'Keep Politics Out'

Poorna Shankar Posted:
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Editorials 0

In case you missed it, Blizzard suspended a pro Hearthstone player by the name of Blitzchung for voicing support for the Hong Kong protests. Blizzard later released a statement justifying their reason for suspension. Suffice it to say the backlash has been immediate. Here’s why Blizzard’s actions are nothing more than craven hypocrisy, and why, “keep politics out,” is an asinine non-argument.

            

                        

Let me be blunt. This editorial will anger many of you. I have no doubt that I’ll see, “keep politics out of X,” comments and arguments below because this is exactly what we see on our news item from yesterday (linked above). To be frank, I honestly don’t care. 

We live in a world where literally everything is political. This is because what constitutes as “political” is completely 100% subjective to each individual person. Everyone will be offended by everything. I guarantee you that if I tie my shoelaces on a live stream differently than someone else ties theirs, that person will be offended. Again, if you need any crumb of proof, look at the comments of virtually every single one of our articles on this very site. This is the world we live in.

To that end, “keep politics out of X,” is a complete non-argument. We are surrounded by politics. Politics are baked into everything we do because politics inform everything we do. It is literally impossible to keep politics out of anything. “Keep politics out of X,” is a completely stupid argument with no basis in reality.

Moreover, keep in mind that Blizzard is a company. Companies only care about their bottom line. They will do and say anything just to make money. Note, there’s nothing wrong with making money. But the way in which that money is made absolutely must be analyzed and discussed. 

For example, there’s a reason why seemingly every company changes their Twitter avatar to the Pride flags during Pride month. Do you honestly think these companies believe in what Pride month stands for? No. Of course they don’t. They do this because they know it will play well publicly and make them look like they genuinely care. And if they look like they genuinely care, they’ll gain the favor of their consumers. And if they gain favor with consumers, this translates into dollars.

Companies are craven by nature. Because of their desperate ceaseless need to not offend anyone for any reason for fear of losing even a single dollar, they fall back on the, “we’re not political” stance. As a result, they are constantly walking the political correctness tightrope, attempting to look as neutral as possible…exceptwhen it affects their bottom line. When these companies stand for nothing, when they believe in nothing, they become nothing.

All of this circles back to Blizzard and the suspension of Blitzchung. When looking at situations like these, I like to apply the simple Common Sense test. Does this whole situation make any common sense?

Let’s look at Blizzard’s values, two of which are, “Think Globally,” and, “Every Voice Matters.” Let us consider the fact that Blizzard is an American company, thus subscribing to “American” ideals of freedom, speech, and all that fluff. Now let’s look at Blizzard’s justification for suspending Blitzchung and revoking his prize money,

Look at what is being said there and how it is worded (emphasis added):

“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.”

How utterly craven of Blizzard. There’s that tightrope again, “We must not offend anyone. It’ll damage our image. If our brand is damaged, we lose dollars. Oh and those values? Nah, they sound good on paper and people will eat them up. They play well.”

Keep in mind, this is the same company who prides themselves in the diversity of its own IP, Overwatch, seemingly living up to Blizzard’s values,

“I think if you look at the history of Overwatch, there’s been such a wide variety of people that we’ve represented in the game. We have no shortage of heroes that we’re currently working on secretly back in Irvine. Right now I think the number’s around six that we have in development. I don’t think people are gonna be disappointed.”

Let’s now apply the common sense test. What makes more common sense? For Blizzard to basically eviscerate someone for carrying out Blizzard's own values? OR, for Blizzard, an American company, to cow to an authoritarian Chinese regime diametrically opposed to Blizzard’s values?

Blizzard’s actions defy common sense. Their actions are nothing short of brazen hypocrisy. But when viewed through the lens of, “the only thing that matters is our bottom line,” their actions come into focus. 

Blizzard, like virtually every single company, is driven by fear – a fear of missing out on even single cent. And so, they cave. They bow. They twist. They warp. They contort themselves in all manner of ways simply to make that last dollar. Their values are nothing more than paper values. They are meaningless. They are bound by the politics of today and the desperate need to fit in and not offend. 

Blizzard’s actions and, “keep politics out,” are completely stupid. They defy common sense. But I guess common sense doesn’t matter for a company who told an obviously massive PC gaming audience at their ownconvention, “Do you guys not have phones?!”


ShankTheTank

Poorna Shankar

A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.