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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blizzard's New WoW Race: Homophobic Humans

I've always thought that in a rational world, the people who attack others for their sexual orientation are the ones who need to learn how the STFU. Naturally, many religious organizations, right wing "think tanks", the American military and now ... Blizzard disagrees with that notion.

Want to play World of Warcraft? That's fine, as long as you aren't broadcasting being anything but hetero:

Andrews' original posting read: "OZ [the name of her guild] is recruiting all levels ¦ We are not 'GLBT only,' but we are 'GLBT friendly'! ("

In her follow-up letter to the company, Andrews explained that there was an obvious misunderstanding and that she was not insulting anyone, but merely recruiting for a "GLBT friendly" guild.

The response from Blizzard was, "While we appreciate and understand your point of view, we do feel that the advertisement of a 'GLBT friendly' guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise. If you will look at our policy, you will notice the suggested penalty for violating the Sexual Orientation Harassment Policy is to 'be temporarily suspended from the game.' However, as there was clearly no malicious intent on your part, this penalty was reduced to a warning."

Blizzard's stance was clear that recruiting for a guild using "GLBT" was inappropriate as, the company said, it may "incite certain responses in other players that will allow for discussion that we feel has no place in our game."
-- Blizzard of GLBT gaming policy questions [thanks kotaku]

What kind of Sexual Orientation Harassment Policy protects the harassers? Sure, I understand the whole concept of "don't wear the gimp suit to work, Josh" and "stop bringing up bondage analogies to clients, Josh" ... but what if I was gay? I couldn't tell anyone about a Pride parade? Because they might be a homophobic asshole? Hey, the only way they'll stop being one is if their behavior is forced out into the open and correspondingly, society makes a sour face when they do.

It's OK to cybershag in some shack and apparently, and Blizzard is OK with that. How about being black? I mean, should players refrain from talking about their race because some white supremacist dickwad might be on the same channel? That's inane. There is even tell that Blizzard has started to crack down on Christian Guilds (scroll to the bottom). So it's essentially uncool to bring up anything about yourself that might be controversial to someone on the world's most popular MMO? Gee, that should be a short list ... of everything.

Comparatively, I've found two references to gay or GLBT friendly guilds in Guild Wars, Lyssa's Embrace and the Qweer Kult ... although I'm not how active they currently might be ... but I didn't see any signs of ArenaNet trying to shut them down. I've had a couple people just be plain, old fasioned, jerks in GW ... but honestly I don't remember much about anyone's preferences on one thing or another. Course ... I don't use teamspeak either...

Blizzard's policies are beyond ridiculous here. They apparently have decided that it is too difficult to monitor abusive behavior, so they choose to monitor anything that might incite abusive behavior. Shut up and play, in other words. What the hell is point of an MMO where the rule is just shut up and play?

I would hazard to guess.

Speak up, and play something else.

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Brinstar said...

Are they serious??? A strongly-worded letter to Blizzard is in order, I think. I'll do a bit more research on this before firing away, but this is stupid. There shouldn't be any problems with forming gay-friendly guilds. Hell, with the irrational, rampant, and immature homophobia ocurring in-game, I would think that some people would welcome being in a guild where they aren't insulted on the basis of whom they are attracted to. I feel compelled to say something. This is totally out of order. Oh, and of course this had to happen just after I paid subscription fees. I don't suppose I could get a refund on the basis of discriminatory mandates, could I? Doh.

Josh said...

More research is probably in order, although I don't think Blizzard much up to intrepretation in their response. Some of the forum posts around this are interesting though, for instance I saw one bit accusing Blizzard of advertising Christian guilds, but then when I looked that up, I saw the bit about someone being afraid they too were getting pounced on.

And precisely - I don't think an online company can ever insure that the gameplay will be 100% harrassment free, but by disallowing guilds to try and form safe havens from those likely to be harrassed ... well, that's just making the matter worse. It's clearly a counterproductive policy.

Not sure about the rebate, but you can sure tell them why you're cancelling (if you ended up doing so).