A lovely Wednesday morning, 64 degrees and it finally feels like October. At least it will feel that way for a few more minutes. I went to bed this morning at 6 AM and woke up at 8:30 AM bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the world!
I mean, I will be after I finish this giant ass mug of coffee and HOW CUTE ARE THESE KRISPY KREMES!
And oh…yeah…this mug that I made in 2015…with the Hearthstone logo on one side and my Warcraft guild banner on the other. Good times.
First, I need to establish the fact that I’m a total hipster when it comes to hating Blizzard: I broke up with Blizzard way before it was cool and I didn’t need to scream it from the rooftops because I don’t need the universe’s validation. Conversely,
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I was a Vanilla WoW player and originally quit due to babies and time and I knew that I would have little to no self-control when it came to gaming. I was young and all I did at the time was work and then come home to play video games with the Mr. You can Google “baby dies from neglect video games” and there is no shortage of horror stories. I didn’t think that would neglect my children, but definitely I would tell the rest of my life to fuck off if I was still enmeshed with Warcraft. With my first baby I was scared of everything. In fact, I learned about pregnancy and listeria and didn’t have a cold sandwich for my entire pregnancy. I was so psychologically terrified that I began having an intense fear of a zombie apocalypse primarily, I think, to distract myself from my fear of everything that could actually go wrong during a pregnancy.
The second time I quit was because of how much it was interfering with my marriage; this awesome game that originally pitted me and the Mr. against the entire world of Azeroth and beyond had imperceptibly over time become a huge wedge between us. In our desperate need to escape from problems in the real world, we did so separately and nearly destroyed our marriage. When we fixed our marriage (or at least that aspect) and found our way back out WoW, something was just different. It was definitely a bigger time sink (fuck you, LFR queue for dps) but the player environment was more toxic as well. Everything was a mindless grind because the more time it took to complete every goal was more money in Blizzard’s pocket. Don’t get me wrong, obviously they want you to play more/pay more but at least make it fun or interesting.
But this isn’t a post about how crazy or not crazy I am, nor is it about how I researched the cost of bulk canned water. It especially is not about how I ultimately calmed my zombie fears by reasoning that a biological zombie outbreak would end rather quickly considering how fast insects and carrion feeders would eliminate the zombie threat, but the fact that Blizzard is once again being a piece of shit.
This all comes on the heels of the big news about Blizzard and the pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung (holy shit, is that a great name). Literally every article out there can detail the controversy better than I ever could, but basically, Blitzchung is a professional Hearthstone player and in a post-match interview he made a political statement regarding his support for Hong Kong’s protesting citizens. Blizzard was like NOPE and promptly fired him, rescinded all of his tournament winnings and banned him from Hearthstone professional matches for 12 months.
Personal disclaimer: I am half-Chinese (half-Thai!) but 100% disconnected from my “roots”. I speak more Spanish than I do any Asian language, I can’t make a proper dumpling or bao but I make the fucking best Thanksgiving turkey EVER. Better than the Mr.’s grandmother’s and that’s a big statement in The South. I don’t have a solid opinion on Hong Kong because I’m 1.) completely ignorant regarding politics in general, world politics even more so, and 2.) very aware of how this can all be manipulated and stirred up by rogue agents from all over the world. Ultimately, I think the vast majority of Hong Kong protesters are genuine in what they believe in and I have no doubt the violence is very, very real. However, I’m wary of the media (as everyone should be) and “first hand accounts” are mostly unreliable because you can’t vet and verify it. I see posts on reddit, imgur, all over social media and if I don’t personally know the poster, how can I be sure it’s not a professional rabble rouser? Part of a shadow government pulling strings? While comical and humorous, I suspect most political protests start like this:
Unpopular opinion: Blizzard is well within their rights and interests to fire Blitzchung. The wording in their contracts are purposefully vague—they aren’t paying all that money to contract lawyers for nothing. Nothing that Blizzard had done is in any way illegal, an infringement on Blitzchung’s rights, or against anything that makes them a company.
Just because they have the right to do it doesn’t make it right.
I hate these trends where everyone is suddenly shocked and appalled at corporations being…corporations. They are financially obligated to their shareholders to MAKE MONEY. That’s how corporations work. Blizzard had “the best year ever” and simultaneously laid off 800 employees? MAKE MONEY. Pissing off China will be a significant detriment to their ability to MAKE MONEY. In the second quarter of 2019, Activision Blizzard earned $173 million from the Asia Pacific region, about 12 percent of its $1.4 billion worldwide total revenues. Just because a company can afford something has no bearing whatsoever on whether they will afford something.
I personally feel like everyone has their nostalgia glasses on and are desperately clinging to early 2000’s Blizzard, rather than the reality of Activision-Blizzard of 2019. The company that Blizzard was is definitely not the company Activision is. Like so many others, I want to romanticize Blizzard and remember them in the frame that I created for them: cool, innovative, involved with their customer base of gamers. I remember being able to chat with GM’s in the actual game! Blue text posts were something to look forward to and the people that worked there were (or at least did an amazing job of acting) invested in not only the game that they’d worked on but also how it was received by their audience that mirrored them in joy and passion. I think it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about any Blizzard game and even longer since Blizzard was interested in their original culture.
Unpopular opinion 2: Blitzchung’s right to free speech has not been infringed. He is absolutely free to say whatever he wants; he is not, however, free from consequences that come from what he says. My personal opinion is that he’s not an idiot and knew that speaking out would be controversial. He lives in Hong Kong, not the United States, so any argument of US Constitutionality is really a moot point. Blitzchung’s response and demeanor after Blizzard’s decision tells me that he was not surprised by the outcome and seemed mentally and emotionally prepared for the aftermath. Like so many voices over the internet have stated, this blow up has just brought more attention to the cause and hopefully at least a portion of this attention will result in actual education rather than coat-tailing.
I’m an old cynical lady. I know someone that can make a career out of esports isn’t going to go broke and die in this environment. As much as I want to believe that this all comes from a place of true concern for Hong Kong, I wonder if there was ulterior motive for his action. Maybe he wanted out of his contract? Maybe he had an offer from another company that was more lucrative? Maybe Bart Simpson paid him a good chunk of change to start a riot in the bank?
In my opinion, regardless of Blitzchung’s motive, at the end of the day, Blizzard is still shit and has been for a long time. I’m glad I haven’t paid them any money in a long time and I’m especially glad that I haven’t gotten sucked back in under the lure of Classic WoW. I am not going to bandwagon and tell anyone to #boycottBlizzard. Other people need to make a living either directly or peripherally and as noble as the cause is, eating, paying rent, caring for your family—those are absolutely more important. No one really wants to be a martyr. The right or wrong of it, the solution to even one of any of the hundreds of aspects of this? Good luck, because you sure as hell won’t find it here.
More than anything I hope Blitzchung and those he cares about stay safe and successful. I hope the employees at Blizzard continue to do what they can without compromising themselves in the process. More than anything, I hope things don’t get as bad as we all think they will.