US politician shades Blizzard over World of Warcraft toxicity

This is why we can't have nice things

    
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we go

Last week, the gaming world was a tad busy running Halloween events and watching BlizzCon, so it passed almost without notice that a US politician from Anaheim, California, home of BlizzCon itself, called out Blizzard over the gross conduct of players in World of Warcraft.

According to Vice, US Congressman Lou Correa, who’s been focused on combating domestic terror groups across the country, was made aware of an evidently racist Halloween contest scene hosted by players in WoW thanks to one of his own staffers who plays the game. Correa’s account subsequently tweeted a image from the event depicting a male human character with white hooded robes and torch, accompanied by two crouching dark-skinned humans, one of whom is named Jessejackson and references Charlottesville.

“.@Blizzard_Ent—I was looking forward to welcoming you to Anaheim for your 13th #BlizzCon,” Correa tweeted. “Instead, I find myself asking how this can exist in one of your games. The @FBI knows online radicalization is real. I hope you agree & will remedy this immediately. Racism isn’t a game.”

Vice followed up with the congressman, who told reporters that Blizzard needed to clean up the game and do a better job of moderating this type of content.

“The user-generated content found in World of Warcraft is just one example of how far-right extremists are infiltrating online platforms and video games. […] By allowing white supremacists refuge, companies inadvertently create safe harbors that extremists can leverage to recruit and indoctrinate other people while also degrading the enjoyment of their own fans. […] I call on the industry to do better at managing and moderating their communities. Your players and fans want to play your games, not fight with white supremacists. Kick the bad actors out—for everyone’s sake.”

Again, this isn’t going to surprise most of our readers, as the press has been covering MMO toxicity and its often racist elements for many years, including an incident of KKK costumes in RuneScape. In fact, in 2018, a former white supremacist leader outright claimed that online games are being actively used to recruit new converts to hate groups.

Vice went on to dig into the guild in question here, finding that players have been complaining about the group in World of Warcraft (and other games) for the last decade. The publication also obtained leaked audio of a post-event meeting at which the guild argued about the prank; the group discusses fleeing members worried about being exposed and losing their jobs, while the leader suggests there a conspiracy afoot, hand-waving the situation by claiming his costume was a ghost rather than a klansman and justifying the group’s behavior as merely edgy jokes rather than violence advocacy. It’s also made clear that the guild’s website was closed down and “cleansed” to protect members from their own post history, though the server’s Reddit says the guild is still in-game.

Blizzard itself has apparently not yet issued a statement, but that’s pretty common for bans like this. Then again, there’s not really anything common about a congressman calling out a video game company on Twitter for unwittingly hosting racist content. (There was apparently a post on the official forums a few days ago, but it’s since been deleted.)

We can’t really recommend reading the Twitter thread as it’s riddled with dumb memes and racist images, but there are a few people thanking Correa for bringing attention to the issue, saying that they’ve been reporting guild’s leader for years and that in the ensuing days he’s finally been banned from WoW, though the recording makes it sound like a three-day ban only.

Source: Vice, Twitter. Thanks, Alex.

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Immoral

Blizzard is a private company and is allowed to punish players on its platform as they see fit. This Enclave leader’s version of roleplaying is offensive and ignorant, but not illegal. He has not said anything that advocates or pressures physical violence against protected groups.

Blizzard is the sole holder of this person’s fate. As such, the US Government has no business in this matter and should kindly shut up and go away.

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Bruno Brito

Blizzard is a private company and is allowed to punish players on its platform as they see fit.

And anyone is allowed to criticize them and call them up on their bullshit for it. So are politicians. No one is trying to sue them for it.

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Kickstarter Donor
thalendor

So, who wants to make a guild named “Revolution of Our Times” and hold in-game liberate Hong Kong protests to see how long it takes Blizzard to respond to that?

Alyn
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Alyn

I think those of us that have played WoW long enough have seen this coming. Sadly, from Barrens chat to today’s sorry excuse for trade chat have been a toilet of sewer talk to other individuals.

When this sh6t flies I generally right click report and then iggy the idiots for at a small respite of peace. It is not a good image and hasn’t been dealt with enough in WoW. There are other games in which this behavior is all too common. You guys remember when Fallout 76 just began and all the racist junk being hurled around?

We are a gaming COMMUNITY and damnit we owe it to each other as gamers with a conscious to act accordingly and with more ethical and moral behavior towards each other.

Rant over-

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Bruno Brito

When this sh6t flies I generally right click report and then iggy the idiots for at a small respite of peace.

Your attitude is completely correct, but the problem is that this has been the case for YEARS. Reporting doesn’t work, clearly.

Alyn
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Alyn

sighs-yeah I know Bruno-I know-guess why I was ranting at the wind and clouds.

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Jon Wax

Idle minds are the devils playground. If games were programmed correctly you’d be too busy to behave this way or you simply wouldn’t want to because you dig the game too much to deep it up

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Christmas Dog

This is a hilarious take.

Someone who is amused by being virulently racist isn’t going to stop being racist because they enjoy a video game too much to have the time to be racist.

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Bruno Brito

Uh…what? What kind of reasoning is that? Racism doesn’t happen because racists are vagabonds. Racism is systematic exactly because there are racial policies all over all echelons of society.

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Daniel Reasor

The Urban Dictionary link that Bree provides in the article does a lot to tell the story, all by itself. There are two entries on the guild leader, seven years apart – time that this guy had to drive players away from the server he plays on, with apparently zero lasting consequence for him.

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Jiminy Smegit

Reporting anything in WoW (at least in classic, no clue about retail) results in precisely nothing at all happening. I play on the PVE-RP realm Bloodsail Buccaneers and despite having reported some grossly offensive or stupid names, I have seen no action whatsoever, these people are still roaming around with their original names.

Based on little snippets I have heard here and there, it seems they downscaled their customer service team (in Austin I think?) quite significantly and have now farmed out much of their support to a fairly ineffectual 3rd party. No clue if that is true or not but I hear quite a bit of grumbling in chat about their lack of customer service.

They have community people on the forums making the correct noises but in game I see very little evidence of a company that gives a damn.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I don’t like racist images, but I do like seeing a know nothing about games Politician get trolled on his Twitter feed after he sticks his nose into it. So I think I will go ahead and take a peek at that Twitter thread.

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Axetwin .

You don’t like racist images, but you’re fine with people getting harassed for pointing out the racism?

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Arktouros

Dang the White Hood and wedding dress with torches still at it over a decade later. I remember first time an old guildie of mine did this setup and slow walked around Orgrimmar.

And just like back then the company, obviously, doesn’t support this kinda thing. If you report these people in game they almost universally all get bans as he did.

As for toxicity, this is really more along the lines of attempt at shock humor than toxicity typically. While I’ve never really found it particularly funny I suppose in a way I can at least understand it. In general don’t think WOW is any more particularly toxic than any other MMO, and I certainly have seen far worse (and people getting away with it).

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Bruno Brito

Blizzard’s response to my ticket was to tell me they refused to do anything about it because I filed a ticket instead of using the in-game “right click report” function… and as for their racism, it was allowed because they’re “roleplaying”, and Blizzard “can not action them for just being jerks”.

Instead of reading the ticket and taking action on people being horrible, they passed the buck back to me. I gave them player names, guild name, and quotes of what they said — and I was told too bad. I apparently need to police them myself by following them around and reporting each individual thing they say in chat, and only then will Blizzard consider removing extremely racist comments.

Below.

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Utakata

…yeah, that doesn’t like a 6 month ban to me. o.O

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Utakata

Edit/Erratum: …that doesn’t sound* like…proper.

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Danny Smith

“WoW”

“User Generated Content”

I’m sorry, what?

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Bruno Brito

Not gonna happen, peeps.

Remember, only “official” channels are moderated against “any kind of political statements.

Clearly, their GAME is not a official channel.