Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick downplays the role of politics in games

    
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Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick clearly doesn’t fear the Blizzard boycott that is still technically ongoing following Blizzard’s October decision to penalize a Hearthstone esports star and multiple other casters and players following his vocal support of home rule for Hong Kong during a post-tournament stream.

According to multiple outlets, Kotick attended the CNBC Evolve conference this week, at which he was asked about the role of games company leadership on political topics like China and so-called gaming addiction. And while he didn’t actually discuss Blizzard and Hong Kong specifically, he did dismiss the idea that games involve politics.

“[W]e’re not the operator of the world’s town halls. We’re the operator of the communities that allow you to have fun through the lens of a video game. And you know, I — my responsibility is to make sure that our communities feel safe, secure, comfortable and satisfied and entertained. And so I don’t — I don’t — that doesn’t convey to me the right to have a platform for a lot of political views, I don’t think. I think my responsibility is to satisfy our audiences and our stakeholders, our employees, our shareholders. But I think there are some business people who are incredible examples of character and integrity and principle and have what you see are the great attributes of leadership, and I think that they are incredibly inspiring for me. But I think, you know, they do have the right to articulate views and visions and voices about government and policy and politics, and I love engaging with those people.”

We are sure gamers have heard this argument dozens of times from people who really like making money, but of course every company and every video game is political, whether we’re talking unionization and corporate ethics, in-game political themes and quests and representation, or real-world science and law revolving around games. Neutrality is essentially impossible.

We’ve covered Blizzard’s Blitzchung fiasco extensively if you need a refresher.

Source: CNBC, GIbiz, Kotaku

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draugris

China is a big market for any business and China has a lot of investments in the United States, so expecting that Blizzard is some kind of vanguard for what people think freedom of speech is, was naive from the beginning. And regarding politics in games, I think it can make some games interesting, as long as we are not talking about real-world politics. If a game features real-world politics I avoid that like a plague, I play games to escape that kind of BS.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

The theory goes that China is such a big market that no one can ignore it. But I’m beginning to wonder if the hardening of its attitude towards video games, the regulation of gaming time, the enforcement of cultural taboos might actually end up suppressing its market and making it unattractive to western developers.

There actually may not be a “worldwide” market for games. As governments and societies become more protective of their own cultures and prohibitions, publishers may find it harder and harder to make content that is pan-national.

Or, in 30 years we may have reverted back to the 1800s as we fight to survive in the hostile environment coming with climate change.

But that would be discussing politics and we’re not going to do that.

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Bruno Brito

There actually may not be a “worldwide” market for games.

Seems accurate. Try to appease every culture and you end up appeasing no one.

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dreamer

Bingo. This is something that goes beyond markets, too.

We’re constantly seeing publishers and developers casting wide nets, trying to appeal to the largest number of people. But that leads to the age old “you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” paradox. And yet they don’t seem to understand that this is why their games are failing to find lasting audiences.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

ANYTHING can be political if you try really hard enough. Even eating and shitting is political. Have people not looked up the definition of “politics”?

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Sorenthaz

Big game companies like ActiBlizz only pursue agendas when it suits them and they have something to gain/maintain, i.e. revealing that two of Overwatch’s biggest poster characters are homosexual keeps up their image of being socially progressive/inclusive and basically comes at no cost to them while it may encourage folks to support them who didn’t before. All they really had to do was hire possibly a few writers who are progressively minded and let them go to town.

But when it comes to potentially making a move that would damage their business relations for a market they’re still trying to enter (mobile market in China), of course they’re going to bend over and do what they can to keep that relationship positive and try to mitigate backlash. They’re businesses first and foremost, and while the devs themselves might be great people who just want to make fun games/etc., the folks at top up in corporate only care about the business aspects and continual growth.

laelgon
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laelgon

The problem is that defining what is and isn’t “political” is incredibly subjective

Personally, I’d love to see games take a stance on getting rid of all the MAGA, Trump, wall, Hillary, etc… troll and chat bullshit that pervades online gaming right now on. I like to play games as a form of escapism, so I get why people say “keep politics out of my game.” I’d certainly prefer not to see the endless left vs right chat spam in every game, or the not so clever guild names meant to trigger the other side.

But then you have groups of people who think including a gay character or a woman (gasp!) in a game is pushing a political agenda. Or that having policies that ban slurs is somehow infringing on their right to freeze peach (which doesn’t apply anyway).

Where do you draw the line when one person’s idea of basic human decency is another person’s radical political agenda? I don’t trust a company to be a good arbiter of that, and they know it, which is why they can’t help but fuck it up when they try.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

The irony of all these people talking about ‘rights’ is that rights are granted by government(You may believe you were born with some kind of inherent rights, but those rights were enshrined in Constitutions/writings most governments agree to, and thus the people abide by, but when the people no longer abide by this, those rights no longer exist/have meaning.), and if you stand against the government of your nation, you are essentially disagreeing with their ‘rights’, and thus situations like what are going on in HK happen…because anarchy is what happens when law fails.

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Bruno Brito

and if you stand against the government of your nation, you are essentially disagreeing with their ‘rights’

Uh…what?

Constitutional rights have NOTHING to do to how a government is run. Just because i’m against how the Brazilian government is managed, doesn’t mean i’m against my rights of dignity as a citizen.

This makes no sense.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

You can ‘disagree’ with a government, and still be following the laws, and be being granted those rights. Once you reside in an area, and disagree and refuse to obey those laws/act against them, that’s when law becomes involved, but those rights are only being granted because that government/the people agreed to it. Anarchy is a lack of laws, refusal to follow them, and therefore no ‘rights’ exist to that individual (Nor any other.). Those rights are granted by others/from governments, and therefore the people, agreeing to certain ‘inalienable’ rights everyone should have. If you don’t believe in ‘rights’, or you believe your ‘rights’ trump others, you no longer are participating in the system that created those rights. It’s all very confusing, I know.

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Bruno Brito

It’s all very confusing, I know.

It’s not confusing, it’s wrong.

You can ‘disagree’ with a government, and still be following the laws, and be being granted those rights.

Uh…yeah? Because laws, specially CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS, are made so governments are ran in a way to avoid that government to have complete, unopposed power.

Once you reside in an area, and disagree and refuse to obey those laws/act against them, that’s when law becomes involved, but those rights are only being granted because that government/the people agreed to it.

You do realize that the State is different than a government, right? Government by definition has a timeframe. The estate is timeless.

Anarchy is a lack of laws, refusal to follow them, and therefore no ‘rights’ exist to that individual (Nor any other.).

Yeah? And? What does Anarchy has to do with anything? We don’t live in anarchy. No one is trying to live in anarchy. Anarchy is a “form of govern” or, more accurately, the complete absence of one. That’s not what the HK people are looking for.

hose rights are granted by others/from governments, and therefore the people, agreeing to certain ‘inalienable’ rights everyone should have.

You seem to be confusing the State machine for the people. I can be against the Trump government and be for the US State as a conceptual existence that rules society.

If you don’t believe in ‘rights’, or you believe your ‘rights’ trump others, you no longer are participating in the system that created those rights.

That’s one of the most misguided statements i’ve ever read in my life.

The state doesn’t give a SHIT about what you believe. You’re allowed to say what you want and to believe/think whatever you want. You just need to follow a specific set of rules towards plausible societal life.

BELIEVING that the State machinery is completely corrupted from top to bottom and should be destroyed is not: 1- against the law and 2- a reflection of action.

People believe shit all the time. That doesn’t change anything. Even if you say that you abdicate your rights as a human being, as long as you live in a society, you’ll be redirected to a hospital if you get hurt, you’ll be redirected to a prison if you break the law, and you’ll be in front of a judge if someone sues you.

Again: What you said makes no sense. None.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Even if you say that you abdicate your rights as a human being, as long as you live in a society, you’ll be redirected to a hospital if you get hurt, you’ll be redirected to a prison if you break the law, and you’ll be in front of a judge if someone sues you.

I’m sure hospitals, prisons, and judges will exist in anarchy. /sarcasm

(Seeing as hospitals will have no supplies because they will have been stolen by people to use to heal themselves, and the supply trucks to re-supply them will be raided on the way, and the prisons will have been emptied by people not being paid to watch those people and others breaking them out in hopes of having someone on their side…and judges will probably have been killed by those criminals, for depriving them of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness they believed they had the ‘right’ to…since they are all innocent in their own minds, and revenge is often a motive humanity uses.)

It’s like someone doesn’t know what they are talking about here…

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Bruno Brito

It’s like someone doesn’t know what they are talking about here…

I completely agree. You’re clearly talking about something you don’t understand.

Anarchy has NOTHING to do with this debate. We’re NOT living under anarchic societies. Not is Blitz, not is Blizz, neither are us.

YOU brought up anarchy, because in your defective little mind, everytime a government has a upheaval, society breaks down and then remakes itself whole.

That’s a pathetic reasoning. Rules aren’t tied to the timed government body. Trump didn’t “remake society” when he got elected.

I’m sure hospitals, prisons, and judges will exist in anarchy. /sarcasm

Why are you talking about Anarchy? Who the fuck gives a shit about Anarchy?

Being an anarchist means nothing when you live in the US, or you’re Brazilian. Do you really believe that changes anything?

Do you really think a guy can shoot someone here, then he claims “i’m a anarchist” in front of the judge, and they let him leave because “our rules don’t apply to you then”.

The fuck kinda reasoning is that. That’s not how society works. That’s not how ANYTHING works.

I’m against Bolsonaro, here in Brazil. Do you really fucking think i’m against the entire Constitution of 1988? No, you simpleton. I’m against ONE specific president, and i’m for keeping the constitution intact.

Next you’ll say that we don’t have the right to jail neo-nazis because they believe in a different form of government.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

if you stand against the government of your nation, you are essentially disagreeing with their ‘rights’, and thus situations like what are going on in HK happen…because anarchy is what happens when law fails.

Except that is not what’s going on in HK right now. They are defending their rights against mainland attempts to preempt or subvert them.

Anarchy happens when governments fail, which is a failure of a cohesive society to form to demand laws and good governance.

Lawlessness occurs when a certain sector of society, whether they be rich and entitled or empowered by violence, decides laws do not pertain to them and effectively, say by bribery or assassination, prevent laws from being enforced. A government can appear to be functioning even when it is rife with lawlessness because those in power are without morals or integrity.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

The rioting by most definitions fits ‘anarchy’, but yes, what’s going on in HK is complex. They are ‘ruled’ by a government they disagree with, and are essentially breaking away/trying to form their own society because they disagree on matters of import/are not being allowed to live as they wish, which because that government rules with an iron fist…is hard to break away from.

As a quick aside : People nowadays tend to be arguing semantics/meanings of words to try and get their points across, but that’s a limitation of language itself having not evolved far enough to allow for proper communication.

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Bruno Brito

Are you really blaming language to make your point come across as less wrong? C’mon now.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Are you really misdirecting anger over other people’s comments at someone who has nothing to do with it?

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Bruno Brito

What anger. I’m debating your poor attempt at making a point. Whatever you’re talking about Anarchy has nothing to do with the subject at hand. No one is debating Anarchy.

I don’t even know why you brought it up. HK is not an Anarchy, nor is the US. Nor is Brazil. How many Anarchies you know of?

What’s happening in HK is not the “construction of another society”. It’s just the substitution of the people favorable to a foreign abusive government.

Again: You seem to be confusing the State with it’s governing body. The people in a state are, by definition, under a timer.

Are you really saying that every 4/5 years, when a new president is elected, Brazil/US has a new society?

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

No, you’re speaking from an emotional standpoint after arguing with others farther down in the thread/getting huffy about it, and totally misconstruing what I’m saying, then attempting to call ME out/start shit with me/by telling me I’m ‘wrong’. It’s so blatantly obvious to me that I don’t even feel a desire to point by point correct you.

I’ve never really even had a ‘beef’ with you, nor any desire to, as I usually agree with you on points, but you’re not making sense at this current moment and are attempting to start a fight for no other reason than that someone else called you out.

I can admit my points don’t always come across well, but in this case, you went from 0-60 rage-face at me for no reason whatsoever, so I’m less inclined to explain myself properly : I was attempting to explain my point better, but it sounds like you are just looking for a fight here, so I’m really questioning why I should/if it wouldn’t be better for me to walk away ‘being the better man’.

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Bruno Brito

so I’m less inclined to explain myself properly

Nah, you just failed at that. Why would i try to wait for you to try to “explain yourself better” when your entire point is based on a dishonest argument.

I don’t want you to explain yourself better. I want you to realize you don’t seem to grasp…well, anything worth of value towards this discussion.

Anarchy is not a point to this debate. We’re not discussing Anarchy. You brought up Anarchy. No one did. No one is fightning for Anarchy, and HK is not under an Anarchic threat.

Period.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

This might be a good time to remember that Hong Kong was a British colony for a 150 years. That when it reverted back to China it had a democratic government and was one of the world’s most important economic and financial hubs. While the Communists had no trouble destroying the former, they didn’t want to mess with the latter, so in order to maintain the financial benefits of a free Hong Kong, they allowed a fiction of democratic government to continue, a fiction they were obviously from the start intending to slowly erode, as they have been for the last 20 years.

The contention that the Chinese communist mainland’s society is the same as Hong Kong society is not a true statement. So they are not “breaking away” from their own society, they are doing just the opposite. Fighting for its survival.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

That’s a semantic argument, and fits with what I said.

It’s like the Republicans in the US arguing the interpretation as per the law of various words in the Constitution/Amendments to it to bend them towards their desires, while also packing courts/the legal system to ‘get their way’, and then viciously ON CAMERA threatening lives if they don’t get it. (We’re seeing a lot of that with the impeachment stuff as they keep blowing their lids at numerous points during ‘questioning’ periods. What’s worse is knowing that the people they sat next to them are literally there to make sure they say ‘the right thing’ ‘or else’.)

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Ashfyn Ninegold

A semantic argument? Well, okay. Although I doubt the people in Hong Kong view it as such.

Although it pains me deeply that you would compare me to the radicals attempting to overthrow the US Constitution, they are the bullies and thugs you describe.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

See, this is what’s happening with humanity.

‘Us vs them’

You’re othering me at this specific moment, implying that I’m ‘against the HK people’…”I doubt the people in HK view it as such”

…when I’ve made my stance on this rather clear throughout these threads that I support what they are doing, and am AGAINST Blizzard’s stance.

This implies that they have no right to their belief either. It’s all kind of getting really tiresome, and this is where I agree with those on the other side about that…people are all having to form up into little battalions/groups ‘against’/’vs’ someone else…for some reason or another. It’s biases, it’s ‘agree with me or else’.

It’s the same thing that created those dynasties/government groups that large swatches of the populace disagrees with. It was an idea, that became something more, and was built upon. If you don’t walk in lockstep, you are shunned, you are othered, you aren’t a part of ‘the group’. Maybe some of us don’t want to be. Where’s the allowance for that?

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Bruno Brito

Maybe some of us don’t want to be.

Then…don’t?

Here’s the problem that you, who don’t want to be, don’t seem to grasp:

The people who don’t want to be are fine. The people who DOWNPLAY those who are fighting for justice, should go fuck themselves.

It’s that simple. You don’t wanna be part of it? Don’t be part of it! Go play your games.

But calling the HK protesters anarchists like they wanna just tear down the foundations of their country and toss it into the abyss is just shortsightedly dumb. THAT’S the entire problem here.

If you don’t wanna take a stance, fine, don’t. But this is not what you’re doing. You’re taking a opposite stance, and when you take the opposite stance, you put yourself in front of the wall they’re trying to break. It’s that simple.

No one made you choose sides. You’re here debating they’re anarchists, and i’m here debating that you’re wrong. Don’t blame us for choosing your side.

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Utakata

Or tldr: No, the parrot is just resting.

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Paragon Lost

lol! Thanks, needed the chuckle. :)

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Utakata

…unfortunately our comments are being bloated up with apologists saying the same thing. /le sigh

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Paragon Lost

Corporations by and large are ethically bankrupt, if it isn’t improving their profits it will be pushed aside or ignored.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Unrestrained capitalism demands it.

Unfortunately.

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Paragon Lost

Yup, unfettered capitalism really bites. I’m all for capitalism, but it needs to be regulated and always looked at closely since it is unethical by its very nature. The negative influence upon the world that unfettered capitalism has just makes me ill. I guess I’d have to say I’m an ethical capitalist if I had to label myself… heh.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Democratic socialist.

Go ahead.

Try it on. You might like it.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

It’s got that word in it that people are too busy railing against to even understand it, and that many generations were taught ‘to fear’ : ‘socialism’…

(I already support it..)

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Paragon Lost

Works for me. :)

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Bruno Brito

You know…i wouldn’t have a problem with that. I could live with the “corporations are soulless” motto, and just be against them overtly causing direct damage like hiring 10yo to make jeans.

But when Blizzard makes an entire show out of it, and claims the “we’re geeks too, like you” bs to make us relate, then i think that’s my line being crossed.

When i think of that “apology”, i honestly think Brack should just stay silent. It would be overall BETTER.

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TomTurtle

An unsurprising response that predictably misses the point on purpose. Best to focus on that talking point in order to turn the conversation away from the severity of Blizzard’s actions and the implications therein.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Oh Bobby, it’s a bit too late for that now.

Yes, your world is a town hall, like it or not. You’ve been in bed with the Chinese government for more than a decade. You’ve censored your products for them. You’ve given them your voice to speak their political message on your social media. You can’t lie and say it isn’t your job to be political, when your company works in partnership with the Chinese communist regime.

No, you insufferable prick, you don’t get to weasel out now.

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Anthony Clark

Things won’t get better there until Kotick is gone.

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Jeremy Barnes

they won’t get better than either. It will be someone just as bad or worse