War Thunder’s chat has been disabled for a full month since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

    
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One of the tried-and-true rules about MMORPGs is that you’re almost always better off if you disable global chat immediately – especially if you’re in a game with a lot of younger players or with a competitive setting where smacktalk and trolling are likely. So you might understand why, in the middle of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia that has so far left millions of Ukrainians displaced and led to thousands of dead, War Thunder operator Gaijin Entertainment shut down in-game text and voice chat.

That was a full month ago, Vice’s Motherboard blog reminds us, and it’s still down.

At the time, the Hungary-based studio Gaijin said it had disabled chat in an effort to “[stay] out of politics” and “to make sure that [chat] is not used for political discussions that might offend other players.”

But of course, even without chat, politics is still very much present within a game that is literally based on real-world places, people, and machinery. As Motherboard notes, players are displaying the gold-and-blue colorway of Ukraine to support victims, while others have customized their tanks with the Russian “Z” in support of the invasion. Or possibly to troll everyone else. How exactly can you tell when you can’t chat?

In the meantime, players still can’t chat at all, outside of the preset quick commands, which according to some players makes it significantly harder to play and organize teams. But as one player told Vice, he has an “emotional reaction” to seeing the white Z on a tank and admits he’s “wanted to shit talk Russian sympathizers,” suggesting it’s harder to keep his composure and remember it’s just a game when “[p]eople are dying and a big player base in these games is Eastern European.”

Readers will recall that Gaijin’s War Thunder is far from the only MMO with such a playerbase and theme; in the wake of the invasion, Wargaming, which operates World of Tanks, World of Warships, and World of Warplanes, paused marketing, evacuated employees from Kyiv, donated money to the Ukrainian Red Cross, and sacked a pro-Russian developer.

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