Thursday, 3 November 2011

Blizzard Takes Flak for Homophobic BlizzCon Video - Blizzard President Apologizes

Certainly we've all heard the namecalling and trashtalking before, but does it depend more on who's saying it than what's actually said? Recent uproar over George Fisher's comments in a video that was played at BlizzCon seem to indicate that it's probably both, and a whole lot more.

It's normally pretty much all smiles and sunshine at Blizzard. Games like World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, and Diablo have pretty much given the company a license to price their own money. It was all going quite well, BlizzCon was guaranteed to drum up a lot of hype for the upcoming releases and expansions, and a good time was set to be had by all. Thing is, the show ended on a sour note, although at the time it's very likely that no one -- at least from Blizzard -- thought that this was going to be the case.

The video was not taken lightly by the homosexual gaming community, and by rights it shouldn't be. Sure, George Fisher is at best only tertiarily related to Blizzard, since he's a member of the WoW band, but the fact that he was interviewed and that said interview actually made it in seems a tad preposterous.

Now, I watched the video, and I can honestly see both sides. I mean, it's really obvious that Fisher is gunning for that macho, "pwn noobs" bullshit that everyone sees. I kind of put the video in the same category as Angry German Kid, in that it's really so over the top that it winds up being a little ridiculous. However, just because I find it ridiculous doesn't mean that it's not offensive, and that others weren't offended by it. Certainly when your audience is as large as the one Blizzard caters to on a regular basis, you have to be a bit more careful about what anyone even remotely related to the company says or does, and really posting the video just smacked of a huge oversight on someone's part. It might have been one of those "It looks funny on paper, and when you share it with a few friends you get a laugh." type of things, but when trying to apply that mentality to an almost unfathomably wider base of people the entire thing falls apart as we were quickly shown.

At least Blizzard is doing the right thing and actually apologizing for the lack of forethought in airing that video. How ultimately sincere or insincere it might be is up to the individual to judge, but certainly in my books it's better than them saying nothing, or continuing to say that it was just a bit of harmless fun.

Doubtless the debates will continue to rage on in many forums over whether this is a case of people being too prudish or not, but in my mind the answer as to be an honest no. Certainly we hear these words, the same ones used in the video and that I will not be repeating out of a sense of decency and tact (and that's saying something coming from a guy that often could make a longshoreman with tourettes blush during my worst diatribes), but it's not often that we're forced to think about their impact. On that note, I depart with a statement, and a link: just because it doesn't offend you, doesn't mean it's not offensive.

2 comments:

  1. Sadly this isn't the only time Blizz has shown homophobic tendencies:

    ... Okay so I was going to post two links (one from Sirlin's site) where it was talked about. Basically, a LBGT-centric guild wasn't allowed to be LBGT-centric for rather questionable reasons.

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  2. Honestly, George Fisher is from Cannibal Corpse. What the hell did everyone expect? Seriously?

    I know that's not an excuse, and it shouldn't be, but when most of your music concerns rape, torture, murder and all sorts of despicable, hateful topics, odds are, you don't have a very good filter in regards to despicable, hateful words and actions.

    Yes, it was terrible to say, but when you put it all in perspective, someone should have expected it and it should have been dealt with prior. This is an example of poor forethought, pure and simple.

    In regards to the LBGT guild thing, I understand where Blizzard is coming from. Sure, everyone might seem liberal and open minded to an extent, but a lot of people could have been offended by such a thing, mostly due to the basic human fear of anything alien to our expectations. Someone could have gotten frustrated about something, said any number of "anti-gay" phraseology that, in all intents and purposes, considering the state of the current zeitgeist, has become slang for "stupid" or "bad", I mean, seriously, these words get thrown around in WoW like things that get thrown around a lot. It would probably get to the point of bannings, or players quitting the game and cancelling their subscriptions in protest of this sort of thing, which means less money for Blizzard. And that's bad. I mean, you have to understand that some people are just ridiculous when it comes to their expectations of what other people are capable of, not only in their play style, but also how socially acceptable their language is. I've gotten kicked out of a guild that I assumed was casual because I called myself a retard and certain rules were put in place to reduce the consternation of the guild leader in that regard, which caused 10 other players to leave. And that was just a local example, imagine on the wider scale, where 200-500 people are on a server a day, and they see something that, right or wrong, offends them regularly, something is going to be done about it. And in a typical logic based, economically grounded fashion, they took care of it by going down the path of least resistance.

    I don't think for a minute that Blizzard is homophobic, but they are looking out for their pocketbooks first and foremost. It may be a shitty thing to do in a social perspective, but I doubt they really care because they don't pay attention to the social perspective when it comes to profits, as they are a business, and that's what businesses do. Logically, what they did makes sense. Socially, which I don't know why folks still expect tact when money and corporations are involved. Because that's what PR is for, and it looks like it worked.

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