I had finally broken down and ordered World of Warcraft to check out the social dynamics. I still detest gaming but i decided that i wanted to know what is going on. And then the news broke that Blizzard bans (advertising) queer safe space (on WoW) on the basis of it being sexual harassment. Even though i agreed to check out WoW, i cannot support an organization that discriminates on the basis of sexuality, especially when it’s for idle curiosity. I will be returning my game to Amazon once it arrives and i will not be joining WoW.
I’ve already heard on numerous occasions that there is intense homophobia within the chatrooms on WoW and this had already made me quite uncomfortable. But Blizzard’s response is just disgusting. How can they call a queer-friendly guild sexual harassment given that this is an attempt by the queer community to create space? Furthermore, there’s so much sexism in the chats (aside from the creatures) that no one from Blizzard can actually argue that they are preventing sexual harassment. I can’t help but wonder about the state of other forms of discrimination and prejudice within the system (particularly since “race” is critical to the narrative of WoW). That said, i don’t care enough to find out – i can’t justify spending personal money on a company with these values.
This is a nice little reminder that most gaming companies are not actually progressive in any way shape or form. I respect the importance that gaming has had in youth culture (and for adults for that matter) but it still pains me to watch systematized prejudice executed in code and culture. Yuck yuck yuck.
Update: Jason Kuznicki has a fantastic Open Letter to Blizzard Entertainment that does a much better job than i do addressing this issue. As has been noted over and over again, queerness is an identity not just a set of sexual practices. By silencing people’s identities and not allowing people to have bigot-free spaces, Blizzard is upholding a level of discrimination that far outweighs the _potential_ sexual harassment that might occur if people’s sexualities were known.