Apparently (it says a lot about Blizzard’s continued relevance to my world), back in October, Blizzard aired a long homophobic rant at Blizzcon. (No, it wasn’t bleeped at the actual con. EDIT: Or at least so some bloggers claimed.) Then there was a sort of half-baked apology. Eventually they posted an actual apology.
What amazes me is that people appear to believe the apology.
This is not the kind of thing that happens at companies that actually care about these issues. The problem here isn’t that they didn’t think about it enough; it’s that it would require them to consciously think about it to determine that a long rant full of slurs against gays would maybe offend someone.
They don’t care. They have never cared. Look at all the Real ID drama; note that they never, ever, acknowledged that maybe there was an issue. That’s because the bulk of the really bad side-effects hit queers of various sorts; trans people, gays, other people like that. Blizzard gives no fucks.
I’ve never seen any evidence that there was a point at which they cared about that set of people. Like many companies with an online gaming presence, Blizzard has made its money off an endless stream of gay-bashing teens.
A while back, it was observed that at this point, every adult who might realistically play WoW has played it. The only way for them to get new people to play their game is to target kids who haven’t yet really gotten into games. And that’s a market full of teenage boys who consider “gay” an insult and gay-bashing a necessary part of proving that you’re a mature adult. And that’s the market they have to pursue, and pursue it they do.
I think this is actually a dumb strategy, and their loss of subscriptions supports my belief. I think they are ignoring the people who leave over their ever more abusive disregard for some of their players. Not that many gay or trans people still play WoW, but the fact is, a lot of adults have gotten to know other adults and have learned about this stuff — and they tend to find it uncomfortable. So they leave. And Blizzard’s laser-like focus on the question “will a person play the game who didn’t yesterday” has blinded them to the question “how many people are leaving over this crap”.
But seriously. If you’re still paying Activision-Blizzard money, the fact is, you’re rewarding them for telling everyone that they need to be told that gay-bashing could possibly annoy people, and that they just think it’s funny. You’re rewarding them for doing this over and over, for building policies that might as well have been designed to exclude gay and trans people, for acting like this whole concept is a bright new surprise every time, and for never even considering doing something about the gay-bashing in their games.
I really do not get why people are discussing Blizzard’s “apologies” as though they had semantic content other than “we were not done with your money yet”. They have not actually fixed or addressed any problems. They have not acquired any staff who, upon hearing a gay-bashing rant, will say “hey, guys, I don’t think that’s appropriate”.
I’d say it’s depressing, but really, it’s not new. We already knew this.
And yeah, if it had only been once, and they’d apologized, and then things had changed, I might totally think they were sincere. But not after the last couple of years, no.