So! I thought I’d let this slip by my blog, since absolutely anybody who’s anybody has been blogging about it. But I can’t help myself!! So if you have a worthy life (off-screen ofcourse) here’s the skinny!
Sara Andrews was flagged by Blizzard for posting: “OZ[the name of her guild] is recruiting all levels : We are not ‘GLBT only,’ but we are ‘GLBT friendly'”, at a general chat channel within World of Warcraft. After writing to Blizzard presuming that it was just a mistake, she received the following:
- “While we appreciate and understand your point of view, we do feel that the advertisement of a ‘GLBT friendly’ guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise. If you will look at our policy, you will notice the suggested penalty for violating the Sexual Orientation Harassment Policy is to ‘be temporarily suspended from the game.’ However, as there was clearly no malicious intent on your part, this penalty was reduced to a warning.”
I suppose I kinda understand where Blizzard’s coming from. Guardian Gamesblog has a quote from someone called prd from the Gaymer.org forum, who stumbled onto some obscene chat involving the words gay and faggot while playing. She (I think) further goes on to say:
- “I emailed Blizzard and asked them to do something, Blizzard’s response was “just Ignore em, they’ll go away”, riiiiiiiight, like that’s ever worked with a gay basher”
Exactly!! Blizzard doesn’t have enough resources to deal with this stuff. Which, I suppose is why they’re discouraging such ‘labels’ (for the lack of a better word).
I’m discouraged by the response this case has received. The argument that keeps echoing in the blogosphere is that if gamers are allowed to verbally gay bash in chat why the hell shouldn’t a guild be allowed to have a ‘GLBT friendly’ tag? Which I suppose is a fair point. But, in my opinion the issue goes way beyond this! The answer is DEFINATELY NOT to encourage Blizzard to get more involved with chat censorship! I mean, seriously….they’ve already proved they have no sense of fairness on such things! This is just the perfect example that the customer service governance model just ain’t working!!! 5.5 million players! Seriously!
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing nails it when he writes:
- “But real life has one gigantic advantage over gamelife. In real life, you can be a citizen with rights. In gamelife, you’re a customer with a license agreement. In real life, if a cop or a judge just makes up a nonsensical or capricious interpretation of the law, you can demand an appeal. In gamelife, you can cancel your contract, or suck it up.
- Will a game ever give players citizenship instead of just customership? Will players always be willing to treat games as their online homes if they have to rely on customer service ethos instead of the Constitution to assure them a fair shake?”
Ahhhh…doesn’t the truth have such a wonderful ring to it?! Because this is the issue here! It’s really time for Blizzard to let WoW players take some matters in their own hands. Which I suppose is what Andrews was trying to do in the first place, but all Blizzard saw was the tremendous amounts of e-mail complaints this would intice…and they just knew they wouldn’t be able to deal with it, which is just TOO TRUE! So let go already! Let the players deal with this in their own way!
So…to sum up! Let’s not let this turn into a “well if you’re going to censor that, you should also be censoring this” discussion but rather a “Blizzard! Wake up and smell the coffee! You can’t handle the world you’ve created with customer service! The only way around this is giving some power to the people!” argument!
How? Well…you know…if I had all the answers in the world?! But I definately feel that a step in the right direction would be to put a ‘GLBT friendly’ tag on as many things as possible in WoW and show them who’s really in charge! Demonstrate, revolt!! Oh dear! I’m getting carried away now aren’t I! Don’t write to Blizzard do all this in-game!