I found this article to be fascinating reading, and Blizzard’s reaction (or at least what’s being portrayed here as Blizzard’s reaction) to be troubling. News flash: online gaming has a social component. and will inevitably bump into some social issues. I’m sure someone will no doubt be saying “But it’s a video game, and anyone signing on to play it should know that it’s almost certainly going to be a testosterone-fest for that very reason.” (I’m assuming that anyone who would say such a thing has never ever heard of The Sims.) Online games which breed communities will have to deal with this sort of thing sooner or later, and by silencing one group trying to provide a safe gaming haven for gay, bi or transgendered gamers within World Of Warcraft, Blizzard has, intentionally or not, implicitly given its sanction to those who would harrass them. It really demands the question “So what’s the message here?” Hopefully Blizzard can be given the benefit of the doubt and will rethink this, and hopefully they just got caught flat-footed on an issue they weren’t expecting to address. And before anyone gets on my case about liberalizing the electronic landscape, take the following into account, an issue uber-conservatives should love: if, as has been charged so many times in recent years, video games are responsible for the decline of our society and for turning kids into killers, shouldn’t we be trying to police this better in order to prevent online harrassment that could lead to real violence…even if it’s in a game about hacking and slashing orcs?
Some sadistic part of me wonders why they’re banning any political or other select stripes of social interaction within the game. Just think about it. I’d rather have people who can’t let their political/social/religious differences drop beating each other up in the virtual realm rather than doing their worst to each other in real life. That way I could keep on not playing Warcraft and the real world would be a much nicer place. 😛
Overall, though, I think the heart of the matter boils down to something very simple: