Dallas Fuel assistant coach Justin “Jayne” Conroy claims he has been ordered to take down tweets critical of Blizzard’s handling of the Hong Kong incident Jayne declined further comment. Activision Blizzard and Envy Gaming, owners of Overwatch League franchise Dallas Fuel, did not immediately respond to request for comment. The Hong Kong tweet he was allegedly ordered to delete has been preserved by other users, and is making the rounds, you can find it below. It’s unclear who exactly ordered the removal, but it’s no doubt going to stire up controversy.
Blizzard took to the stage during BlizzCon 2019, and was upfront with viewers and fans, explaining their rationale behind the controversial punishment of Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, with President J. Allen Brack explaining that the company had to take a stand. Speaking to a justification for the banning in the context of its interviews Blizzard said, “They would become times for people to make a statement about whatever they wanted to, on whatever issue. That’s just a path that we don’t want to go down. We really want the content of those official broadcasts to be focused on the games, and keep that focus,” Blizzard added that the two casters had a responsibility to keep the stream focused on said game, and since they failed in that, were handed six month suspensions. Blitzchung moved over to a new team, Tempo Storm, as support continues to mount online for reversing the punishment.
Blizzard should ban political speech from its interviews, the outcome can only end badly if they don’t; if Blitzchung had walked onto the stream wearing a Nazi uniform, no one would question the decision to ban him. But because the was able to tie his political statement into the old American stalwart of “freedom and democracy”, the nationalistic fervor that we see now in response to his banning is the result. Keep in mind that “freedom and democracy” is a common catch-all statement for justifying wars and intervention on behalf of the American political machine. How many countries have to feel the sting of CIA intervention or a direct US invasion before people recognize the body count hidden behind those words in this context? The US has made it blatantly clear that they’re using the Hong Kong protests for their own means, yet people continue to fall in line with their chosen narrative. But they targeted gamers, so it’s OK that we’re just towing that bloody line apparently.
The reality of the political aspect of this issue hasn’t swayed people from trying to blame the Chinese companies involved in a strange projection of anti-China sentiment. And even if the sentence for this instance was harsh, it has to set a precedent. But much like the controversial banning of a Fortnite cheater is also being argued to be commuted, the argument in this case does’t really make much sense when compared to the justification for said sanctions.
PC Gamer asked if Blizzard’s commercial connections in China had any influence on the choice. ‘”Was NetEase [the company’s Chinese partner] in conversation around this issue? They were, certainly. As were the [Blizzard] Taiwan team, as was the Hearthstone leadership team, as was the esports team. All those various constituencies came together and one of the things that we said was we acted very rapidly and we acted very quickly”, although they acknowledge that the response could have been clearer. As to Blitz, Blizzard will not be reducing his punishment anytime soon.