The Queue: Let’s talk about it
Alright, let’s talk about it.
By “it” of course I mean the pending lawsuit against Activision Blizzard by the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. I’m not going to go too far into the details of the case here, but as a warning, if that sort of thing upsets you, or you don’t feel like you can handle more words about workplace harassment — I get it, I well and truly get it. Please don’t force yourself to be here, take the day off, look at puppies or cats, or whatever makes you happy, and just know that your feelings are valid and I wish you all the best and we hope to see you again in the future.
In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be doing this, we’d all be talking about the latest secrets in the Maw and whether or not the rares there drop Archivist research tokens — they don’t, sorry Kal — but here we are.
This is important and as such I’m treating it with the respect and gravitas that it deserves.
Anyone else just feel numb? The recent(?) “unpleasantness” is paradoxically both shocking and unsurprising. I’ve been debating weather to unsub, or just ride it out.
I still enjoy the game, and raiding with my guild, and I’m curious to see where the story is going to go. I know that many of the devs that work on the game are just as upset by the news as me, and I have heard rumors of discontent and considerations of resigning.
However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of “ick” when doing Korthia and a Torgahst run (I did Torghast on 10 instead of trying to push 12 just to make it go quicker, and got a “Flawless” run). I logged off to play something else
Q4tQ: Can we and should we separate art from the artist? Is it different when the art is coming from a corporation and created by many hands? What about in the case of subscriptions? Is it morally wrong to continue putting money toward the company? I’ve resolved not to buy D2:R, D4, or OW2 until real change is proven; penance paid. Would continuing with a WoW sub express tacit approval or indifference to the conduct?
I’m not even sure there are clear lines to be drawn. And I lament the loss of the community that will result from this, and the fact that there likely isn’t anything Blizzard can do to draw them back. So many friends gone, so much more empty space. All things are unto dust, but still humbling when such a state is advanced.
Writing anything about Warcraft has been tough these last couple of days. I have at least two things I should be writing — and don’t get mad at me Liz, but they might be a day or two later than I was hoping. How are we supposed to engage with the games that we play to escape when we know the very real-world consequences of what went on while people were making them?
This is something that has been at the crux of so many discussions the last few days in fandom spaces. We’ve seen content creators like Taliesin and Evitel or Hazlenutty wrestle with what this means for themselves going forward. You saw Blizzard Watch go dark on Thursday of last week after posting our piece about the lawsuit. Hearthstone creators have been delaying their planned card reveals out of solidarity to the victims and to show their displeasure with Activision Blizzard as a whole.
For everyone, their response to the age-old separating the creator from the work problem will be different. I think you are right when bringing up that Activision Blizzard isn’t a monolith. There isn’t one all-powerful person that has been creating these games for years, and it’s not the brainchild of just one person who is making royalties off of them.
These are all the products of hundreds if not thousands of hard-working, passionate individuals who’ve done some of the best work of their lives. The very same marginalized creators who’ve been kept down and harassed every step of the way by the “frat boy” culture are still doing work that they’re proud of.
To say this situation is unfair to them is an understatement.
I think that it’s up to you individually to decide how to spend your money with Blizzard, and engage with their services going forward. If you want to uninstall and cancel everything — that is 100% valid! If you want to continue your subscriptions knowing that yeah there are trash people working there, but there are also a lot of wonderfully talented people who are just trying to make a living and they didn’t ask for any of this garbage? Yeah, that’s valid too. I know that there are people working at Activision Blizzard right now who are doing what they can to change things for the better. The process will be slow, but I really hope they succeed.
Fixing things will also be different for everyone, but I know that I’d like to see some hard looks into their hiring practices focusing on diversity and inclusion. Not only who they’re inviting for interviews, but why there are so few Black people employed there. I’d like to see the people who are writing all of these apology posts work with the State of California to strengthen the case against the company. I’d like to see a world where the friends I’ve made at Blizzard aren’t worried about speaking up about their abusers, and whether or not they’ll be retaliated against or fired. Because it’s hard out there right now and California is an expensive state to live in. Just leaving a job like that isn’t always the answer when you need health insurance and rent money — to say nothing about potential burned bridges preventing you from getting another job in the field.
At the end of the day, I’m as tired as everyone else is. This problem isn’t limited to just one company or one industry. We all need to be doing better about speaking up for the people in our lives that are being marginalized and harassed.
Finally, don’t use this situation to attack someone else for their decision whether or not to keep playing/streaming/writing about/working at Activision Blizzard. You don’t know their situation, you don’t know why they’re staying or leaving, and only your decision matters at the end of the day.
Q4tQ: What is your stance in replacing problematically named NPCs, and any ideas what their replacement name should be? Field Marshal Stickney has a nice ring to it.
Absolutely replace them. Just do it. We’re not even talking about something as difficult as replacing statues. I’m not sure how long it’d take someone to make those changes because I’m not working on Warcraft — and unless you are working Warcraft you don’t either — but I hope that we see someone take the time to change them.
There’s no great historical import to these characters and items, all that’s accomplished by leaving them in the game is that the people who were harassed by him know he’s still there until the servers come offline for the last time. I don’t even want some cutesy reference to why they’re not the same person anymore, just rename things and let them fade away.
To be clear, I’d still be advocating these changes even if the NPC was a prominent one. No fake character in a video game should be worth more than someone else’s real-life feelings.
Q4tQ: In light of what has happened regarding Blizzard this week I’ve been thinking of a way to show some meaningful support. What do you think about everyone taking a day off from playing any type of video game?
I feel it would give people a sense of empowerment and to show the game companies that these are issues that the players take seriously. The companies could eve get involved. They could show what they’re doing company wide to create change. Employees could show what they’re doing within their company to foster change. My only question is what to call it. Do you having any suggestions?
Well, the Oribos sit-in that was organized on Thursday by the guild Fence Macabre has been raising money all weekend. I’m not sure how long their fundraising page will stay open, but at the time of writing, they were already over $12,000 raised for Black Girls CODE. Maybe they’ll hit $20,000 by the time the weekend is over!
There’s also the event that is currently being organized by streamer DesMephisto, details are scarce right now as it’s in the early days of planning, but he has an excellent track record for raising money for good causes in the gaming community.
I’m sure there are more and will be more. I wish I had an answer that would be a lightning bolt of inspiration where we could all say, “of course! It’s so easy, we’ll just do X.” Until someone around here comes up with a lightning bolt idea like that, I’d say — give where you can and try to help signal boost any causes you do see if you can’t.
That’s me for the week. I won’t end today with the usual Anna Earworm just because it feels too frivolous to come after all of that. So I’ll just say that I hope you all can be excellent to each other, and try to leave Red some nice easy questions for his Queue tomorrow.
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