Blizzard Punishes Pro-Hong Kong ‘Hearthstone’ Player

It’s a shame that gamers more than most need this reminder, but censorship isn’t when a developer decides that their playable characters should be more diverse. Censorship is when a repressive government crackdowns on free expression. So if you want to be mad at Blizzard, don’t get upset about Diablo on mobile or whatever. Get upset when the Activision conglomerate unfairly punishes a pro Hearthstone player for daring to voice his pro-democratic political opinion.

If you’ve been following non-gaming news, you might already know that waves of protest have sprung up all across Hong Kong lately. Citizens are demanding their freedom and challenging local cops and politicians as China attempts to tighten its grip on the region and its historically unique political circumstances.

One supporter of the protests is pro Hearthstone player and masked Hong Kong native Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai. And at the end of a recent stream for the popular digital card game, as reported by Kotaku, he voiced that protest by saying “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” Inspiring stuff.

Unfortunately, Blizzard didn’t feel so revolutionary. They rescinded Blitzchung’s Grandmasters prize money and banned him from Hearthstone competition for a year. Even the casters, who made sure to leave the frame during this moment, were also still excommunicated by Blizzard.

Blizzard’s official explanation is that Blitzchung violated a rule and that’s it. Of course this wonderful company supports free expression. But come on. China is a huge esports market, and publishers need to maintain a good relationship with the Chinese government to maintain their foothold. Shareholders unfortunately care way more about money than a free Hong Kong.

For more on China’s authoritarianism (we didn’t even get into their impact on movies and sports) learn why this Taiwanese horror game got taken down and check out this fake apology to China from the South Park creators.

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