Thanks Blizzard: Riot Games Forced To Let Everyone Know They're Allowed To Use Hong Kong's LoL Team's Name

from the riot-riot-riot dept

The fallout from Blizzard's heavy-handed move on a professional Hearthstone player for voicing support for the ongoing Hong Kong protests on a livestream, which included ripping away prize money and issuing a 1 year ban on competing, continues to blaze. But while most of the backlash has been directed solely at Blizzard, the company's actions are having a ripple effect across the eSports landscape.

Depressingly, plenty of folks in the eSports industry are clearly frightened that they might accidentally cross some undefined line with gaming companies and find themselves on the losing end of an international public relations argument. One lovely example of this is Riot Games' League of Legends competitions and streams. There appear to be plenty of folks out there that are self-censoring mentions of Hong Kong to ridiculous levels, including attempts to avoid saying the name of a LoL team, the Hong Kong Attitude.

With all the protests going on in Hong Kong, League of Legends casters appear to be avoiding saying the team name “Hong Kong Attitude” and seem to even be catching themselves when they do. Riot Games, however, says that it has not banned casters from saying “Hong Kong.”

Chinese conglomerate Tencent owns Riot and has a stake in Blizzard.

It may be that last detail that has so many streamers spooked. Still, this all reached enough of a fever pitch that Riot Games decided to put out several statements clarifying that its streamers can in fact refer to a League of Legends team and, tangentially, use the name of one of the more populous cities on the planet. The fact that it had to do this at all is fairly crazy, but the detail here really drives that point home.


Again, this is crazy. A sentence that consists of "We aren't telling anyone to avoid saying 'Hong Kong'" shows just how effective Beijing's campaign of weaponized offense-taking has become. The entire point of the Chinese government's actions is to keep the Hong Kong protests out of the mouths of those that might be listened to. For this to morph into some of those people censoring themselves into not even mentioning the city's name for a competition that has an entrant from that city must feel like all of Xi Jinping's birthdays and Christmases came at once.

It is now long, long past time for these gaming companies, regardless of minority ownership stakes, to come out in support for the free expression of their employees and affiliates.

Filed Under: chilling effects, china, esports, free speech, heathstone, hong kong, hong kong attitude, league of legends
Companies: blizzard, riot games, tencent


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Oct 2019 @ 12:19pm

    Relevant:

    “You can't have an apolitical response to a political statement. … Companies love to have their cake and fuck it, too. This is why so many game developers say that their games aren't political, even while exploiting political imagery and messaging. This is why so many corporations want to ‘leave politics at the door’ while making money from despotic regimes — why WWE will gladly take blood money from Saudi Arabia to perform shows for the benefit of murderous despots, but no longer has the fucking spine to even say ‘Saudi Arabia’ on its western broadcasts. Companies are terrified of making statements, without realizing that that terror is, itself, a statement.” — “Thank God For” Jim Sterling

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2019 @ 1:30pm

    So it's fine to mention Hong Kong but notice how they implicitly said nothing about the protests. They're effectively saying not to mention the protests without actually saying it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2019 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      Time to create a LoL team called "Hong Kong Protests" Whether they win or lose in competition, it'll make a statement.

      If LoL won't allow anyone to create a team by that name... call it the Masked Umbrella Carriers instead.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2019 @ 1:48pm

    You either have freedom of speech or you don't. If you "self censor" because of the "damage" you might do to your Chinese business aspirations, you are part of the fucking problem. Grow a spine, say "FUCK YOU, CHINA" and stand behind the protesters in Hong Kong! If you allow "business" to dictate what you can and cannot say in AMERICA, then we have already lost!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 15 Oct 2019 @ 2:26pm

    This is Capitalism at it's finest. When money says it's profitable to bow to a "communist" regime they'll likely do it. And people worshiping this broken system are the same that foam through the mouth when people like Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders try to level the playing field.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2019 @ 12:37am

    Can you say "Riot?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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