It appears that a number of Blizzard employees are protesting against the company's decision to ban a professional Hearthstone player for expressing their support for Hong Kong's ongoing pro-autonomy protests. Some have reportedly covered two of the company's supposed core values cast in bronze in a sculpture outside the headquarters, "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters". It seems later gathered in support of the statue, with umbrellas, a symbol of the protests.
Blizzard banned player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai for one year and canceled their prize money to say "liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time!" In a post-match interview Sunday. They pointed to the section of the rulebook that prohibits "any act that, in Blizzard's sole discretion, brings you into public contradiction, offends part or group of audience, or otherwise damages the Blizzard image." They also cut ties with the two of the match commentators.
Hong Kong is part of China, but is governed by autonomy, which often causes friction with the mainland. The latest series of protests was triggered by a proposed extradition law that many feared would give China too much power over Hong Kong. It is said that over a million people attended some rallies. The protests have been met with violent opposition from the police, and it even sparked further protests. This is a short BBC primer if you want it.
China frowns heavily on people and companies supporting the protests. Just last week, an NBA basketball team manager tweeted support for protesters, and in response, state TV channels said they would stop broadcasting games. Blizzard probably fears similar reprisals against their own games and sporting endeavors.
Obviously not everyone is at Blizzard. Former Blizzard esports boy Kevin Hovdestad tweeted yesterday that some Blizzardeers (very polite) have taken the company's public value statement on a statue outside the headquarters. The statue, produced in China, depicts a wolf-running Orc warrior surrounded by a compass declaring Blizzard's eight "core company values."
While Hovdestad does not say who is responsible (for obvious reasons), I would trust on him as a source considering he worked there.
The core values covered yesterday are in their entirety:
Every voice means something
Big ideas can come anywhere. Blizzard Entertainment is what it is today because of the voices of our players and every member of the company. Each employee is encouraged to speak, listen, respect other opinions and embrace criticism as just another opportunity for good ideas.
Everywhere on the planet, people are playing Blizzard Entertainment games. While respecting the cultural diversity that makes people unique, we try to grow and support our global gaming community. We also seek the most passionate, talented people in the world to enrich our company and help us forge Blizzard Entertainment's vision for the future.
Later in the day, a pseudonymous Reddit user who claims to be a Blizzard employee (known simply as "Standingwhk") posted a photo they said was of "Blizzard employees who stood with [Hong Kong]". shows two dozen people, several with umbrellas, gathered by the Orc statue, umbrellas are a symbol of Hong Kong resistance movements, and have started as a tool to protect against police pepper spray.
Although I can't verify the identity of the Reddit poster or the assembled people, so clearly Blizzard's wolf and one compass point are visibly covered in paper.
The Guardian reports that Blitzchung is standing by his words.
"I have no regrets that I said that And even now I don't regret it at all, "Blitzchung said. He said it was" a shame "to face this after four years in digital sports.
" I sacrificed time to hang out with my friends and study because of this competition. Although it seemed like I had wasted four years, I have something more important in my heart – if we lose the movement, Hong Kong will end forever. "
The players have protested Blizzard's response. A team at Hearthstone's official collegiate championship yesterday held up a sign supporting Hong Kong protesters asking for a boycott of Blizzard. The company seems to have wiped this out of its stream archives, but hey, this is the Internet so (thanks to fast backers) we can still see it here:
I'm sure this isn't the end of things.