Every time I’m tempted to pick up World of Warcraft again…

…something like this occurs that makes me question whether or not I want to give money to Blizzard. Early on, the bnetd issue. Last time it was their invasive anti-cheating measures. This time, I haven’t gotten a handle on their policies against advertising for a gay-friendly guild.

Slashdot | Gay Guild Recruitment Disallowed From WoW?

In Newsweekly -.- Gaming -.- Blizzard of GLBT gaming policy questions

Boing Boing: World of Warcraft: Don’t tell anyone you’re queer

A few issues. First, some respond in a way that ignores the problem; that you’ve agreed to a EULA so you have to do what Blizzard says. Of course, that’s not entirely true. EULAs are not necessarily valid forms of contract in whole or in part; and different parts may be enforced differently in various jurisdictions. Again, though, that’s ignoring a problem. Blizzard offers a service, so at some point they are accountable to the users of their service.

Do I think this is bad? Yes, for a variety of reasons. From a game-play perspective, one of their goals is immersion, particularly on the servers that have been designated as RPG servers. Should people not RP that they’re gay, then, because they might be harrassed? Is harrassment itself in character? Where do they draw the line?

Do they allow advertising for the Christian guilds that I’ve been reading about? Wouldn’t that also invite harrassment?

Isn’t harrassment punishable by suspension? Then why aren’t they suspending the harrassers rather then not allowing the advertisement in the first place?

I don’t know. Is Blizzard more likely to listen to people when they no longer give them money, or when they are paying customers? When they leave, or when they return? I don’t have a good answer for this. I can make arguments either way.

You don’t have freedom of speech when using a private corporation’s resources. There is no “public space,” as much as they might want us to feel like we’re in a public space. At some points, like this one, the perception and the reality of the situation collides. I firmly believe that the cure for “bad speech” is more speech, not the restriction of speech.

Of course, this problem hasn’t been resolved in the “real” world, either. This makes the issue… well… realistic. Unsurprising.

Ultimately, Blizzard will need to clarify it’s policies and act consistently in the enforcement of those policies.

Edit: Well, we did it- Holly and I are back. Utopian Hell and Iconochron have good discussions about the subject in their comments.


  1. Vince Kelly said,

    July 2, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

    Oh come on! Seriously…can you guys find a better example of institutional arrogance? WoW is supposed a FUN game. What are they doing trying to make a political statement?

  2. Esteban said,

    September 12, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

    Wow is just a game…a fun one.
    If you start to feeling that a evil corporation is behind, then simply choose other RPG, there are hundred of good ones out there 🙂

  3. Stephanie said,

    May 12, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

    I seriously don’t think the offensive players care if someone is gay or not. If it stokes them to offend some one they are going to do it however and whenever they please.

    Telling someone “hey don’t post this players won’t like you” is stupid. The offensive players will just attack a player from another standpoint.

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