Published: Wed, October 09, 2019
Tech | By

Pro-gamer stripped of prize money for supporting Hong Kong protests

Pro-gamer stripped of prize money for supporting Hong Kong protests

US video gaming company Blizzard Entertainment has suspended a Hong Kong-based player for expressing support for the ongoing pro-democracy protests in the city, the latest example of a foreign company curbing free speech in an attempt to appease the Chinese communist regime.

Blizzard has imposed harsh sanctions against a professional Hearthstone player after he expressed support for Hong Kong protesters in their ongoing fight for liberation from the Chinese government.

"Grandmasters is the highest tier of Hearthstone Esports and we take tournament rule violations very seriously", Blizzard wrote.

The Blizzard incident began when Ng - dressed in a gas mask and goggles in defiance of authorities' ban on face masks - used the phrase "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!" during a post-match interview.

The rule in question involved "engaging" in an act that "in Blizzard's sole discretion" brings into "public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public or otherwise damages" Blizzard's image.

A few hours after the event, Blizzard announced in a statement that while it supported free speech, players agree to abide by esports' competition official rules.

Blizzard's decision may also not make poor financial sense: China accounts for less than 10 per cent of its revenue, whereas the U.S. accounts for more than half of its money.

Blizzard, a subsidiary of S&P 500 company Activision, also banned the commentators who conducted the interview, despite neither expressing agreement with Chung's sentiments.

Ng said he was not surprised at being kicked out of the competition, but said on Tuesday: 'I don't regret saying that stuff.

Blizzard's decision to shut down voices within its own community has been roundly criticised by the gaming and development community, with the #Blizzardboycott hashtag trending on social media.

Hearthstone is not the only piece of pop culture embroiled in Chinese political controversy.

Parker and Stone issued a fake apology after the program was removed in China, saying, "Like the National Basketball Association, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts".

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the animated show, responded to the ban with a faux apology. As Vox points out, these sanctions signify that "Blizzard is not merely trying to operate within the confines of Chinese censorship but acting as its agent". Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday. Apple Inc. was blasted by the Communist Party's flagship newspaper for carrying an app and song embraced by the movement. "May this autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful". NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has since said it supported Morey's freedom of expression, adding that it was not up to the league to regulate what players, employees, and team owners say.

Tech giant Tencent and Chinese state television said they wouldn't broadcast Rockets games. Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

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