Blizzard has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the Taiwanese branch of the gaming behemoth banned an esports player for livestreaming his political opinion online.
Since then, Blizzard has come under near-constant fire for many reasons, with lots of people calling out the company’s terms of service, and expressing outrage at some of the penalties that have been handed out to players.
Recently, news that a guild named “GAY BOYS,” which consisted of gay players, had been subject to a forced name change surfaced, and now another player with a similar story has stepped forward.
A World of Warcraft Classic player who goes by the name of Cogblast approached GameByte to talk about inconsistencies within the community guidelines of the game, and how it negatively affected himself and his guild.
Responding to GameByte’s article on the GAY BOYS controversy, Cogblast reached out to tell me about his own experiences with Blizzard, explaining how the company forced a name-change on his guild, not once, but twice.
“[Blizzard] did the same thing to my WoW Classic guild ‘Make Azeroth Great Again,’ which was just a tongue-in-cheek name for what was really just a social guild. We got it changed back, and then twelve hours later it was force-changed again,” he explained.
Providing me with screenshots of his emails from Blizzard, the company said at the time: “Make Azeroth Great Again was permanently renamed, or is going to be renamed.
“Violation: Inappropriate Name. Your fellow players reported your in-game name as inappropriate multiple times. Due to these player reports we have renamed your World of Warcraft Guild.”
Cogblast then shared with me another email, this time from a Blizzard Game Master who agreed that the name should not have been changed. The Game Master explained in the email: “I took a look here and I am very sorry this happened. I fixed your name and removed the penalty from your account here.
“You are correct that the name does not break our [Terms of Service].”
That wasn’t the end of the issue though, as just a short time later Blizzard forcibly changed the guild’s name once again.
Explaining what happened, Cogblast told me: “[A Blizzard rep] contacted me in-game [and] he basically told me that the name was not ‘RP friendly,’ and that this standard was at least partially based on the opinions of the server.
“It was just meant to be a fun theme that allowed us to flex our creativity while joking around with each other.”
Although Make Azeroth Great Again did parody some of the Republican party’s sentiments within WoW, Cogblast explained to me that this was absolutely not the focus of the guild.
“This was on a server designated ‘RP-PVP.’ This means that the server focuses on roleplaying and player versus player combat. My guild recruitment messages were satirical parodies of Republican talking points using the in-game lore in place of real places and peoples.
“For instance, instead of promising a southern border wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, we would promise a northern border wall to keep out the neighbouring troll civilisation. Trolls are playable, and Blizzard routinely makes references to real people using all of the available playable races, so this was never meant to be a slight against anybody.”
Despite its name, Cogblast assured me that the political views of a player had no bearing on their inclusion, saying: “I do want to make clear that while the bulk of the original members of ‘Make Azeroth Great Again’ are conservative, it was never a requirement for the guild,
“We even kicked out several members that were too aggressive with their right-wing politics, because the guild was a social guild and we welcomed all sorts, so political arguments from either side were not allowed.”
The whole fiasco has made a big impact on Cogblast, who says that he’s now stopped playing World of Warcraft Classic because of the inconsistencies in Blizzard’s stance on politics, satire and their Terms of Service.
“I’ve since quit playing WoW Classic, for now at least, in large part thanks to this stupid scandal. When I was playing on that server we were the only guild not specifically dedicated to RP that was recruiting without breaking character, and yet it was deemed ‘not RP friendly,’ which largely is typically meant to be like saying ‘not lore friendly’.
“It’s really crazy to think that even obliquely referencing support for the president through satire is too political in a game where historically you could do almost anything with guild names as long as it wasn’t outright racist or something.”
GameByte has reached out to Blizzard for comment.
Featured Image Credit: Blizzard