Gamers for Freedom website features scorecard showing which game companies have pledged to stand for free speech
Digital rights group Fight for the Future––known for organizing massive protests against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance––is teaming up with gamers, redditors, and Internet freedom activists to call for a protest at Activision-Blizzard’s annual conference, BlizzCon, which starts November 1st in Anaheim, CA and attracts tens of thousands of gamers from all over the world.
The protest is part of the GamersForFreedom.com campaign that Fight for the Future unveiled yesterday, which features a scorecard to keep track of which companies have publicly pledged to not censor players the way Blizzard did, and which companies may already be caving to pressure from authoritarian governments.
"This is not going away," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/her), "Blizzard, and other companies who are engaging in censorship on behalf of an authoritarian government, are not going to get away with it. They have no idea what kind of Internet shitstorm they’ve unleashed. We’re going to make an example out of them to make sure that all companies know that throwing human rights and free expression under the bus to make some extra money will not be tolerated."
Like many others in the tech and gaming worlds, we were extremely disappointed to learn that Blizzard banned a professional gamer and confiscated his tournament winnings because he advocated for his own political freedom. But we’ve been encouraged to see the immediate, widespread public backlash. And some game companies — such as Epic and Immutable — have made public pledges to never ban or punish their players for speaking about politics and human rights.
Dayton Young, Product Director at Fight for the Future, (pronouns he/him), added: "Gamers deserve to know which companies are willing to engage in censorship on behalf of authoritarian regimes and which companies will defend basic freedom of expression. Blizzard has engaged in blatant censorship and should immediately reverse its decision to ban Ng Wai Chung, restore his tournament winnings, and repair its relationships with the livestream casters. No gamers should be punished for expressing their views on politics and human rights. And no game company should ever ban or penalize players for advocating for their own political freedom. We call on all game developers and publishers to make a public commitment to support the rights of their customers, employees, and fans to freely express their beliefs in America, in Hong Kong, in China, and around the globe."
Fight for the Future is coordinating with gamers and activists in a Discord channel and across social media, where game fans from around the world have been voicing their outrage at Blizzard and planning their own creative protests for BlizzCon. More updates to come.