This gamer was suspended by Blizzard Entertainment for speaking out

CBC Kids News • Published 2019-10-10 15:27
UPDATE: On Oct. 12, Blizzard Entertainment's president J.Allen Brack issued a statement about blitzchung's suspension, saying the company "reacted too quickly." He said Blizzard's relationship with China did not influence the decision, but there are rules in place "to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to benefit a global audience." He said Blizzard will let blitzchung keep his prize money and the company will reduce his suspension to only six months.

Montreal teen boycotting the game in response

A political movement that has been unfolding in Hong Kong in the past few months spilled into the gaming industry this week.

And it could have a big effect if more players boycott the game.

Blitzchung, a Hong Kong-based Hearthstone player, was suspended for a year for speaking out about the situation.

“Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution for our age!” he said in Mandarin in an interview.

He also pulled a mask over his face.

The mask is similar to those being used by protesters in the streets of Hong Kong to hide their identity.

Tweet reads: Hong Kong Hearthstone player calls for liberation of this country in post-game interview.

The move has players like 15-year-old Phoenix Bruneau boycotting the game.

“I think that the punishment was completely absurd,” said the Montreal teen who heard about the news from his dad.

A teen plays a video game on a computer

Phoenix Bruneau, 15, is boycotting Hearthstone. (CBC)

He said blitzchung was exercising freedom of speech and a shorter suspension would have been more appropriate.

Player broke the rules

Blitzchung, whose real name is Chung Ng Wai, won’t receive any prize money for participating and winning games in the Grandmasters match.

“I expected the decision by Blizzard,” blitzchung told IGN.com. “I think it’s unfair, but I do respect their decision. I’m not [regretful] of what I said.”

Blizzard said in a statement that the player had violated the game’s rules, which state players cannot offend “a portion or group of the public.”

“After an investigation, we are taking the necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.”

Hearthstone is a card game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The Grandmasters Season 2 tournament is still going on (YouTube)

It went on to say:

“While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.”

Why are people protesting in Hong Kong?

Protests in Hong Kong started in June after the government announced criminal suspects would be sent to China for trial.

People in Kong Kong opposed the bill based on the fact that the former British colony has a certain level of autonomy.

Eventually, the bill was dropped, but protests have continued as an anti-government, pro-democracy movement.

a massive crowd in the street

Pro-democracy demonstrators protest in Hong Kong on Oct. 4, 2019. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images)

Blitzchung has been taking part in the protests, which he said sometimes got in the way of his work on the Grandmasters match.

“I know what my action on stream means. It could cause me [a] lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”

Phoenix said the suspension could have serious implications for Blizzard if a lot of people boycott.

“I think it could have a huge impact on the company,” he said. “I think if they don’t … revoke the punishments or just completely undo what they did, they might get some huge backlash.”

There have been reports that Blizzard employees walked off the job in protest on Wednesday.

CBC reached out to Blizzard Entertainment for comment but did not hear back.


With files from Reuters and CBC News

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