The Brief: After Blizzard punished a professional player for speaking out in favor of Hong Kong protestors, anti-Blizard memes bashing the company for its censorship have been going viral.
Activision Blizzard, the American company behind such games as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and StarCraft, has recently come under fire for its reaction to a pro gamer speaking out in support of the pro-democracy Hong Kong Protestors. In response, gamers, memers, and supporters of the Hong Kong Protestors have been circulating anti-Blizzard memes online and encouraging players to boycott the company.
On Sunday, Chung Ng Wai, a Hong Kong-based player of the Blizzard game Hearthstone who goes by the name Blitzchung, made statements in support of Hong Kong protestors, repeating the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time” and wearing goggles and a face mask that the city’s protestors are known for. Blizzard responded on Tuesday with an announcement that it would be suspending Blitzchung for a year, forcing him to forfeit $10,000 in prize money that he had been awarded, and firing the commentators who conducted the interview.
Blizzard is an American company with an estimated 12% of its revenue coming from the Asia Pacific region. The Chinese tech company Tencent owns a 5% stake in Blizzard.
Outside of China, there has been a movement online for players to boycott Blizzard. On Tuesday, a group of Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout and protested outside of offices in Irvine, California in direct response to the company’s punishment and censorship of Blitzchung’s pro-Hong Kong comments. Former Blizzard players have been tweeting screenshots of them deleting their Blizzard accounts and plans for a protest at Blizzard’s upcoming convention Blizzcon are underway.
This hurts. But until Blizzard reverses their decision on @blitzchungHS I am giving up playing Classic WoW, which I helped make and helped convince Blizzard to relaunch. There will be no Mark of Kern guild after all.
Let me explain why I am #BoycottBlizzard
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) October 9, 2019
— Jess Verba (@JessVerba) October 9, 2019
Memes directly opposing Blizzard’s actions have been circulating across social media platforms, including on the subreddits r/HongKong and r/Hearthstone. Both Winnie The Pooh and Mei from Overwatch are recurring figures in these memes as they’ve come to represent the Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors and opposition to the Chinese government.
This one sparks joy. This one does not spark joy.
Epic vs. Blizard
Blizzard is trying to keep this photo off the internet. pic.twitter.com/XwlyRqZIka
— 𝘾𝙧𝙮𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙨𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙅𝙪𝙡𝙚𝙨 (@Jooweein) October 8, 2019
— 양재동 32세 임덕수 (@index765) October 9, 2019