Gaming outlets halt Activision Blizzard coverage

Namely TheGamer, GameXplain and Prima Games.

This kind of reaction is as logical as it is awkward. No coverage is owed to anyone and any outlet can stop covering whatever it wants for whatever reason it wants and California’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also tricky as this punishes the collective work of people at two different companies. There’s no right answer here, not really. By cutting any coverage, many company employees’ work ends up being collateral damage. At the same time, by applying indirect pressure to them, they are more likely for those employees to apply more pressure internally for any cultural issues to really be addressed.

Naturally, bigger outlets are more hesitant to enact such policies and I can’t blame them either. In journalism, ethically speaking, an outlet’s first obligation is to the reader. And punitively cutting coverage sends a message but it achieves little for the reader.

It’s a conundrum and there’s no clean cut way out of it.

That said, I feel this is the perfect opportunity to remind everyone how gaming media that would hardly ever make such a move when companies openly and repeatedly lie to consumers while towing the line of fraud of one kind of another, when companies run wholly disingenuous ad campaigns and more, when crunch doesn’t ease off, when harm is done at scale inside and outside companies.

But when sex is involved, all hell breaks loose. Well, good. This doesn’t negate the fact that as media, we still have to get our priorities untangled. Not for the moment but for the long haul. Unjust is not only that which titillates the US the most. It’s important to be reminded of that as non-US media tend to mimic US media more than you might think.

Lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard for harassment and discrimination against women

The pay gap went all the way to the most senior roles, with chief people officer Claudine Naughton having a yearly salary of $655,000 in 2020 while, for example, president and chief operating officer Daniel Alegre had a salary of over $1 million. The salary of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has been under fire over last year, with the exec recently taking a 50% pay cut.

Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over Widespread Harassment Of Women

It is this type of irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.

This is a comical stance for the company to take and it shouldn’t just be dropped within an article, it should be getting a bit more fleshed out by reporters. This can be done without veering into personal commentary territory. One has only to highlight what it implies, namely that a public agency that’s there to protect workers is somehow automatically not as credible as private interest entities like the company itself which has an obvious interest in just or also protecting itself.

Blizzard Botched Warcraft III Remake After Internal Fights, Pressure Over Costs

When Warcraft III: Reforged was released on Jan. 28, 2020, it was widely panned, earning a 59 of 100 on the review aggregation website Metacritic. The game was buggy and missing the components that Blizzard had promised earlier, including the updated cutscenes — sequences that develop the story line but aren’t part of game play —  and re-recorded voice-overs. The remake even lacked features that the original Warcraft III had contained in 2002, such as a “ladder” system that ranked competitive players. Blizzard also had disabled the original version of the game on its digital platform, so the inferior remake was the only version that fans could easily play.

In the weeks after launch, Blizzard promised to update the game and add some of those features over time, but 18 months later, they are still nowhere to be found.

Here the company is caught outright lying to the public, more than once even. But this kind of thing just can’t cause the uproar that harassment (rightly) ignites. In my view this only underlines the failure of the Press. And not of just the gaming Press.

Thinking outside the Man Box

Davis described the idea of the Man Box, “a set of beliefs that are communicated by parents and family, the media, peers, and other members of society that place pressures on men and boys to be a certain way.”

She identified seven main pillars of the Man Box:

Be entirely self-reliant: Do things without help from others
Act tough: Defend your reputation and use aggression to do so
Be physically attractive, effortlessly: Putting time and effort into your appearance is not manly
Stick to gender roles: Take risks, be a leader, provide for your family, no cooking or caregiving
Be heterosexual and homophobic: Avoid being gay or even being perceived as gay
Be hypersexual: Value sexual conquests over intimacy, never turn down sex
Use aggression to solve conflicts: Be willing to use violence to get respect, be in control of your relationships

Most of this I get. The one that baffles me is the heterosexual/homophobic combo. Having them side to side is like saying that promoting or rewarding heterosexual norms is automatically homophobic, as if there’s no way to promote heterosexuality without insulting homosexuality. If that’s the case, then there’s no way to promote homosexuality without attacking heterosexuality. I’ve grown very, very tired of zero sum game theory.

Homophobic language was used in more than 10% of segments. 49% of segments used ableist language, with “crazy” being used in more than 18% of clips analyzed.

What does this mean? If someone uses the word “crazy” in any context it’s taken as being ableist? Again, people, enough with the zero sum games.

“When a streamer uses sexually objectifying language, the amount of sexually objectifying language in the chat doubles,” the report states. “We find similar increases in chat messages using a respective slur when the gamer uses sexist, racist, ableist, ageist, and sizeist language. This confirms that the most popular streamers in online platforms set the tone for the language used by participants in the chat.”

This makes sense. Anyone with social capital of any kind can influence a mass of people so such influence of course comes with added responsibility. But this isn’t a streamer problem. This is an “everyone” problem. It’s like some people have never been exposed to election campaigns. Or, I don’t know. Michael Jackson. Or something.