I really liked Overwatch I looked forward to it on Switch. Then the Blizzard / Hong Kong / Blitzchung controversy happened.
When I first played Overwatch on the Xbox One, I adored it. I was one hell of a Mercy Main, loving that support role. Yes there are those of us that prefer that.
But as someone who likes a lot of games, I found it hard to stick to playing this one, so found that my activity dropped, before abandoning the game completely. Always with the intention of going back at some point.
The Switch port of Overwatch should have been that opportunity, pre-ordering at the earliest opportunity. Eagerly anticipating being able to jump in on the Switch.
The motion controls alone looked like they had a great implementation (spoiler: they really do, they are the best I have used to date). Despite the hardware it still looked incredible to me… yes, yes 30 FPS and all that, but I just don’t care!
So what stopped me in my tracks?
Mere days before Overwatch unlocks Blizzard go and make a monumental cock up. Seeing the situation with Hong Kong and thinking it would be a good idea to punish a well known competitor, who showed his support to the protestors.
He showed his support for basic human rights. There is plenty written about this, I’ll link some articles and videos at the end.
All Blizzard had to do was the grand sum of nothing! They didn’t have to do anything. In this case they could have stayed quiet, ignored it. Hid behind a line of ‘The views of our competitors are not those held by Blizzard Entertainment’. That is all they had to do. It is easy not to create a Blizzard / Hong Kong / Blitzchung issue.
Sure there might have been a few snide comments across the internet, but they would have been lost in the wind. We could have all gone on to enjoy the games and focus on the games.
Not Blizzard! They are seemingly running scared of Chinese influence, just like many, many corporations, especially those in the entertainment industry. They went too far in supporting tyrannical regimes over common human decency.
Blizzard banned Hearthstone player Blitzchung from competition and withheld all his prize money, all for showing his support to his fellow humans protesting for human rights.
Just think about that for a second. It is ridiculous. Despite Blizzard dialling it back a bit and making it a 6 month ban and allowing him to keep his already earned prize money, they have still chosen their side.
Which leads me to an internal struggle. Do I play Overwatch still?
I have already purchased the game, which means Blizzard have their cut of my money. So does playing it have any effect at all? Or should I not to show my support to the protestors?
I am a big believer in you fight your own causes, the ones that are important to you. There is no need to fight every single one because it is morally right to do so.
I boycott The S*n newspaper in England. Because I am a Liverpool fan and what they wrote as headlines in the April of 1989 destroyed so many families and their hopes for Justice for lost loved ones, that they can never be forgiven (read more here). But since then I just don’t agree with their views on life in general. It is the same as to why I won;t read the likes of the Daily Mail, Express, etc. Though my boycott of those isn’t as hard and fast as it is with The S*n.
Yet, I don’t force my boycott on others, especially not living in the South, I cannot expect someone from Essex to boycott that rag for the same reasons I do.
I won’t eat Barilla branding pasta products, because of their Chairman’s views. Despite efforts of the company to fix his mess.
Yet I consume many other things that others don’t agree with. I won’t list them, as we could be here all day. It is OK to pick and choose how much of a stand you take.
But this one is very difficult. I have boycotted certain games previously due to political views of certain people. Yet those also caused internal conflict.
The views and actions of Blizzard likely do not match those of the developers themselves, especially when this is all set around not Overwatch, but an entirely different game in Hearthstone.
But I am lining the pockets of Blizzard and showing that no matter what they do, they can still make money.
Why should it bother me?
I did decide to try Overwatch on Switch, it had downloaded already and I was curious to see how it worked. But my inner confrontations is based on whether I should continue playing or not.
For most people this wouldn’t be an issue, but for me and for others like me, this can ruin you for days. I sat for ages before first booting the game up, deciding if this is the right thing to do .
Ludicrous thoughts went through my head. I wondered if it made me an awful person to play, if it made me a bad person to not play and show the devs support and so many other thoughts too.
Then I was able to sit back and tell myself that I don’t actually matter, my singular action of playing Overwatch or not, as no effect on what is happening in Hong Kong, nor does it even register on Blizzard’s radar.
Then I woke up in the middle of the night… What if everyone is thinking like I am. It there are loads of us, we could have an effect on things. Did my actions earlier mean something?
Most people will weight up something morally for a brief period, a few moments maybe, before making a decision. But here I am dwelling on a simple choice of playing a game or not, for days on end.
I am writing this and now thinking to myself, that I am an idiot and should just calm it down a bit. But every single day is an internal struggle with conflicting emotions and decisions. Gaming should be one of the thinga that breaks from that.
But here we are… What to do?
Some links to the Blizzard / Hong Kong / Blitzchung coverage:
Jim Sterling Reaction