WoW chat controversy

Usually I focus exclusively on EQ2, but today I’d like to take a look at something going on in World of Warcraft. A little more than a week ago, Sara Andrews, while online, posted a message to a general chat channel recruiting for her guild, in which she stated that the guild was “not LGBT only, but LGBT-friendly”. For this action, she was cited by a GM in the game.

I’m not sure if that means any action was taken other than she was told not to do that again by a GM:

While we appreciate and understand your point of view, we do feel that the advertisement of a ‘GLBT friendly’ guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise.

Sara’s point was that the policy at the time prohibited chat which “insultingly” refered to sexual orientation, as well as politics, religion, and race, to name a few. She saw nothing insulting about stating her guild to be LGBT friendly.

Then Lambda Legal got involved and sent Blizzard a letter, which Kotaku posted to the web. It’s well worth reading if you are interested in the topic. And it appears that Blizzard is trying to backtrack somewhat as well. As best I can tell, their Terms of Use have already been rewritten to eliminate the qualifier “insulting” and to claim the absolute right to censor general chat. In particular, users may not

Transmit or post any content or language which, in the sole and absolute discretion of Blizzard Entertainment, is deemed to be offensive, including without limitation content or language that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, sexually explicit, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, nor may you use a misspelling or an alternative spelling to circumvent the content and language restrictions listed above;

The word “insulting” has been removed, and “offensive” substituted. But is “LGBT-friendly” offensive? I guess to some people it is. And those people will make a big fuss.
Now, I can understand why a company like Blizzard might wish to minimize the number of their paying customers which get offended. But I can’t endorse the policy.

For the record, I’m LGBT-friendly. I’ve never discussed this explicitly with my officers or guild members, but I know that most of my officers and my co-guild leader are as well. We keep guild chat PG-13, though, so there’s not a lot of discussion of a sexual nature, gay or straight. One thing I frown upon is the use of the word “gay” as a disparagement in guild chat. I expect that if I were an LGBT person, that would be a positive quality in a guild – not having part of my identity used as a put-down.

And bear in mind that such use of language is usually not cited in general chat channels. So guilds of this nature do a service to those customers of Blizzard that find such chat offensive. Why try and stop them?

Blizzard is already trying to walk back from their position somewhat as well. There may still be more paying customers who take offense at “LGBT-friendly” but there are more than a few LGBT players, and they are paying customers, too.

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