When you enter the GamersForFreedom website, the first thing you see are masked protesters holding up American flags in solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters. Scroll down a little, and you’ll see a paragraph that ends with the statement “support free speech for gamers in America, Hong Kong, China, and everywhere else we play.”
While the protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months now, the gaming community became more aware of the country’s plight when Hearthstone Grandmasters player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai was banned from competitive play by Blizzard after making a political statement in support of the protesters in a post-game interview.
Since then, gamers have been just a small segment of those criticizing the publisher for disallowing freedom of speech and seemingly sacrificing its scruples to ensure a place in the Chinese market. Many have called for a boycott of their games, including Overwatch and World of Warcraft, while others have used the company’s video game characters in pro-Hong Kong propaganda.
But gamers are about to make their biggest statement against Blizzard yet.
Nonprofit activist group Fight for the Future has organized a campaign known as Gamers for Freedom, calling upon gamers to show up at BlizzCon on November 1 and protest Blizzard’s continued censorship.
The gamers and activists have set up a Discord to plan the protest, where they are currently discussing everything from cosplay to signage. Despite being in its early stages, Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer is expecting things to grow as BlizzCon approaches.
“This is not going away. Blizzard, and other companies who are engaging in censorship on behalf of an authoritarian government, are not going to get away with it. They have no idea what kind of Internet shitstorm they’ve unleashed,” stated Greer.
He went on to say that Gamers for Freedom will be “making an example” out of Blizzard, warning other companies within video game industry of the consequences if they also choose to “throw human rights and freedom of expression under the bus” in hopes of making more money.
“It will not be tolerated,” Greer said.
As of writing this piece, the Discord group is discussing what they’ll do if Blizzard attempts to shut down the protest. They are also wondering if their employers will fire them for peacefully protesting outside of BlizzCon.