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Activision Blizzard is being sued by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing after the organisation spent two years investigating the company's internal practices. Though there has been a few statements made by people like CEO Bobby Kotick, as well as a claim that the DFEH has acted inappropriately in their investigation, one team has decided to speak for itself.
World of Warcraft is perhaps the world's best-known MMORPG. Years of development, millions of players, and heaps of lore have all gone into making it Blizzard's best-known property. Now the game's team, separate from the rest of the company, has made its own statement about how they've reacted to the harassment allegations.
The lengthy post released on Twitter reads:
"It was clear from our team conversations that we wanted to put forth a statement that was representative of the World of Warcraft team's sentiment. We asked all members of our team to send us their suggestions and feedback on how best to address the community and this is the result.
"The past days have been a time of reflection for the World of Warcraft team, spent in conversation and contemplation, full of sadness, pain, and anger, but also hope and resolve. As we heed the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences, we stand committed to taking the actions necessary to ensure we are providing an inclusive, welcoming and safe environment both for our team and for our players in Azeroth. Those of us in leadership understand that it is not our place to judge when we have achieved our goals, but rather for our team and our community to let us know when we still have more to do.
"While we turn to our team for guidance in our internal work to protect marginalized groups and hold accountable those who threaten them, we also want to take immediate action in Azeroth to remove references that are not appropriate for our world. This work has been underway, and you will be seeing several changes to both Shadowlands and WoW Classic in the coming days.
"We know that in order to rebuild trust, we must earn it with our action in the weeks and month to come. But we go forward knowing that we share the same vision as our community about creating a place where people of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds can thrive and proudly call home."
A message from the #Warcraft team. pic.twitter.com/3gWCz1gu8T
- World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) July 27, 2021
As GameSpot notes, the changes coming to the game are likely removing the references to Alex Afrasiabi, the former director of the game. He left Blizzard quietly last year following allegations of hitting on women at the company, trying to kiss women, and more. He is still recognised within the World of Warcraft as an NPC and will likely be the main difference made to the in-game world.
It should be noted that the World of Warcraft team especially has been receiving bad press since a video resurfaced showing a woman politely asking the team at a panel if they'd consider making female characters look less like Victoria's Secret catalogue models. Their response was insincere and joking, asking her what catalogues their characters should be from instead.
Oh god, I'd not seen this before. It's heartbreaking.
Here's a 2010 Blizzcon panel in which a fan was brave enough to ask a panel full of men, including J. Allen Brack (left) & Alex Afrasiabi (right) whether there's scope for some of WoW's female characters to be less sexualised pic.twitter.com/Elaf3K7KVc
- Chris Bratt (@chrisbratt) July 23, 2021
This lengthy post responding to the allegations has had a mix of responses. Some are praising the team for responding separately to the situation, thinking that perhaps this hadn't gone through the higher management team and was a more sincere look at how it was affecting regular employees. Others think it's more of an attempt to convince people to not boycott Blizzard products or it frankly doesn't do enough to explain the changes that they're promising to make, aside from just removing a single NPC.
Activision Blizzard employees are staging a walk-out today from 10am-2pm PST / 6pm-10pm BST. Employees will stop working and post the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout at this point. Fans are encouraged to stop playing Blizzard games at this point, some players organising to log in shortly before the walkout, and then games en masse to help employees make their point.
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