The Blizzard Entertainment we once knew and loved has vanished into the mists of time.
Blizzard was once a shining city on a hill that stood out as a beacon of gamer-centric righteousness in the sleazy wasteland of the video game sausage factory. Blizzard’s extraordinary game development philosophy defied conventional wisdom. Blizzard did things their way. They didn’t care what anyone thought and their fans loved them for it.
Today, the maverick Irvine-based gaming studio once known for its unwavering commitment to quality has been transformed by ambitious leadership that wants to turn Blizzard into the next Disney. But, there is a price to pay. To gain membership into this exclusive club you must be willing to sell your soul and conform to the obligatory leftist worldview that is held by most California-based entertainment and tech companies.
For the last few years, the new Blizzard — Blizzard 2.0 — has proceeded to implement their part of the Faustian bargain. They’ve gone all in with a wholesale capitulation to the cultural group-think that constitutes the social justice and identity politics movements. And now these ideologies are being infused directly into their products and into their marketing. Even Blizzard’s latest promotional video with its hipster multicultural vibe that would be right at home in an iPhone commercial, is a sign of their new ideological direction.
Blizzard almost seems ashamed of its old demographic and in an effort to be more relevant — they are willing to do just about anything. The tried and true Blizzard target audience of rough and tumble alpha male gamers has been unceremoniously replaced by feminized beta male hipsters and pink-coiffed edgy feminists. Times sure have changed at Blizzard’s campus in Irvine, California.
In April of 2017, we saw direct evidence of this as Blizzard Game Director and Vice President Jeff Kaplan gave a speech at D.I.C.E. 2017 entitled: “Overwatch: How Blizzard Created a Hopeful Vision of the Future”. While Kaplan’s presentation contained some interesting game design insights it rapidly morphed into a pretentious sermon replete with the kind of virtue signaling and moral exhibitionism that one sees at a TED talk or a Hollywood awards show.
Like the tech giants and big media companies that never miss an opportunity to promote politically correct values to their customers, Blizzard has finally fallen into line and joined the ranks of this new ideological and spiritual orthodoxy.
This is a long essay. I originally began it as a response to Jeff Kaplan’s Overwatch speech at D.I.C.E. After analyzing his talk in depth, I found myself exploring other issues that up until recently were tangential to my usual coverage of the MMO industry. So I have decided to include relevant observations and musings about religion, politics, sexuality and most importantly the current culture war that has been mercilessly waged upon Western civilization. What follows is not so much about Overwatch as it is about the ideology and motivations behind it.
The Progressive DNA of the Arts Community
To set the stage, what we must understand about the people who inhabit the arts and entertainment industries and the people who make video games is that most are progressives. In a brilliant article, Dr. Gina Louden plumbs the depths of the complex psyche of the artist and explains why most of them are attracted to progressive causes and left-wing politics. Dr. Louden also shares an insightful quote by John J. Ray who penned an excellent piece where he explains what motivates the leftist mind to seek fame to build their egos:
Most (but not all) Leftists/liberals are motivated by strong ego needs — needs for power, attention, praise and fame. And in the USA and other developed countries they satisfy this need by advocating large changes in the society around them — thus drawing attention to themselves and hopefully causing themselves to be seen as wise, innovative, caring etc. Rightists by contrast have no need either for change or its opposite and may oppose change if they see it as destructive or favour change if they see it as constructive.
If you cover any aspect of the entertainment business, at some point you need to deal with the reality that the arts have always been over-represented by people who lean to the left of the political spectrum. And it naturally follows that those who work in the video game industry are no exception. This inherent ideological bias is problematic and if unchecked, can directly change the content in video games and alienate consumers who don’t subscribe to a left-wing world view.
The Dangerous Game of Choosing an Ideological Side
With any other product or service, the ideology of the people employed in those industries would not be a problem because in most cases products and services are apolitical: a loaf of bread is not a conservative or progressive loaf of bread by virtue of the political bent of the baker — it’s simply a loaf of bread. However, when the left-wing political beliefs and worldview of those that own and create the entertainment are purposely injected into the product then those of us who are in the center and right of the political spectrum are going to have a problem with it.
Today, the political biases of those who create the entertainment we consume and the games we play, are finding their way into the entertainment medium with increasing regularity. Films, TV shows and now video games once created with the goal of amusement and distraction from the rigors of everyday living, entertainment are now being used to disseminate both overt and covert ideological messages that bolster one political ideology. What used to be entertainment for entertainment’s sake is now entertainment for the sake of advocacy.
When an organization chooses one side of the political spectrum, they are playing a dangerous game because those in the center and those on the other side are left out.
The premise of liberty and democracy is that the people get to decide the winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas. But there is no authentic marketplace when all of the permitted ideas are progressive and conservative ideas are ignored, never allowed to be produced or outright canceled despite being successful. Conservative arts and entertainment enjoy tremendous popularity when they are allowed to compete but the gatekeepers of the entertainment complex would rather foist progressive content on the public and lose money.
Video Game History, Gaming Conferences, and Social Justice
Up until recently, the video game industry followed the unstated laws of the marketplace. Video games were designed and produced for the benefit of the consumers who purchased them. If a game was good it sold well. If a game was bad, it sold poorly. Video games did not at least outwardly contain any form of political or ideological bias because the early video game developers instinctively realized that using video games to indoctrinate gamers was unethical and inappropriate.
In the early years of video games, there were no real designers. Game design was done by programmers who were analytical and more apt to be conservative or apolitical. America was more of a conservative center nation compared to its current left-wing tilt. As the video game industry progressed, graphics improved and evolved into heavily scripted narratives the need for creative types such as artists, designers and writers grew. The people who filled these new roles brought with them their inherent left-wing worldview.
Back in the good old days, video games weren’t saddled with the lofty obligation to change the world. The underlying assumption was that video games existed to allow the gamer to briefly escape, have fun and be amused. Unfortunately, as our culture has become increasingly politicized so too have video games.
In the past few years, the D.I.C.E, GDC and other video game conventions have featured presenters that have started to overtly promote political correctness while talking about their craft. This political correctness is the combination of social justice ideology and identity politics.
What is Social Justice?
Social justice is an amorphous term that means something different to everyone. Classical social justice was mainly concerned with the temporal and material welfare of humanity — especially concern for the poor. It’s worth noting that economic social justice is not without its critics. Eventually, social justice morphed into an obsession for a just world through the prism of equality. The attainment of equality was seen as the answer to every problem.
Today, the social justice advocate has abandoned equality and is in search of special rights and privileges for those they claim are disenfranchised and marginalized. This is what is known as identity politics.
Instead of a color-blind society advocated by civil rights icon like Martin Luther King Jr., the social justice adherent seeks to identify and amplify all differences in humanity. By design, this process is a quest with no attainable end. This has the effect of creating a climate of constant warfare between society at large and an internal struggle between the groups who then compete for the highest magnitude of victimhood.
The most extreme of those that believe in this leftist ideology are called social justice warriors. They believe that all institutions should be destroyed and reforged via the adoption of concepts such as equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Another term for social justice warrior is the newly coined regressive left. Dave Rubin from the Rubin Report has created a video for Praeger University called “Why I left the Left” which explains everything you need to know how the left has devolved into the regressive left.
Where does the current iteration of social justice come from? In a way, it’s a kinder and gentler form of Marxism that is more palatable for the masses. The current radicalized version of social justice has been allowed to metastasize unchecked in the enclaves of higher learning. It originated in the humanities — especially gender studies. For many decades, Marxist and 3rd wave feminist professors have been laying the ideological framework for a war against Western civilization that we are just now beginning to see manifest in our culture.
Even the Chinese are Mocking the Regressive Left
The notoriety of the social justice warrriors here in America has even spread to China. Daniel Lang from Shtfplan.com reveals that the Chinese have a term for the American white left: baizuo. He quotes from another article by Chechen Zang:
…baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.
If the Chinese who are living without internet freedom under the tyranny of their communist government are aware of the scourge of the regressive left in America, you know there’s a serious problem.
Since China has always been a lucrative market for Blizzard video games, one would think that the highly paid suits at Blizzard would have some awareness of negative opinions of the Chinese population with regard to American notions of political correctness and social justice.
The Social Justice Religion and Virtue Signalling
In the past few years, many American colleges have been ravaged by the excesses of social justice ideology. Many are perplexed by the fanaticism of this ideology. One astute observer has an answer. He is Professor Jonathan Haidt. He calls social justice a religion complete with sacred values, saints and sinners.
Virtue signaling — a relatively new termed coined for those who shamelessly boast of their good deeds to the world — is, in fact, a highly addictive social narcotic that induces a feeling of euphoria in the user. Like narcotics, virtue signaling gives one a temporary high without expending any real effort, actual virtue or tangible sacrifice. One of the main attractions of this slacktivist religion is that virtue signaling instantly imparts the practitioner with a halo of unearned moral superiority.
Even though virtue signaling has little to nothing to do with actual virtue, it’s the main form of worship for this new pseudo-religion. Occasionally this worship is done via sanctimonious speeches, press releases, and public demonstrations but it mostly manifests itself via social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Each week social justice warriors seize upon some sin or blasphemy to proclaim their virtue and show their outrage and like a hive of angry bees, they swarm the hapless offender.
According to moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the social justice religion is all about dividing the world into two camps: victims and oppressors. This worldview takes on religious overtones as it paints victims as good and oppressors as evil. In this new moral matrix, the victims deserve the highest respect and must be emancipated from their oppressors.
As Haidt has noted, every belief system has sacred values. Victims are sacred to the social justice warriors and every year they find new victims that need emancipation from evil oppressors. When no such victims are available they create new ones and manufacture new oppressors and bigots to chastise to justify their outrage. There is both a supply and demand problem for the social justice warrior: not enough victims and not enough bigots. The recent marriage equality and transgender culture wars are two prime examples of this. Witch hunters always need a fresh batch of victims and witches to ply their trade to broadcast their moral purity by rooting out the wicked and blasphemous.
And now this moral panic and ideological hysteria have reached the fictional worlds of video games.
Culture is Upstream from Politics
While Karl Marx claimed that religion is the opiate of the masses, I believe that entertainment and amusement have become the true opiate of the masses. Whoever controls this narcotic of distraction, can control the hearts and minds of the world. Entertainment is a powerful and persuasive force that shapes our culture far more than we like to believe.
The late conservative and libertarian Andrew Breitbart noted that culture is upstream of politics. The left has known this truth of human condition since the advent of the Frankfurt School’s infiltration of American academia in the 1930’s. When economic Marxism utterly failed, they realized they needed to find a new tactic to spread it. Eventually, they understood that the best way to change a nation’s politics is to first undermine then change the nation’s culture.
It’s working as planned because today most Americans are obsessed with entertainment culture. We have gone from a largely Christian nation to a pagan nation that is obsessed with the unfettered pursuit of pleasure and amusement. Today, entertainment is incredibly efficacious in establishing societal norms and mores as it can change the Overton window — the range of acceptable public opinion — on almost any subject. The normalization of homosexuality in the public consciousness since 1990 to the present day, was the direct result of the purposeful infusion of the gay rights activist agenda into the entertainment bloodstream of America. This campaign was so successful that in a recent survey Americans greatly overestimate the number of LBGT Americans at 23% when in reality it is 3.8% of the adult American population. Mission accomplished.
Emboldened by the success of this strategy, the left is now using similar normalization techniques to implement other aspects of their victimology agenda by planting them in the fertile ground of the popular culture. Combine this with the general erosion of classical liberal arts education, the removal of Christian thought from the zeitgeist, the rise of neo-Marxism, a leftist dominated media and academia, and a generation of coddled and conflict averse, intellectually lazy millennials weaned on technology and video games and you have the perfect conditions for the authoritarian social justice ideology to spread into the compromised immune system of the public consciousness.
The Invasion of Social Justice into Video Games
Each year, video games become more and more culturally ubiquitous with total sales even exceeding that of the Hollywood film industry. So it was just a matter of time before the radical left set their sights on video games as a tool for advocacy, propaganda, and indoctrination.
Not only did the social justice left include millennials who were game designers and artists, they also had the complicity of a progressive video game press who were only too eager to make their mark on an unsuspecting community of video gamers. News and lifestyle websites grew rapidly in the past 10 years and the demand for writers to populate these sites with articles created a situation where these sites would hire just about anyone regardless of talent or experience. They ended up hiring people from college who majored in liberal arts and humanities such as English and women’s studies. Consequently, they brought with them the progressive values (fighting racism and inequality, promoting diversity, etc.) that they absorbed at college.
Combine the progressive bent of designers and artists in the video game industry with the newly arrived progressives in web journalism and you had a dangerous ideological alignment. This subsequent exposure of this collusion between the video game industry and the media was dubbed Gamergate.
So here we are in 2017. Every year at GDC and D.I.C.E. there are more speeches and panels devoted to diversity in gaming where developers and non-developers alike take the stage and indulge in virtue signaling and sanctimonious posturing about what kinds of video games they think the industry should produce. Somehow these self-appointed arbiters of morality purport to know what’s best for me and you. They do not.
Let’s get back to Kaplan’s speech at D.I.C.E. But before I continue, it’s useful to explain what Overwatch is.
Overwatch: Epcot Center meets Sam Peckinpah
Overwatch is a highly successful first-person shooter video game that takes place on planet earth complete with a ragtag cast of unlikely superheroes. Overwatch borrows heavily from Marvel superhero films and the result is a carnival of non-stop violence, comic book buffoonery, and acrobatic ass-kicking. Sam Peckinpah would be proud indeed.
There’s even a back story about the world of Overwatch if you look hard enough.
In the grand tradition of Blizzard, Overwatch is not a realistic version of Earth but a Hollywood/Disney caricature of earth that looks much the Epcot Center — a sanitized, Pollyanna theme parked version of our world complete with a multicultural vibe where all cultures are equal and none are exceptional. This is what we have come to expect from Blizzard as they are the masters of creating heavily stylized theme park video games and with Overwatch, they have done a first-rate job with the environments.
Kaplan’s Brave New World
The theme of this year’s D.I.C.E. was world building. World building refers to both the art, designs, stories, and production techniques that are infused in today’s entertainment media. I believe world building has taken on an expanded meaning: world building now includes creating values and morals for the denizens of these worlds. Progressives see video game worlds as templates and Petri dishes for their aspirations in the real world.
To illustrate my point, Kaplan opened the speech with a quote from Dr. Harold Winston from the Overwatch short Recall. Behind Kaplan was a graphic of Dr. Winston holding the hand of an adopted baby gorilla (also named Winston) which is a homage to the iconic statues of founder Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse’s hand that can be seen at Disneyland and Disneyworld. Here’s the quote:
Never accept the world as it appears to be, dare to see it for what it could be.
This reminded me of United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s oft-quoted plea:
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?
Both quotes are somewhat similar and I believe they reveal the ethos of the progressive mind. To them, the world is an imperfect place and could be much better if we would all just agree to change. But remember, it always has to be their change and it has to be constant change. And how does that change come about? Be destroying the status quo. This is the philosophy of nihilism.
Even the change that progressives worked so hard for, soon becomes the status quo and it too must be changed. Revolutions from the French revolution to the Russian revolution demonstrate that the revolution never stops and always eats its own.
Humanity seems to love novelty and change because we are never satisfied. The grass is always greener, isn’t it? It’s hard to resist the seductive temptation of progress. Who can be against that? Yet the fundamental problem with progress is that it has no specific destination or end point. The attainment of progress is an infinite and opened ended goal that can never be achieved because the goalposts are always being moved. The progressives believe that every aspect of life must be perfected by them — even video games.
The progressives believe that every aspect of life must be perfected by them — even video games.
The Shifting Goalposts of Utopia
One might reasonably assume that a better world — a Utopia — is the goal of progress. But who gets to decide what that Utopia looks like? Today’s devout progressive might very well be a repugnant bigot in 10 years given the speed with which social progress advances and the goal posts of public morality changes. Consider progressive icons like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who supported traditional marriage only a few years ago but have since conveniently “evolved” their views to avoid being labeled heretics. By today’s standards, they would be considered hateful bigots for their beliefs if they had fallen into comas and then miraculously awakened today.
On the other hand, conservatives seek to conserve what is good and unique about Western civilization. I say this because I am a conservative and I believe it. I also say it because conservatism works and has provided humanity with the highest standards of living, unlike socialism that has failed everywhere it has been implemented. We conservatives are grateful for the benefits that our civilization has bequeathed us. While we embrace technological progress, we are suspicious of social progress which often erodes the pillars of our civilization that we find sacred — individual liberty, family structure, religious freedom, and traditional morals.
By showing Dr. Winston’s pious quote to the audience, Kaplan reveals that the underlying philosophy of Overwatch is both progressive and nihilistic in nature. More importantly, that quote sets a high moral tone that infers that Overwatch is not a mere video game but is something much more.
The Failure Project Titan and Birth of Overwatch
As the speech progressed Kaplan went on to talk about the failure of their proposed Titan MMO and how they used that experience to forge Overwatch and redeem themselves in the process.
At a cost of $50 million and 7 years of time, Titan was the biggest failure Blizzard has ever had to endure. Somehow the company that made the most successful MMO in history was utterly incapable of making another MMO. For some reason, Blizzard ran out of ideas. Perhaps it was just incompetence as Blizzard had no EverQuest around to borrow from and inspire them.
The dirty secret about Blizzard is that they aren’t that good at being original, instead, they are masters at taking existing ideas and innovating on them with their famous reduction and polish design techniques. Regardless, this failure shook the confidence of the Blizzard A-Team which was assigned to produce Titan. Millions of dollars later, the best and brightest could not put the Humpty Dumpty MMO cash cow back together again.
Ultimately it was the failure of Titan caused the death of Blizzard 1.0. It bruised the huge egos of the Blizzard A-Team who were recruited from existing successful projects such as World of Warcraft. The catastrophe of Titan made them feel insecure. People do rash things when they are vulnerable and desperate; a drowning man will grasp anything to stay alive.
With WoW subscriptions cratering after the talented A team had been transferred to Titan, Blizzard was worried. Blizzard must have felt like an aging dinosaur out of touch with the popular culture and with a new project about to fail, they needed a gimmick to stay relevant. It was then that Blizzard decided to reinvent themselves by embracing the security blanket of identity politics and social justice which happened to be in vogue at the time. There is nothing like attaching yourself and your company to a moral crusade to give your existence meaning and to motivate the troops. When the Titan team rebranded itself as the Overwatch team, this is when Blizzard 2.0 was born.
Eventually, Kaplan made some great points about the preponderance of dystopian first-person shooter games and the fact that oppressive environments full of strange alien life and hostile geography create too much mental fatigue in the minds of the gamer. He mentioned that players gravitate more toward cheery geography. Kaplan also shared some insights that his art team had on color theory taken from World of Warcraft. Again, all worthy and reasonable elements of bonafide world building.
To Blizzard’s credit, Overwatch seems like a fresh alternative to many of those alien gaming worlds and filling that vacuum probably accounts for some of its success in a competitive first person shooter marketplace.
From Game Design to Social Justice
While Kaplan did talk about some fascinating elements of the history and the design of Overwatch, his talk focused mainly on the social justice virtues of creating a video game that that is welcoming, inclusive and diverse. For me, this is where Kaplan’s presentation crossed the line from design into ideology. These three virtues which are previously unheard-of game design tenets, just happen to be articles of faith for this new religion of social justice. Notice too, that the speech was not entitled: “Overwatch: How Blizzard Made a Great Game” rather it was called: “Overwatch: How Blizzard Created a Hopeful Vision of the Future”.
So what is Blizzard’s hopeful vision of the future?
After a deeper investigation, the world of Overwatch reminded me of 1970’s sci-fi films like Omegaman but with a Disney twist. I’ve watched the gameplay on YouTube and I have never seen any civilians or any animal life in Overwatch. Is everyone hiding? It doesn’t seem very hopeful to me when all the real people have fled. I have never seen anything that remotely resembles a living breathing world in Overwatch. All I see is players flying around and shooting at each other like a Marvel superhero flick. Instead of using dialogue and understanding to resolve problems, hope in the world of Overwatch comes from the barrel of a gun.
After thinking about this at length, it became clear to me that Blizzard’s “hopeful vision” has nothing to do with the game world of Overwatch, rather it’s more of a statement about how progressives and social justice warriors in southern California view the real world. Instead, they want to forge a new world that embraces social justice where all cultures, lifestyles, genders and sexual identities are equally represented. Today’s left is currently obsessed with equality and sexual identity and Blizzard is only too happy to follow suit. Overwatch is a sort of social engineering template for their brave new world. And heck, who cares if that world doesn’t ever come to fruition, Blizzard got to feel good about themselves by signaling their progressive virtues along the way.
What is Welcoming?
Eventually, Kaplan pivoted and talked about how developers need to create video games that are “welcoming” to players. What does welcoming mean? I can understand why geographical environments should not cause fatigue but when did good game design include welcoming your players? When have players not been welcomed in video games? What exactly is welcoming? Why do video games now have the prerequisite responsibility to welcome players? Where is the evidence that players need to be welcomed and that this makes for a better video game?
Blizzard are masters of creating video games with broad demographics and successful onboarding strategies. Ensuring that video games are accessible is something I can understand from a business point of view. Accessibility has always been about ensuring that people of various skill levels have something to do. It’s a design trade-off that has the goal of ensuring that a video game will reach enough gamers and at the same time be profitable. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime has stated that Blizzard’s goal is to reach as many players as possible. Fair enough because after all, video game companies do need to make money. However, the concept of welcoming is far different than accessibility.
The truth is that welcoming has become a ubiquitous buzz/code word used by progressives and social justice warriors to really mean diversity and equality via the inclusion, representation, and elevation of their sacred pantheon of victim groups. The notion of welcoming has somehow become part of the marketing zeitgeist as almost every corporation, college, school, non-profit organizations and mainline Christian churches use it.
The Symbolism of Tracer’s Sexuality
Now that the audience was warm to the yin and yang concepts of graphic welcoming and oppression, Kaplan cleverly segued and proudly revealed a comic book style graphic showing the main character Tracer involved in a lesbian relationship. Blizzard released this publicly a few months ago.
The revelation of Tracer as a lesbian had zero impact on gameplay. So why did they do it?
The answer is complex. Recently, many video game companies have been badgered by various members of the press and social justice groups that include mainly the LGBT lobby and left-wing foundations. These are well-funded, powerful groups that have a disproportionate influence on popular culture and the impressionable younger demographic that plays video games. By having an openly lesbian character in one of their video game Blizzard immunizes themselves from charges of homophobia and prevents the bad publicity, harassment, and shaming that typically follows to those companies who do not comply with the edicts of the powerful elites.
Additionally, by doing this Blizzard gets to engage in the religiosity of virtue signaling. They can show the world and their fellow believers how wonderful and tolerant they are. They can make preachy speeches, bask in the adulation of an industry of fellow worshippers and win awards. Blizzard is not unusual here, many American corporations have submitted to the religion of social justice and many have made similar public pronouncements about diversity and inclusion from Apple to Starbucks.
The Showtime cable show Billions indulged in similar virtue signaling by including a “gender non-binary” character to their cast. As this new religion grows, we can expect other TV shows and video games to do the same. It’s only just a matter of time before a gender non-binary and a transgender character are revealed in future incarnations of Overwatch.
Revealing that Tracer was a lesbian did nothing to improve the gameplay in Overwatch and was gratuitous symbolism and a deliberate act of corporate virtue signaling. Most gamers do not play video games to be lectured to or to be force fed identity politics. When I call a plumber, I don’t want to hear his political and religious opinions, nor do I want to know who he sleeps with. I just want my drain fixed.
Once you go down the path of pandering to the dogma of diversity and identity politics other questions will naturally arise:
How many other Overwatch characters had comic book shorts that were deliberately created to reveal and showcase their sexuality?
Will Blizzard allow LGBT characters to be made into antagonists and villains instead of squeaky clean paragons of virtue?
Tracer and her lover are youthful, attractive, sanitized, ready for prime-time Disney-friendly lesbians. Will future Overwatch characters represent the full spectrum of the lesbian community?
The Issue of Identity Representation in Media
The world of media marketing and advertising and is obsessed with the formulaic notion of identity representation. The general assumption is that a person of a particular racial/gender/sexual identity needs to see themselves as using your product or service or they won’t watch. The philosophy here is to cast as wide as of a net as possible to increase audience so you can charge more for advertising. We see this all the time with TV commercials that typically have a mix Caucasian, Black and Asian racial representations. This identity representation philosophy has started to find its way into TV shows as most have a token representation from every race. An increasing number of TV shows now have a token gay or lesbian character as well.
The problem here is one of artistic freedom versus coercion. A writer should be able to write a novel, a screenplay, a plot for a video game without having to adhere to an arbitrarily devised formula that forces the author to include token identities.
Additionally, a writer or entertainment studio has the right to target any particular audience of their choosing. If a writer wants to write a book that targets black people then they should be free to do so. Similarly, a video game studio should be free to target white males as their prime audience. In a free society, everyone should be free to think, dream, create, write and speak to whomever they wish as they see fit. Freedom of speech, freedom of association and a free marketplace is what makes Western civilization great.
Yet today, these basic freedoms are under direct attack by the self-appointed, non-elected cultural arbiters of our day: the social justice warriors. Every day we see stories about how they are outraged that TV shows or films don’t have the right racial or gender balance.
If the social justice ideology is taken its logical conclusion then all aspects of art and entertainment would have to be scrutinized by diversity committees to ensure proper representation of each and every identity. We saw the exact same scenario in the U.S.S.R. The repressive communist government of the Soviet Union made sure that all aspects of life in Russia was purged of anything that was against the state and they ensured that communist values were included.
In the West, we are not ruled by a communist dictatorship but we have something just as powerful. We have a soft totalitarianism that includes well-funded leftist organizations and inherently leftist entertainment and media complex that tell us how to think and what to believe. Anyone that deviates from their script is vilified and shamed into submission with help from virtue signaling social justice warriors. A police state is not necessary when social pressure works just as effectively.
Given the tremendous social and cultural pressure to embrace leftist dogma, I almost feel sorry for Blizzard. However, Blizzard could have stayed strong and lead instead of followed the herd. More on this later.
Being All Things to All People
There’s a basic rule of game design: when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has routinely and skillfully violated this caveat of game design by creating a wide variety of content that can accommodate virtually any level of skill. This is Blizzard’s famous donut philosophy. The result of this profit-based game design has been a continual erosion of their venerable MMORPG which increased profits short term but reduced them in the long term as MMO gamers have grown weary of the facile, dumbed down gameplay.
With video games like Overwatch, Blizzard has taken this approach even further but instead of the spectrum of player skill, they are using the concept of real-world identity by directly pandering to as many different minorities and colors of the identity politics rainbow as possible.
This is evident in Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime’s public reply to a social justice warrior’s letter:
We will always listen, and we will always work hard to make games that appeal to as many people as possible.
While Blizzard has been very successful by creating mass market games that appeal to broad audiences, Blizzard is now on a different trajectory and forsaking this approach by creating content that is designed to be appreciated by adherents of leftist ideology and assorted victim groups. Previously, video game companies targeted a specific demographic and went ahead and made the best game possible without any regard for who beyond their target audience would play. Now, every identity, race, gender, sexual identity must be represented.
To appeal to as many people as possible you typically embrace things people have common and reject what they don’t have in common. This is why you don’t see much religious content in mass media because we all have our own religious beliefs. Using religion is fine when it is germane to the setting and story. On the other hand, using a video game as a vehicle solely to promote one particular religion is inappropriate and a violation of trust which alienates those who don’t subscribe to that religion.
Successful companies that are in the business of creating content for mass markets do so by appealing to the lowest common denominator. You don’t achieve this by including controversial storylines, settings, and characters that needlessly alienate and insult your audience’s deeply held core beliefs. This is even more applicable given Blizzard’s global audience and it makes perfect financial sense.
In America, Gallup has estimated that 75% of people identify as Christian. Gallup also has estimated that 3.8% of the American population are LGBT. In what world does it make sense to potentially alienate 75% of the population while catering to 3.8%?
However, if you are trying to appease the regressive left by advocating for social change by introducing identity politics into your products then what Blizzard is understandable. As I mentioned previously, corporations are terrified by the social justice bullies and diversity shakedown artists. Alienating devout people of faith seems a small price to pay to continue to do business and gain immunity from powerful and well-funded public shaming campaigns.
The Impracticality of Implementing Diversity
Today’s commercial artist or writer rarely has the freedom to create a world of their choosing, instead, they must conform the demographics of their fictional worlds to social justice ideology of the real world. Creators that fail to tow the party line are met with a backlash.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown of diversity. The public morality of diversity has become culturally and institutionally etched in stone. To question diversity it to commit an unpardonable sin.
Economist Thomas Sowell exposes and challenges the dubious benefits of diversity in a 2016 article:
Nothing so epitomizes the politically correct gullibility of our times as the magic word “diversity.” The wonders of diversity are proclaimed from the media, extolled in the academy and confirmed in the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States. But have you ever seen one speck of hard evidence to support the lofty claims?
Sowell is right, there is no real evidence to support diversity but that doesn’t stop the progressives from chanting “diversity is our strength” as their battle cry.
The left loves to manipulate language via well-crafted euphemisms to suit their agenda. Traditionally, the term diversity — like other similarly hijacked words such as tolerance and discrimination — is an adjective devoid of any political or moral connotation. Over the years, the left has transformed the word diversity into a virtue that must be strived for at all costs. To promote diversity is to be good and moral, to be against diversity is to be evil and immoral.
So here we are in 2017 and everything must be diverse lest you face the scorn of the Twitterverse. We must now have perfect racial diversity, gender diversity, sexual diversity, ethnic diversity and so on — or face the instant wrath of the social justice warrior faithful.
The Push for Diversity is Political
It is my contention that diversity is a false virtue that has been concocted for purely political reasons. The prime one is to provide a moral foundation and justification for the political policy of multiculturism. Multiculturalism is the political manifestation of the theory of cultural relativism that implies that all cultures are equal. Because the ideology of multiculturism only exists in Western civilization, it’s a direct threat to people of European heritage, Western culture and the concept of American exceptionalism. We only have to look to Europe to see how multiculturism via mass uncontrolled immigration is rapidly erasing unique cultures that are the foundation of Western civilization.
Diversity is no panacea. Recent academic studies have shown that diversity has negative effects. In a 2007 article from Boston.com, Michael Jonas reflects on Harvard academic Robert Putnam findings:
Robert Putnam — famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement — has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.
Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to “distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.”
The transformation of diversity into an unquestioned moral and social good is dangerous. To see this highly dubious concept now being recklessly preached and promoted in a video game is troubling.
The Impracticality of Implementing Identity Diversity
Let’s say for the purposes of argument that we subscribe to the ideology of social justice and we want to implement its core tenets of diversity, equality, and inclusion in a video game world. We are then faced with the impossible task of having to represent every single race, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, and sexuality in our video game because failure to do so will end up the studio being labeled as bigots. There are currently at least 71 different forms of gender and gender expression. There are 3 major races that can be divided into sub-race categories. There are also hundreds of unique cultures, ethnicities, and religions. You are then left with hundreds of thousands of possibilities and unique identities that must all be represented.
This creates an untenable situation for the game studio. Because, once you include one identity, you must then include other identities no matter how small or insignificant. Failure to do so would end up with the studio CEO being sent thousands of letters from teary-eyed social justice warriors. This fool’s errand would cost untold millions of dollars and be impossible for any entertainment studio to achieve. This is the precisely the problem with trying to appease the proponents of diversity.
The Diversity that Actually Matters: Viewpoint Diversity
There is a kind of diversity that is rarely considered today and it’s called viewpoint diversity. Viewpoint diversity is vitally important because if everyone believes the same ideology than how can people be exposed to new ideas? We would not have scientific or economic progress if there was no viewpoint diversity and new theories, systems or technologies were never allowed to be discussed or debated. Every orthodoxy seeks to perpetuate itself but until recently science was different; science gave us the scientific method that allowed new theories to be considered. Sadly, the humanities and social sciences have nothing equivalent to the scientific method to act as mechanisms of self-correction.
Every orthodoxy seeks to perpetuate itself but until recently science was different; science gave us the scientific method that allowed new theories to be considered. Sadly, the humanities and social sciences have nothing equivalent to the scientific method to act as mechanisms of self-correction.
Today, most of the American academia has no viewpoint diversity. Again, Jonathan Haidt comes to the rescue:
The American Academy has–arguably–become a politically orthodox and quasi-religious institution. When everyone shares the same politics and prejudices, the disconfirmation process breaks down. Political orthodoxy is particularly dangerous for the social sciences, which grapple with so many controversial topics (such as race, racism, gender, poverty, immigration, and politics). America needs innovative and trustworthy research on all these topics, but can a social science that lacks viewpoint diversity produce reliable findings?
He’s right but this problem just isn’t in academia. The entertainment and video game industries also suffer from a lack of viewpoint diversity. The result is that video games with leftist assumptions and narratives will suffer from boring and predictable plots, stories and stereotypical characters. We see this all the time in Hollywood as Christians, conservatives, and Republicans are portrayed as narrow-minded, racists and bigots and progressives as freedom fighters and heroes.
These days, anyone who dares to hold and express an opinion that is deemed politically incorrect is instantly labeled by epithets and slurs like racist, white supremacist, bigot, fascist, sexist, homophobe, etc. Those who employ tactics of public shaming and draconian speech codes are creating a chilling climate where there is less viewpoint diversity and more conformity. One only has to look to Canada where the state is now run by social justice ideologues. Does anyone really want to live in a totalitarian world where opinions must adhere to a rigid dogma?
The Individual and the Freedom to Think for Yourself
Blizzard used to be a company that prided itself on its unique philosophy of game development. Phrases like “easy to learn, hard to master” and “we will not release our game until it’s ready” were almost unheard of in the video game industry but were routinely echoed throughout the halls of Blizzard and elucidated in their interviews with the press.
How then could a company of rugged individuals suddenly capitulate and conform to the ideology of identity politics and social justice?
Being unique takes courage and it takes perseverance. When times get tough, it’s far easier to follow the crowd and succumb to the safety of the herd. Subscribing to group-think is easy, being an individual is hard.
Distinguished American Historian David McCullough warns us about group think in his book The American Spirit:
Never forget that one of our greatest freedoms is the freedom to think for yourself.
Even 1960’s counter-culture guru Timothy Leary warned us about group-think with his famous quote:
Think for yourself, question authority.
Ayn Rand adds the following:
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
All three of these quotes are about the importance of the autonomy of the individual and the independence to think one’s own thoughts and to come up with one’s own opinion. The titans of Western civilization did not grow from the parched earth of conformity, rather they grew from the fertile soil of liberty.
And what of liberty? Nobody seems to talk about liberty or freedom on the left these days. For years, when the left had no power, they were yelling “freedom” at the top of their lungs. Now that they control most institutions, the very same freedom that allowed them to gain power has been conveniently fallen out of fashion. The left got their freedom, but now no one else is allowed to have it. The modern left wants conformity and obedience and anyone that disagrees and proclaims the value of freedom of speech is condemned as hateful.
Imagine if the greatest artists and inventors were intimidated by the suffocating power of the orthodoxy around them? Western civilization is great because our individuals exercised their God-given liberty and talents. They dared to be different. They dared to disagree. They dared to risk all they had and their reputations to propose something new that challenged the status quo and truly made a better world not based on coercion or destruction but on free will and creation.
In the 1980’s, another distinguished American Apple’s Steve Jobs challenged the creative lethargy of the business world with his “Think Different” campaign. Of course, Steve Jobs was a progressive and like all progressives, he wanted to change the world but at least he appreciated the value to our civilization of the giants that came before him and those who dared to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.
Today companies like Blizzard are afraid to think differently. They are lemmings following the well-trodden path of the status quo. They cling to the warm blanket of group-think that can only lead to the tragic result of stifling originality and creativity. Their slogan should be: “Think the Same.”
Do as I Say but Not as I Do: How Diverse is Blizzard?
One of the pillars of Blizzard’s mission statement is that every voice matters. We now know that progressive voices matter a great deal at Blizzard but what about voices that espouse conservative, libertarian, traditional faith viewpoints? Do they matter in the slightest?
In his speech at D.I.C.E., Jeff Kaplan talks about how good it is to be open-minded. So, let’s ask Blizzard how open-minded they are and if every voice really matters:
- Is Blizzard open-minded enough to hire people of faith who hold traditional moral values?
- How welcoming would they be of a potential job applicant who is a conservative or a Republican?
- What percentage of people currently employed at Blizzard are conservative, Republican or devout people of faith?
- Would there be any inclusion and tolerance for a Blizzard employee who does not agree with social justice ideology being infused into video games?
- What has Blizzard done to ensure that there is viewpoint diversity in their workforce?
If the experience of Hollywood is any indication, we know that Christians, conservatives, and Republicans who work in the entertainment industry are marginalized and forced to hide their views and live in the closet. They are afraid of revealing their beliefs because they will be ostracized, fired and blacklisted if they do. This is how the “tolerant” left works. Viewpoint diversity is not tolerated in the hallowed halls of the entertainment industry and the resulting offerings are worse for it.
It is entirely possible that Blizzard doesn’t really believe in social justice ideology and all its dogmatic rules and regulations. There may be more practical motives.
Cause Marketing and Social Justice as a Marketing Strategy
Not all of those that practice the social justice religion are true believers. Some do it for the financial gain. In recent years a new marketing trend called cause marketing has become popular. Cause marketing is everywhere. Notice how almost every new product arrives on the scene with a moral component that pays homage to some aspect of social justice and often accompanied by a preachy feel-good commercial.
Let’s look at automobiles as an example: Toyota sells the Prius which is an electric battery and petroleum powered hybrid car. Not only does the automobile carry out its function as a transportation vehicle, it also makes the purchaser feel good as they that they are reducing their carbon footprint and thereby saving the planet from an environmental catastrophe.
Here’s a TV commercial for Green Mountain Coffee that uses similar virtue signaling techniques:
With Overwatch, it seems the video game industry has caught up to other industries who also employ this new marketing technique.
Social Justice as a Team Building Technique
I believe that some companies are jumping on the social justice bandwagon for other reasons.
If you build your product and service around a noble cause or ideology, then you can use this as a rallying cry to help motivate your workforce and make it more cohesive because now what you do matters — you are changing the world™. As Kaplan ended his D.I.C.E. speech he showed the audience a picture of his team and beamed with pride about how inclusive both Overwatch *and* the Overwatch team are. I think the sense of purpose and cohesion that Kaplan and his team have achieved is commendable even though I do not agree with their ideological underpinnings.
There is evidence that building a team around ideology works. According to Daniel Pink in his book Drive, incentives in the form of financial bonuses is not always the best motivator. Instead, giving your employees a sense of purpose in lieu of bonuses is far more effective especially for motivating creative people. We see the same dynamic at work with nonprofit organizations who can attract unpaid volunteers because of the sense of purpose and mission of the organization.
In the case of Blizzard, the social justice mission of the Overwatch team is a form of compensation. According to various employee reviews on Glassdoor, Blizzard has paid some of their employees below the market rate because they know they can due to the prestige of working at Blizzard and the value of the Blizzard pedigree on their employee’s resume.
And now, not only can they leverage the cachet of working at Blizzard when hiring, they can promise that you can help them change the world!
The Long March of Cultural Marxism and Post-Modernism
Whether Blizzard actually believes in this new religion of identity politics and social justice doesn’t really matter, they are propagating it nonetheless.
This new social justice religion is just a recent manifestation of cultural Marxism — a nihilistic cult of moral relativism. Over 100 million dead bodies later and after economic Marxism failed so spectacularly, unemployed Marxist intellectuals needed to find another methodology to spread their contagion to destroy the West. So they came up with a strategy to attack the West from within by undermining our culture and our values. Sadly, it’s working as progressives continue to win each battle in the culture war.
Timid conservatives have only themselves to blame, as they have foolishly retreated from the culture because they thought it was unimportant and perhaps they believed that the invisible hand marketplace would somehow set it right. However, gamers who represent all side of the political spectrum united under the banner of Gamergate didn’t back down. They were victorious and have been the only real obstacle to the ongoing assault on our culture by the progressives.
(Editor’s note: the video below is no longer available. YouTube has been on a pogrom lately and deleting accounts and videos. I have replaced it with another video that explains what cultural Marxism is.)
(Editor’s note: Today is Nov. 17, 2019 and as you can see below, YouTube has removed the alternative video I linked about cultural Marxism. With two videos removed by YouTube on this taboo subject, clearly the radical leftists as YouTube do not want you to know anything about cultural Marxism.)
As we can see by the recent draconian speech codes, safe spaces and violence that the social justice warriors have perpetrated on American college campuses, the adherents of this faith do not really believe in liberty, freedom of speech, dialogue with others, Western civilization or any of its established and time-tested virtues. In their quest for an inclusive, diverse and welcoming utopia, they seek to annihilate and reshape the world according to their own dictates. To them, their utopian ends justifies the means and these cultural warmongers will not hesitate to use violence to achieve it.
Those opposed to the social justice ideology have found an unlikely champion in Canadian Professor Jordan Peterson. He has become an overnight hero in his ongoing fight against the madness of cultural Marxism and post-modernism. In the following video, he exposes how post-modernist thought has become the mortal enemy of Western civilization.
Is Social Justice a Fad?
All fads and trends eventually die. So, it’s tempting to believe that social justice is a fad that will eventually burn out. The good news that the public — especially Generation Z — is starting to wake up to the con game of social justice which is repackaged Marxism. The social justice fad hit its zenith in 2015. Recent events in America like the election of populists like Donald Trump and Brexit vote in the UK are signs that the public has become exasperated with the melancholy cult of identity politics.
Even American corporations are starting to realize that promoting social justice ideology is risky. Favoring one ideology and pandering to special interest groups can alienate other customers who don’t share your ideology. In 2015, Target jumped on board the transgender bathroom bandwagon and as a result, many customers with traditional values stopped shopping there and the company lost $15 billion dollars in their stock value.
The sports cable channel ESPN — owned by Disney — is losing a thousand subscribers per day and just laid off 100 people and is in serious financial trouble after it started to preach social justice to their viewers.
The video game industry is not immune to the temptation of fads. Back in 2010, the social gaming fad was already dying on Facebook. The social justice fad hit its zenith in 2015 and one by one video companies are retreating. Sadly, Blizzard is going the other direction and has hitched their wagon to the social justice fad. In a few years, if they persist, they will end up looking dated and ridiculous much like Farmville.
Social justice may appear to be a fad but as long as this poison is being spread by tenured academics in colleges and universities we must be vigilant, as it will always be a clear and present danger to our civilization.
What Happened to Blizzard?
Certainly, the failure of project Titan was instrumental in altering the DNA of Blizzard but there are other factors to consider. How did Blizzard go from a brash, bold, unapologetic masculine video game studio that made games that gamers wanted to play, to a feminized company of pandering, bleeding heart social justice warriors?
This the big question that invariably comes up in various incarnations on Blizzard forums and message boards with increasing frequency. So let’s try to answer it once again. For years Blizzard has been a unique company was content making great games. But back in 2014, the video game world was under assault by social justice warriors, the corrupt video game journalists and activists like Anita Sarkeesian. This assault on the video game industry became known as Gamergate.
The turning point for Blizzard came with Rob Pardo’s speech at M.I.T. in May of 2014. Pardo was giving a talk on game design and he was ambushed by a sneaky social justice warrior who asked him about the lack of diversity in Blizzard games. Pardo got caught flat footed and told the truth that Blizzard wasn’t in the business of making ideological video games about social issues.
A few months later Pardo resigned from Blizzard. Once could reasonably speculate that these two events are not unrelated.
Anything worth preserving must have systems that ensure that preservation. Company culture is not exempt from this law. Blizzard was ill-prepared for this assault of social justice warriors on their culture. Within weeks of Rob Pardo’s awkward but truthful answers, the leadership at Blizzard decided to surrender and betrayed their fans and their employees in the process.
In pondering Blizzard’s ideology strange journey to the left, it’s worth mentioning O’Sullivan’s Law which states:
All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.
What happened to Blizzard has happened to a long list of corporations, foundations, and organizations over the years. Good examples of this are the Ford Foundation, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, HBO and the ASPCA just to mention a few. All of these entities were once apolitical but have now become far left in nature.
Today, many corporations such as Google, Facebook, Apple and many others have brazenly embraced and promoted leftist political ideology in their messaging. This kind of overt political posturing by a corporation would have been unthinkable even 1o years ago but in this day and age, it is commonplace. No wonder video game companies like Blizzard and Electronic Arts have followed suit and have no fear of revealing and even celebrating their monochrome political preferences.
The Architect of Blizzard 2.0?
In April of 2016, I penned an article that chronicled Blizzard’s unfortunate embrace of political correctness. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime’s letter of reply to the litany of imaginary grievances from a social justice warrior was the public turning point. Instead of vigorously defending his team and his company’s existing non-political development philosophy, he backed down and agreed with the complainant. It was a shocking repudiation of the values that Blizzard once used to stand for. Morhaime’s embrace of social justice tenets demonstrated for all to see the company’s pivot from being an unapologetic, apolitical, gamer-centric video game company to one that believes in progressive ideology and proudly wears it on their sleeve.
Morhaime’s abrupt capitulation shocked many fans including myself. Blizzard claims that they listen but experience shows that while they may listen, it’s very selective. Unlike the social justice journalists who recently showed up to emasculate our hobby, we’ve been in the trenches for decades with Blizzard only to have our perennially concerns ignored or discarded.
Over the years, many at Blizzard have become fed up and left the company. Those at Blizzard who have decided to stay on have no choice but to conform and genuflect to the false gods of equality and social justice. So it is no surprise that Kaplan’s speech at D.I.C.E. is a repurposed and regurgitated version of Morhaime’s letter using the backdrop of Overwatch as a vehicle with some design insights thrown in for good measure.
Kaplan’s Speech Concludes
Kaplan’s speech closed with more self-congratulatory preaching about the virtue of inclusion not only in video games but in the industry as well. In all my years of writing about the video game industry, I have never heard a more audacious and sanctimonious speech coming from a game developer.
We are living in a new era where products and services routinely come with moral and ethical components. These offerings are the daily sacraments of this new religion of social justice.
Overwatch is the Prius of the video game world. This is a video game that tries to make you feel good about yourself and the world while you play. But feeling good about yourself or your race, class, creed, sexual identity or sexual expression was never the point of video games. The purpose of entertainment is to provide amusement, entertainment, and escapism — not to make a symbolic statement, validate your identity or to make one feel morally superior.
There may be some hope on the horizon. Finally, the public is growing wise to corporations that put ideology before the needs of their customers. Like the consumers who have abandoned Target, there is growing public fatigue of self-righteous virtue signaling corporations that ignore their customers and pander to small special interest groups. Comic book fans are tired of social justice shoved down their throats and even Marvel executives have realized that pandering to social justice warriors has cost them sales. Gamers are waking up too. Many are alarmed at the increasingly ideological nature of the video game industry and as mentioned previously, they have formed a watchdog community of counter-activism around it.
Even as Blizzard is entranced by the siren song of identity politics, many in the culture have grown weary of it. The Democrats in America lost the 2016 elections because of their reliance on identity politics in lieu of an actual coherent platform that appealed to working class Americans. Every day I see more people are waking up and being red pilled to the threat of cultural Marxism and post-modernism as people like Jonathan Haidt, Jordan Peterson, Cassie Jay, Sam Harris, Ian Miles Cheong, Lacie Green and Dave Rubin are speaking out against the odious ideological conformity that has clogged the arteries of our culture.
I have been a video game enthusiast since the days of the Atari 2600. Back then, playing video games was innocent fun and amusement. You didn’t have to worry about the inclusion of overt or covert political, religious or ideological dogma. Fast forward to 2017: we now live in a hyper-political culture where everything is political — even video games. Today the American public has to put up with a constant barrage of political opinions coming from hysterical elites and depraved celebrities. Sadly, even game developers have joined their ranks and the hapless gamers who just want to play a simple video game must now endure their intrusive political and ideological views.
Is it too much to ask that video games should not be used as a vehicle to proselytize a particular ideology? It’s always been an unspoken social contract that when you go to work, you don’t bring your politics, your religion, and your sexuality into the workforce and certainly do not use your company to spread your personal views and agendas to your customers. But today’s corporations drunk on the wine of self-righteousness and virtue signaling have shamelessly violated these cardinal rules.
For me and for many others, video games were always a sacred oasis of escape from the reality of our world that is increasingly divided by politics, religion, and ideology. In their zeal for redemption and self-esteem after the failure of their proposed Titan MMO, Blizzard has forgotten this basic truth of video games and failed their responsibility as protectors of this cherished refuge.
By promoting divisive and questionable moral values, Blizzard 2.0 has crossed a line. By doing so, they have alienated gamers like me — a loyal customer of 20+ years who has spent thousands of dollars on Blizzard games since Diablo up to World of Warcraft: Legion and purchased collector’s editions and strategy guides whenever possible. It’s heartbreaking to think that the money I and others invested in Blizzard’s products subsidized and financed the social justice propaganda of Overwatch.
Despite my financial and time investment into Blizzard products, I feel ignored as they march forward on their holy crusade. If you are a Blizzard fan, you are used to being ignored. Blizzard’s contempt for their loyal fans is legendary and has grown worse over the years and it’s not just me who feels this way. Their failure to accommodate the near one million vanilla WoW fans who crave legacy servers is ample proof of this. It’s hard to fathom the madness at Blizzard when they will ignore almost a million fans and then pivot the entire company on a leftist trajectory based on a post from one disgruntled social justice warrior on Tumblr.
As Blizzard goes deeper down the rabbit hole of embracing identity politics and engaging in social justice virtue signaling, other video game studios — especially those in former Soviet bloc countries who know what living under real repression and tyranny are like — are traveling on a different trajectory by creating video games free from the yoke of progressive ideology. The West can learn a lot from countries that have lived under the yoke of communist tyranny because they understand the importance of freedom all too well because they were once deprived of it. Paradoxically, I believe that Eastern Europe will one day save Western Europe. We need to support these companies and vote with our dollars because, at the end of the day, the real religion of the entertainment industry is the worship of money. Take away their money and they will squirm like vampires in daylight and their paint by numbers socially conscious values will evaporate like the morning dew.
Every dog has its day. With sadness, I believe the Blizzard we once knew is forever lost and will never recover the unique independence and artistic integrity they once had. We didn’t change, Blizzard changed. They broke faith with their loyal fans and discarded them for new fans.
I long for the golden days when humanity seemed more innocent and video games were not embroiled in a culture war where gamers were preemptively attacked by posturing social justice warriors who see a bigot under every bed that they must expose and shame. We who love video games are like the naive Hobbits in The Shire of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. For decades, we have been enjoying our video games largely unnoticed and under the radar. Those halcyon days are over and we Hobbits are faced with the intrusion of a hostile band of usurpers, malcontents, and inquisitors that are hell bent on destroying the harmless hobby we hold dear.
There is a war going on for the soul of Western civilization. There are dark forces at work that are reshaping science, politics, religion, culture, demographics and even truth itself. It’s not a war we wanted but like the Hobbits, we can no longer sit idly by and do nothing. If you care about video games and you care about the wonderful civilization that has been bequeathed to us by the hard work and sacrifice of our ancestors then please do not go gentle into the good night of oblivion. We must defend ourselves, our values, and the way of life we hold dear, while we still can.
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