For the past few days, the Twitter outrage mob have been demanding that Blizzard remove all references to alleged sexual harasser Alex Afrasiabi from World of Warcraft. Petitions have surfaced as well. Some have even suggested that Blizzard take those NPCs that Alex foolishly named after himself and put them in the all male prison in Stormwind called the Stockades. Strangely enough, there are no all female prisons in Azeroth. Perhaps in the name of equality, diversity and inclusion Blizzard could add an all female prison where players can go in and kill all the NPC inmates like they do in the Stockades?
Kotaku reports that Blizzard is planning on removing all references to Afrasiabi from WoW in the next week. Here’s the official tweet from the WoW Twitter account:
Even Activision-Blizzard mogul Bobby Kotick has just pledged the following:
In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content.
What offensive content and who decides what is? Just the NPCs named after Afrasiabi? Or maybe there is more “offensive content” that the Twitter mob is angry about too?
Regrettably, the blue haired identity politics activists within Blizzard are not wasting any time and are already using this tragedy to further their own warped victimhood agenda within the beleaguered studio. They pressured the WoW team to include claptrap and dog whistles like “marginalized groups”, “sexual orientation”, “welcoming”, and “inclusive” etc. into the message. It’s all so tiresome and predictable.
From a legal perspective, if Blizzard were to give in to the mob and pull a Soviet style erasure of the NPCs in question, it would be a huge mistake. By doing this Blizzard would be admitting that the allegations against him are true. They would be preemptively throwing him undering the bus. If this case ever gets to trial, there is no doubt that the sharp legal minds would use this against them as present it as a tacit admission of guilt.
Afrasiabi is small potatoes here and is not the real target, the real target is the corporation that allowed him and others to get away with this alleged misconduct for all those years.
Over the past 17 years, Blizzard has foolishly allowed their designers to include all kinds references to themselves in WoW. Putting a memorial to yourself in a fantasy virtual world is vanity as it’s worst and another example of the immaturity and sheer stupidity of the Blizzard management and their developers. Rob Pardo was leading the WoW design team then, why on earth did he allow this to happen?
On a personal note, I always hated the fact that Afrasiabi named so many NPCs after himself. I would always do a /rude emote every time I had the misfortune to pass by one of the many living monuments he created to himself in Azeroth.
Blizzard is panicking right now and are facing an employee revolt. So it looks like they are going ahead with this Stalinist cancellation of Afrasiabi’s cringey references to himself. While they are at it, they should remove references to all Blizzard employees past and present from WoW as who knows what other bad behavior will soon be coming to light. If they did this, they could not be called out for throwing him under the bus. They should also remove all pop culture references from the MMO. It was unoriginal and sophomoric in the first place.
Update: the purge has begun
I am afraid Alex A. is going to be the scapegoat for a damn lot of Blizzards founders. He, Kaplan, Pardo matured over the years, their attitude and postings in the Fires of Heaven forums and elsewhere.
We must also clearly differentiate between his very good work on WoW and his possible misconduct. How bad it really was we do not know. Was he groping, seducing, mobbing, raping? There is quite a spectrum there.
If he is guilty of a serious crime, his bosses also failed. Morhaime and Brack in particular. And the usual circle of people who did know but did nothing. Are they throwing him under the boss to cover themselves? The silent departures at Blizzard over the last year(s). Hmm…
We had a similar celebrity fall, but let’s wait, I want to hear if Afrasiabi was anything like Weinstein, who also helped create a lot of very good movies. Right now, he is in prison, and the good people at Wikipedia made sure his most villainous looking photo is shown first.
Alex has an enormous number of NPCs in the world named after him. Excessively so. I wonder if he named them all himself or if some other people honored him as well.
For Blizzard, probably regardless how guilty Afrasiabi is or not, this is probably the end as game studio that is going to deliver anything. Activision Blizzard is big and bloated, the old guard and talent long gone. From a gamer perspective, they left a legacy, but no heirs up to the task to expand or keep it alive.
I will remember him as part of a team that made the most successful MMO in the world. Their success and impact has to be admired. He and others among the founders of this legendary studio/WoW team will be held responsible and punished depending on how guilty they are.
Games and film industry have something in common: If success is there, people usually can get away with anything. That’s bad working conditions for employees, money mostly for the bosses, little for the workers. And apparently sexism and sexual assault at work were also part of the famed studio.
Blizzard will continue to exist. But it will be a new studio with new people. The old guard has shown that great designers are not necessarily great bosses or human beings.
I would still say people better wait for the results of the investigation before crucifying one person. There might be more, and his guilt and the severity is still not decided.
Damnatio memoriae: I always hated it. Add their crimes to their great deeds. So yeah, maybe put another Afrasiabi NPC in one of the prisons, IF he is guilty as charged. Right now there is only the diffuse accusation of a sexual offense.
But this prison might be full of Blizzard employees. There might not be much left of early and later WoW zones if the work of the condemned should also be removed.
Right now, an angry internet mob is dissecting every word some of the accused ever said or wrote somewhere up to dozens of years ago.
Justice must be just and not left to a mob, particularly not the part of the mob abusing justice for propagation of their agenda. I hope those who suffered get compensated as far as possible and those who caused grief punished for what they did or failed to stop and prevent.
Let’s see how bad it really was. Probably somewhere in the middle between the massively exaggerated claims and the strong accusations thrown around. In any case, the currently existing Blizzard has little not nothing left of the Blizzard that made legendary games. And I am afraid they have no future either, diverse and inclusive or not.