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Maybe Blizzard Needs Their Own Filter?

taint.jpg

Over at the WOW Insider, Fox Van Allen has written an interesting article examining Blizzard's LGBT policies in World of Warcraft. Specifically because over on the WOW forums, it was discussed that "transexual" and "homosexual" are censored by Blizzard's mature language filter. The forum thread was locked down, but not before someone from Blizzard chimed in that there are words that aren't profanity that will be removed from the filter in a future patch.

That's all well and good, but the article then goes on to explore Blizzard's sketchy relationship with the LGBT community in general. Being that LGBT guilds are commonplace in MMOs, it kind of boggles my mind that apparently Blizzard tried to restrict them in WOW way back when. How did I not know this? Well, probably because I don't play MMOs or WOW, but still... You'd think that kind of slight would've at least popped onto my radar at some point.

Of course, what's also sad is that while Blizzard apparently had "homosexual" included in their mature language filter, they do not consider "faggot" or "fag" mature language at all. I know those are popular terms with lots of online players (reason #1 why I don't really play competitively online with people I don't already know), but that's no reason to encourage their use in the WOW online community.

If you're not already irritated enough, you can go ahead and click this link to read the full article. (Oh, and it should go without saying that you'll probably want to avoid the comments!) Hopefully if Blizzard gets enough bad press over this, they'll change their policies and make good. And if posting this helps in any small way, I'll feel better for having done my part.

Profanity Filters, Homophobic Slurs, and Blizzard's Shaky Relationship With The LGBT Community [WOW Insider]

18 Comments

Prelimar said:

as a long-time WoW player, and a gaymer, i feel i should chime in: to be fair to blizzard, regarding the old issue with the LGBT guild back in 2006 or so, they eventually admitted they were wrong and let the guild stand. in fact (and Fox didn't mention this for some reason), the Proudmoore server is KNOWN for being the most LGBTQ friendly server in all of WoW, being home to out, loud and proud guilds and LGBTQ supporters of all kinds. they have an annual pride parade that's massive and well-attended by many people from Proudmoore and other servers. i'm not a player on Proudmoore, but i LOVE the stories about Pride on their server every year.

every time blizzard has blundered on this issue since then, they always, always, always have been pretty quick to issue a heartfelt apology (from the CEO!) and a mea culpa, and then they proceed to set things right. they are learning, and that's all i can ask. i feel they do SO MUCH BETTER than any other game company out there, who let things just slide.

also, i wouldn't avoid the comments on this thread on WoW Insider... i'm proud of the WoW community. they are far more supportive than you would expect. there's a lot of positive, clear-headed comments there.

Shin Gallon said:

Glad I don't play WoW, never have, never will. Every exposure to it's community I've had has been a glimpse into a teeming cesspool of homophobic, immature 12 year olds. All that for $15 a month? Thanks, I'd rather just set the money on fire.

As a gay person who works for Blizzard (only CS, but still), I can assure you that any sort of incidents like these are oversights more than anything. The company has been more than welcoming to the LGBT community, going so far as to provide me and my partner the same health benefits as a married couple, even though Texas won't allow us to be recognized as such. So please, before you go trying to start some sort of pitchfork mob over insignificant incidents, please actually look into the company you're dealing with.

Vincent said:

@Randy These are not insignificant incidences. All these things together paint a very worrying picture. Let's not forget the Blizzcon closing ceremonies incident as well. There is an obvious disconnect. I would hope as an employee of Blizzard you would be more proactive in bringing these issues up rather than make excuses for them.

Bearfamily said:

Blizzard have no consistency when it comes to these issues, that is more my problem then them occuring due to oversight.

Homophobic Blizzcon closing = Quick apology

Then, they go and hire Chuck Norris for an ad campagin? Are the people in charge braindead? They just recover from one homophobic inceident then hire a HUGE homophobic langer to promote the game just to apease the immature manchildren who still find those joke (or ever) funny and 12 year olds. That isn't an oversight that's just willing to do what is needed to make money and damn whoever gets in their way.

David d said:

The Blizzcon Video incident led directly to me quitting WoW for good. What most of the WoW community, including Blizzard's management, fails to recognize is that hateful speech, in any context, leads to more than just hurt feelings. Objections to these terms are grounded in the constant threat of violence that many LGBT people experience.

BlackRabbit said:

Out of curiosity, where is Blizzard's heartfelt apology for filtering a non-slur like Homosexual while allowing an ACTUAL slur such as Fag? From an outsider perspective, it actually appears as though they ARE NOT learning.. and that is troublesome.

They are tacitly, and not-so-tacitly enabling harassment and potential violence.

Your implications in all of this are that they are doing it on purpose. They are not. Whether they are specifically considering all of the communities when they do this, I don't know. But you are acting as though Blizzard is purposefully attacking this community, which couldn't be further from the truth. The chat filter is an imperfect program, which anybody who programs can tells you isn't uncommon. Most people turn it off anyway, and regardless of whether or not at stupid filter works, the actions for such words are as high as it can get. No, those actions are not tolerated by any means.

As for Chuck Norris, I don't think they were hiring him for his political views. I could be crazy, but I'm pretty sure they had him in the commercials because Chuck Norris is a popular internet joke. Call me crazy on that one. On top of that, those videos were made well before the BlizzCon incident, so to say that they 'continued making bad judgements' and that they 'didn't learn their lesson' would be chronologically inaccurate.

Also, if you dropped a subscription from a game for the acts of a couple people, might I suggest never playing games again? I bet somebody on some team somewhere doesn't believe gays should get married. Can't take that chance, now can we?

Oh and hey, for the record, Faggot is on the censored list. Fag is probably just an oversight. But hey, let's get our bitchiest about it and throw a huge fit about how Blizzard hates teh gays.

Shin Gallon said:

Popular internet joke? In 2005 maybe.

Shin Gallon said:

I don't think they hate teh gays, I just think they make games that I don't enjoy playing. But if you want to be all Drama Queen over the fact that some people have a legitimate issue with how they inconsistently handle their relations with the LGBT community, be my guest.

jmerriex said:

As I understand, this issue has been portrayed slightly incorrectly. There was a "roll-back" to a previous version of the filter in 4.3. This was unintentional and is being fixed. It is a low priority which probably isn't a good thing.

As far as hiring Chuck Norris, while I didn't like it, I cannot act like Chuck Norris isn't a major part of WoW cannon due to the incessant amount of Chuck Norris jokes that prevailed in the game a few years ago. It has nothing to do with the gay community.

In closing, Wootini it's WoW not WOW... :P

jmerriex said:

P.S. Why does The Spreading Taint get love but no love for The Stonewall Family? FOR THE ALLIANCE!!!

http://www.thestonewallfamily.com/

I knew Gaygamer favored the Horde... bunch of twirling hippies if you ask me!

Wootini said:

jmerriex, it's because when I was looking on Google Image to find a piece of art to run with the story, that's what came up when I searched for WOW LGBT guild. Plus, I find the name hilarious. Yes, I'm six. But definitely plug your guild, too! (As I said in the article, I don't play WOW or any other MMOs, so I am not aware of any of the guilds!)

jmerriex said:

Yeah Taint is definitely dirty. They're a dirty, dirty guild. Their guild chat is like a Turkish bathhouse in July. That said, they're also The Stonewall Family's sister guild (the two guilds team up to do the annual Proudmoore Pride). So it's all good. In reality I'm just giving you a hard time, you guys rock :)

Talarian said:

I don't think Blizzard has done this intentionally. The original incident mentioned in Fox's article stemmed from Blizzard trying to avoid "drama" by basically filtering *everything* to do with sexuality (note Heterosexual is also a filtered word). Also note that XBox Live did the same until moderately recently.

I think Blizzard's savvy enough to understand that insulting the community is bad for business, and I don't think this is a case of maliciousness, but incompetence. It seems like they don't have a coherent overarching strategy when it comes to the language filter, and people are starting to uncover that. Blizzard is addressing the issues piecemeal, and I think they'd be better served to sit down and come up with a strategy instead of playing bug report whack-a-mole.

Mike said:

I pretty much agree with everything Randy said. Just throwing my two cents in, because I understand why he would get frustrated. I just think that we, as a community, have no sense of 'picking and choosing our battles.' I'm completely for fairness and equality, but sometimes things are just an oversight, or ignorance and not just a blatant discriminatory attack. I'm sure the matter will get the attention paid to it that it deserves, and if not, then there will be a time to get mad.

12thGay said:

Mentioned it before, but Blizzard uses anti-gay slurs in actual in-game dialog. There are two NPCs (that I know of) that use the slur "pansy" in a derogitory manner to players. One of these is in a quest added to the game with Cataclysm.

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12thGay on Maybe Blizzard Needs Their Own Filter?: Mentioned it before, but Blizzard uses anti-gay slurs in actual in-game dialog. There are two NPCs (that I know of)...

Mike on Maybe Blizzard Needs Their Own Filter?: I pretty much agree with everything Randy said. Just throwing my two cents in, because I understand why he would...

Talarian on Maybe Blizzard Needs Their Own Filter?: I don't think Blizzard has done this intentionally. The original incident mentioned in Fox's article stemmed from Blizzard trying to...

jmerriex on Maybe Blizzard Needs Their Own Filter?: Yeah Taint is definitely dirty. They're a dirty, dirty guild. Their guild chat is like a Turkish bathhouse in July....

Wootini on Maybe Blizzard Needs Their Own Filter?: jmerriex, it's because when I was looking on Google Image to find a piece of art to run with the...

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