Friday, June 21, 2024

Gamers accuse Blizzard of rainbow capitalism over Pride merchandise

Blizzard Entertainment, the video game development studio that’s known for games like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Diablo, has been accused of rainbow capitalism by queer gamers over the inclusion of Pride merchandise in their Blizzard Store catalogue.

For those who don’t know, rainbow capitalism is the incorporation of the LGBTQIA movement by companies in order to make money off it. For some queer people, this may not matter all that much. After all, some would argue that the more we’re normalized throughout the world, the better we’ll be treated. Others however find this thinking does more harm than good, as putting more money into big companies that, outside of fancy rainbow-posturing, don’t do anything to support the LGBTQIA community, which ultimately screws us all over.

For a company like Blizzard however, who banned pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his support of the protests in Hong Kong back in 2019, as well as stated that hiring diverse candidates for every role is ‘unworkable‘, the inclusion of Pride merchandise feels like a slap in the face. That’s not even mentioning the fact that their CEO, Bobby Kotick, stated that there was no room for politics in video games.

Of course, not everyone met the inclusion of Pride merchandise with disdain. Michael Valentine, a World of Warcraft UI Senior Software Engineer at Blizzard Entertainment, spoke up about the accusations from queer gamers and to show their support of the shirts being included. According to Valentine, the inclusion of the shirts were a “labor of love by LGBT people” at the company.

“Seeing people criticizing Blizzard for rainbow capitalism, and I can understand that reflex. I’m here to set the record queer on this. I’m a queer, trans person who works at Blizzard.” Valentine said via Twitter. “These shirts were a labor of love by LGBT people at this company. They were designed and created by LGBT people here for Pride, and a lot of us wanted them to be made publicly available. After a lot of hard work by some awesome people at this company, we made it happen.”

Valentine went on to stay that for a long time the video game space felt inaccessible to them, mostly due to spaces not feeling representative of who they, and people like them, truly were, and as such, that they’ve spent 3.5 years at Blizzard trying to change that perception.

They also acknowledged that Blizzard still had a long way to go. “We are working on it every day. And visible representation is a big part of that. I’m really proud of the people who made these shirts happen, and I’m so glad to live in a world where our fans wanted them.”

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