TN Boffins Ask Blizzard for Public Statement on Harassment Policy

Several of the Terra Nova folk have written an open letter to Blizzard. They ask the publisher of World of Warcraft for a formal statement saying that their Game Master was wrong to sanction player Sara Andrews for recruiting for her gay-friendly guild in WOW‘s public chat channels. They also ask that Blizzard make a public statement about the issues surrounding this controversy.

We are greatly relieved that Blizzard appears to have changed its decision in this specific case, although it is not clear what Blizzard’s general policy is in relation to these sorts of issues. We urge Blizzard to make a public statement that the mention of homosexuality in general chat is not offensive. Beyond this, we also suggest that Blizzard investigate ways of making WoW more inclusive for GLBT guilds and players. WoW is a remarkable place, and we believe that it points to the future of networked communities and communications. Blizzard is supportive of gay players and guilds, and has the difficult job of balancing the interests and playstyles of millions of players. Usually it does an excellent job of this. But its decision in this case was wrong, and as a leader in the development of virtual worlds it should make a public statement to this effect.

It would be deeply regrettable if incidents such as this were ignored, when they might be used to explore how we can live together within the virtual worlds.

Oh, and Blizzard Entertainment would like to hire Customer Service Representatives to serve as Game Masters in World of Warcraft. After this recent PR debacle, I hope that Blizzard, in addition to clarifying their code of conduct and harassment policy, will look at (re)training their GMs so that they interpret the rules more sensibly.