theotherbaldwin: (Default)
(until my posting abilities on my 1up blog gets fixed, I'll be sticking my video game ramblings here)

Via Alice Taylor's wonderful gaming blog Wonderland, Blizzard was recently warned by Lambda Legal regarding its "gay rights" policies in a letter addressed to Vivendi In-House Counsel and the president of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime .

Some choice excerpts from the letter:

Although Blizzard is well within its rights to insist that players avoid referring to other gamers in an “insulting manner,” Blizzard cannot issue a blanket ban on any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity. There is nothing “insulting” about identifying oneself as gay, lesbian or transgender, nor does the announcement of a guild for LGBT gamers constitute “harassment” in any sense of the word. If other players react insultingly to the mere presence of LGBT gamers, then Blizzard should discipline the harassers, not attempt preemptively to silence the potential victims of harassment.


...


In the few short years since the advent of multi-user dungeons, the world of online gaming has grown from a niche hobby enjoyed by a small community of enthusiasts to a phenomenon shared by millions. We understand that the rapid growth of the online environment has created challenges for companies like Blizzard, who are striving to ensure a civil and enjoyable experience for a large and diverse body of gamers. We hope that you will realize that silencing LGBT gamers, and requiring that they remain invisible to their fellows within the online gaming world, is not an acceptable means of advancing that end.


Lambda Legal is taking this quite seriously, as evidence by the closing paragraph:
In order to avoid any similar incidents in the future, we ask that you inform all of Blizzard’s system administrators that they are not to discipline any players for mentioning or discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in a non-insulting fashion. We also ask that Blizzard confirm that LGBT-friendly guilds are allowed to announce their existence in the same manner as any other guilds. Of course, Lambda Legal would be more than happy to offer any advice we can to assist Blizzard in crafting a nondiscriminatory clarification of the terms of service for W.O.W., or in providing guidance to the administrators enforcing Blizzard’s anti-harassment guidelines. We ask that you respond within thirty days of the date of this letter to avoid the need for further action.
theotherbaldwin: (what?)
Via Acidforblood.net, a transcript of an in-game chat between a player and an official World of Warcraft Game Master confirming that same-sex character "marraiges", even if the two characters are played by real-life couples whom are members of the opposite sex, would violate the company's harassment guidlines. Character marraige is a previously accepted part of in-game content.

Now this virtual-world controversey is spilling into the real world, as Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest legal network of advocates for the GLBT community in the USA.

Via Kotaku, Brian Chase, an attorney for Lambada Legal had this to say:

“You can’t tell gay and lesbian people that they have to be quiet so other folk won’t harass them,” Chase said. “If you want to stop harassment you have to stop the harassers not the victims.”

Chase added that under California law a place of business cannot be discriminatory.


While I did call that development on on Jan. 30, it remains to be seen what effect this possible action will have on in-game policies.

(cross-posted to my 1UP.com blog)

(Edit- Update: For a game that doesn't want people to espouse orientation for fear of inciting harassment, why, then, are silly audio in-game quotes like this okay:
  • Male Taureen /silly audio: "Homogenized? No way, I like the ladies."

  • Female Dwarf /silly audio: "I like my ale like I like my men, dark and rich."

  • Male Dwarf /silly audio: "I like my beer like I like my women, stout and bitter."

Doesn't this present a bit of a double standard?)
theotherbaldwin: (what?)
(cross-posted with my my 1up.com blog)

...according to In News Weekly.
So what do you do when you're praised by several gay gaming groups, and the noticablepresence of hundreds-strong LGBT-positive player groups, developer Blizzard has decided the presence of out gay subscribers would "allow for discussion that we feel has no place in our game".

Blizzard officially responds via Caydiem, a community manager on the forums in the US. Sadly, this verifies that this action wasn't due to some over-zealous Game Master, but that it's official policy to forbid any dicssion or metnion of "topics related to sensitive real-world subjects -- such as religious, sexual, or political preference" in-game.

OIf course, what many people are failing to realize is thatt this policy bans any talk of straight relationships, partners and so on as well.

Blizzard had better enforce both sides of this ban on any mention of sexuality, or this truly is a discrimanatory policy.

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