The annual BlizzCon convention attracts online video game fans from all over the world hoping to connect with friends, check out the costumes, and log some playtime with the newest iterations of Blizzard Entertainment's massively popular games like World of Warcraft and Diablo. However, many LGBT gamers (and otherwise) felt suddenly unwelcome following the screening of an expletive and anti-gay slur filled video at the conventions closing presentation. Following a week of fan and user outcry, the company's own president has stepped up to take responsibility and offer an apology.
The video was meant as a humorous introduction to the lead singer of the band that was about to play onstage, and consisted of excerpts from an old on-camera interview with him in which he repeatedly expressed his hatred of rival World of Warcraft players (he belongs to a faction called "the Horde") using the words "h*mo" and the f-word among others. Though the language in the video was bleeped out, it's original content was well-known enough among players that they were shocked to see it being shown onstage, much less offered up as entertainment. It was also depicting precisely the type of homophobia-tinged, verbal harassment companies like Blizzard should be trying to curb.
A more casual apology was posted in Blizzard's forums earlier in the week, but many users contacted GLAAD about it, saying they felt the apology wasn't actually taking responsibility for the incident or admitting any error in judgment. GLAAD was able to speak with Blizzard's representatives yesterday and express the concerns we had and that we'd received, who did seem legitimately distressed that they'd potentially hurt or alienated many of their users due to the week's events. By this point, Blizzard President Mike Morhaime was also working on his own statement, which you can read below:
Dear members of the Blizzard community,
I have read your feedback and comments about this year's BlizzCon, and I have also read the feedback to the apology from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. I'd like to respond to some of your feedback here.
As president of Blizzard, I take full responsibility for everything that occurs at BlizzCon.
It was shortsighted and insensitive to use the video at all, even in censored form. The language used in the original version, including the slurs and use of sexual orientation as an insult, is not acceptable, period. We realize now that having even an edited version at the show was counter to the standards we try to maintain in our forums and in our games. Doing so was an error in judgment, and we regret it.
The bottom line is we deeply apologize for our mistakes and for hurting or offending anyone. We want you to have fun at our events, and we want everyone to feel welcome. We're proud to be part of a huge and diverse community, and I am proud that so many aspects of the community are represented within Blizzard itself.
As a leader of Blizzard, and a member of the band, I truly hope you will accept my humblest apology.
- Mike Morhaime President, Blizzard Entertainment
GLAAD would like thank Blizzard and Mr. Morhaime for taking responsibility for what occurred and offering a personal, mature, and sincere statement. For the sake of Blizzard's LGBT fans, we hope many of them feel welcomed by the company again and that Blizzard itself will truly take these sentiments to heart when dealing with issues of online harassment moving forward.