The protests for Hong Kong's democracy as spilled from the streets to the world of gaming and esports. Chung ‘blitzchung’ Ng Wai, a professional Hearthstone player and native to Hong Kong, called for the liberation of Hong Kong, and stated his support for the protests.
Blizzard Entertainment did not take kindly to the statements.
In what became a huge controversy, Blizzard suspended blitzchung for a year, suspended his winnings, and fired the casters who interviewed him... and as is typical on the internet, received immediate backlash from the community. Players have uninstalled Blizzard's games, cancelled their World of Warcraft submissions, and posted pictures online of the process, protesting in their own way, the harsh punishment of free speech. Blizzard employees even staged a walk out to protest the ban of blitzchung. With the community response, Blizzard did lighten the punishment, giving blitzchung his winnings back and shortening the ban from one year to six months.
But now a new survey has emerged that seems to say that more Blizzard employees support the ban rather than criticize it.
The team at Blind launched a small, two-question survey - which professionals from across different industries could answer, not just employees from Blizzard - asking if (1) the ban on blitzchung should be lifted, and (2) if Blizzard should have a free speech policy for players concerning controversial topics involving China. Of the employees at Blizzard who took the survey, 64% said the ban should not be reversed, and 68% said that free speech for players over controversial topics should not be allowed.
At first glance, the numbers seem disheartening. A Blind developer confirmed with the original report that the numbers had not been padded by Blizzard, as there hadn't been an influx of new accounts created after the survey was released.
So is it true? Despite the walkout, and the callouts to Blizzard online, do most employees really feel like the company should continue to cater to China's well-wishes?
It's difficult to say. Taking a closer look at the survey data shows that while the percentage is a majority, only 50-70 employees took the survey of the 500 who have an account with Blind. That's a mere 10-14% of people who had chose to answer. And the number grows even smaller when you take into account the fact that Blizzard has upwards of 4,700 employees.
Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) October 8, 2019
Both the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6Q
Because of the anonymous nature of the survey, it is possible that this sentiment is an accurate reflection of the rest of the company, as employees can answer honestly without fear of repercussion. However, it's also clear that there are employees who feel strongly about this, enough to risk their jobs over it. Without knowing the thoughts of each employee, and with such a small sample size of both for and against, it's difficult to say either way.
The numbers seem disheartening, but they should be taken with a grain of salt.