Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear Blizzard

Use of homophobic slurs ahead.

Dear Blizzard,

Do you remember how I wrote to you a week or so ago to ask why you stopped censoring the word "rape" on the forums?

I didn't even realize, at the time, that you'd removed other words from the filter.

For example: fag.

I don't want to repeat my entire argument from last time, but here it is in short: You filtered the word in the first place because it's a disgusting, homophobic insult.  By censoring it, you discouraged your players from using it and signaled to them that it's not an appropriate word to toss around in idle or angry conversation.  By removing it from the filter, you're giving your players license to use the word whenever and however they wish.  "Never mind, go ahead and say it!  It's cool with us!"

You say that you take harassment seriously.  You claim that players aren't supposed to harass each other.  How do you imagine the word "fag" coming into the conversation in a way that isn't homophobic?  In what context do you anticipate players using that word in a sentence in a positive, friendly way?  And does that imagined context counterbalance all of the negative, nasty, homophobic uses?

I suppose that you'll suggest that if we find someone using homophobic language, we should report that person, and you'll handle it.  As usual, the onus is on the players to clean up the community, and you take a step back from responsibility.  You do realize, of course, that we were already reporting people for homophobic language.  We've been doing that all along.  Before, however, it seemed like we had your support in that; you were discouraging bad habits, censoring the most abused words, using your influence to squelch common, egregious homophobia.  Now, we're in this on our own, and if we don't report it, you won't do a thing about it.  You won't even bother to censor the words.  Remind me, again, how much effort that took on your part?

"Just report the offender," you say.  We all know, after all, how responsive and efficient the reporting system is.

I would love to understand the thought processes behind these decisions.  "It was wrong of us to discourage our players from using homophobic slurs and making rape jokes.  We should let their contempt run free!  Who cares if that makes the gaming community even more hostile to marginalized populations?  We've been using our influence to make WOW more inclusive, and that was obviously a mistake!"

The censor works automatically.  It's a "set it and forget it" sort of system.  Why not leave it alone?  Why make the decision to remove words from the filter?  Who had this idea?  Who decided what to include and what to remove?  I certainly don't want to sit down with a list of misogynist terms and racist slurs and see what makes it through the filter, but I would love to know which other delightful little words you've given your blessing lately.

With love,
Frank Lee

P.S. Again, that little problem I had?  Still a problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment