BlizzCon Protest Organized by Gamers for Freedom Supporting Hong Kong to Begin Tomorrow
Nonprofit movement Gamers for Freedom has made plans for a formal protest
Blizzard Entertainment is expecting to pull out all the stops for this year’s BlizzCon, which is anticipating an announcement for an Overwatch 2. But along with a crowd of fans, the game company can also expect a wave of dissent. In the wake of Blizzard’s suspension of Hearthstone professional player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung over a statement of support for the protests in Hong Kong, many from the gaming community have organized a formal protest to take place during BlizzCon 2019.
The protest is spearheaded by a movement called “Gamers for Freedom,” which itself is a project stemmed from the non-profit organization Fight for the Future. Per a press release, the November 1 protest, which will primarily take place from noon to 3:00 pm local time, will “be filled with passionate speakers, fun events, and acts of legal, nonviolent protest.” As the release mentions, there will be “plenty of activity before and after the official protest hours.”
Another organization known as Freedom Hong Kong will hand out 4,000 “Mei with Hong Kong” t-shirts to BlizzCon attendees and protestors, part of community members’ attempts to brand the Overwatch character of Mei as a symbol of pro-Hong Kong protests. Also present at the protest will be cosplayers Zephronica and YX, the former gaining viral attention with her Mei cosplay on Reddit.
Going along with that, the protest will feature a cosplay contest, followed by a number of speakers, including members of the American University Hearthstone team who were banned from competition for similar messages of support during a tournament livestream. For those who won’t be present at the convention itself, Gamers for Freedom encourages signing their online petition, mass-tweeting at game companies, and direct donations to support organizing costs.
This year’s BlizzCon comes at a point of reckoning for Blizzard and a number of Western corporations and organizations, such as the NBA, now under more scrutiny for their ties with China and Chinese companies while remaining silent on the Hong Kong protests or silencing supporters of those protests.
The saga has marred recent releases such as Overwatch on Switch, with Nintendo announcing the cancellation of a launch event for the port, and reports of internal protests amongst Blizzard over the Blitzchung suspension have arisen as well. Per the Los Angeles Times, security presence has already increased around the Blizzard campus due to protests.
Even members of Congress have weighed in on the issue, with a bipartisan letter from members of the United States Congress, including unlikely allies like freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio, urging to reverse the suspension of Blitzchung. While an ill-received statement from Blizzard mentioned that the suspension had been shortened, many community members remain fervorous.
It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of coalition Gamers for Freedom will be able to gather in-person in Los Angeles and online across social media platforms. As BlizzCon commences over the weekend, DualShockers will be sure to report on developments from both the convention and the adjacent protests.