Thoughts on the Blizzard/Blitzchung situation from a former Hearthstone player - Two months later
It's been two months since Blizzard initially banned Blitzchung following one of his wins at the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament in which he stated his support for the Hong Kong protests in a post-win interview. In the interview he stated "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time!". For that statement, Blizzard initially suspended him for a year, took back the thousands of dollars that he had earned, as well as firing the two casters involved. The Hearthstone community soon took notice and seemingly hundreds, if not thousands, of players decided to leave the game. While some players didn't care, many voiced their opinions on the Hearthstone subreddit for at least a week following the incident. I was one of those players.
Some things have changed since then of course such as Blitzchung being given the prize money that he earned, his suspension being reduced from a year to six months, and the casters being allowed to have their jobs back. Following the initial incident, the president of Blizzard has since issued two non-apology statements in regards to it, the first one happened sometime after the incident and the most recent one at BlizzCon 2019.
I started playing Hearthstone roughly two and a half years ago. I had played Yu-Gi-Oh when I was a kid, but had never really been into card games until I discovered Hearthstone. I was browsing through Twitch one day and stumbled across the PlayHearthstone Twtich channel where they were streaming the Hearthstone World Championship. As silly as it sounds, seeing that awesome light-up trophy is what made me want to start playing in the first place. It looked so cool and I really wanted to win it one day. I was never really into eSports, but since the game was free and I had some spare time I thought... why not try?
I started off casually maybe playing a few games each day. Back then, I didn't even know what words like meta, buff, or nerf even meant (I was more of a causal gamer in the few years before I started playing Hearthstone). After awhile, I started binge watching players on Twitch and on Youtube and eventually got better. I started buying packs and within a year or so, I was able to hit Rank 5 which was a huge deal for me! I never hit Legend rank sadly but did manage to get up to Rank 3 a few times and that was pretty awesome. After the Blizzard/Blitzchung situation though, I dusted all my cards and uninstalled the game. That's when I got into Gods Unchained myself, but others who left found other games that they preferred to play instead.
At this point you're probably wondering why I haven't really talked much about my thoughts on the situation looking back and I guess the answer is because "to know where you're going, you got to know where you've been". The memories of playing Hearthstone are nice, but for me now they're only that... memories.
Was I mad at Blizzard? Absolutely, I was pissed! I'm not really pissed anymore because honestly... they're not worth my time anymore. It's not like I drink my morning coffee and mumble under my breath "Fuck Blizzard!"
I support the Hong Kong protests personally and I think Blizzard was too harsh in their punishment. Even after they reduced his punishment it still seemed like too much honestly. They said that it took away from the tournament, but did it really? I don't think a few seconds of him talking took away from the tournament at all. It's not like he was just shouting racist stuff or anything. If they would have done nothing, then honestly most people probably wouldn't have cared. Maybe a couple articles would have been written about it, but the situation would have blown over much quicker.
I don't really like talking about politics. I play video games to get away from the negativity of the world, to talk with and hang out with people who share a similar hobby. Video games are meant to be fun. If you're not having fun playing a game then why are you even playing at all?
In a way, I'm kind of glad it happened though. I've been much happier since I left. I've started playing Gods Unchained. I'd heard of the game before the incident, but when I heard that they would offer Blitzchung his prize money that he earned that Blizzard refused to give him at the time it ultimately made me jump ship over to Gods Unchained.
They say that time heals all wounds and I think that's true. It wasn't really easy to walk away from a game that I played religiously for over two years and probably spent $1,000 for card packs on, but I felt like it was a decision that I had to make and I don't regret it. Through Gods Unchained, I've made some new friends and overall I like the game. There's several things that I don't like about it, but that'll probably be the subject of my next article so stay tuned for that!