It’s been a tumultuous end to last week and to add to the mix outrage and social media grandstanding. Now it looks like Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, is warning its own casters to keep clear of politics.
Let’s be fair, the fallout from the recent Hong Kong casting incident hasn’t left Blizzard in the best light here in the west. The very late statement from Blizzard’s J. Allen Brack on Friday evening didn’t do a whole lot to change the narrative of the recent casting incident and now it looks like Riot Games are taking steps to avoid any type of similar situation on their end. Via social media, Riot published a post from John Needham, Global Head of LOL ESports. In the statement, the company referred to the sensitive nature of the Hong Kong situation and the fact that they are unable to give these issues a fair and nuanced hearing in the realm of game casting. While this might seem a little disingenuous, the twitter comments do seem to reflect this.
A message from John Needham, Global Head of League of Legends Esports pic.twitter.com/5Au9rE7T86
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 11, 2019
Riot is, however, also owned by Tencent. With a less than harmonious history between the two already, it is unlikely that Riot would welcome any fan or player action that will result in a less than glowing response for its Chinese owners. The decision to reach out to gamers could be considered a proactive step and certainly approached the issue in a much more timely fashion than Blizzard’s own week-long silence.
For those that haven’t been keeping up with the news, you can find out more about the Blizzard Boycot here. To quote our own Emily Byrnes
“In a move that is quickly becoming international news, Activision Blizzard has pulled the prize money, taken away his Grandmaster ranking, and banned Hong Kong Hearthstone pro player “Blitzchung” from competing in Hearthstone esports for another 12 months.
This decision comes on the heels of a live interview that took place after a major victory for the pro player in Taipei. Towards the end of the interview, both casters laid face down on their shared desk while Blitzchung rallied into his microphone in Mandarin: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” After this declaration, the interview cut off.”
While Riot tries to dodge the oncoming storm and Blizzard released a statement late on Friday, it seems that politics are in no mood to steer clear of video games. We didn’t catch the first appearance, but it appears that the current President of the United States now has a verified twitch account. He joins Bernie Sanders on the Amazon-owned streaming platform and has already started reaching out to gamers. It’s all a bit bizarre and I’m not sure what to make of it. What we do know is that you can check out more about the week as it went and the arrival of Trump on Twitch in our weekly review here.