Riot Games is urging commentators and players to keep their personal views on sensitive issues private during League of Legends broadcasts. The announcement follows the controversy surrounding Blizzard and Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai.
Riot Games Statement
Nearing the League of Legends World Championship Group stage, the Global Head of League of Legends Esports John Needham released a statement regarding the broadcasts. In the statement, Needham explains that they reminded casters and pro players to avoid talking about sensitive topics, be it about politics or religion.
According to Needham, they want to keep the broadcasts’ focus on the game and the players and that such sensitive topics require “deep understanding and a willingness to listen.” What’s more, he states that with employees and fans from places with political or social unrest such as Hong Kong, they want to ensure that the actions on their broadcasts would not escalate the already-sensitive issues.
“We’ll always strive to deliver a great competitive experience for players and fans,” Needham said. “It may be idealistic, but we hope that League of Legends can be a positive force that brings people together, no matter where they are in the world.”
Needham’s announcement comes soon after the controversy surrounding Blizzard when it suspended Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for a year for declaring his support for the Hong Kong protests. The move immediately received backlash from many, with about a dozen to 30 Blizzard employees even walking out of the company’s California office as a protest.
Fortnite creator Epic Games also spoke out about the issue, with CEO Tim Sweeney saying that the company supports players for speaking out about human rights and politics.
It is worth noting that Riot Games has been fully owned by Chinese company Tencent since 2015. Tencent also owns portions of Epic Games and Blizzard as well. Whether or not this shows the companies picking sides, what is clear is that even the gaming community is being affected by political issues.