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A couple dozen Blizzard employees walked out of work Tuesday in protest of the company’s decision to ban a professional Hearthstone player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters over the weekend, according to The Daily Beast.
The employees met at a giant statue depicting an Orc Warrior outside of the Activision Blizzard offices in California. According to the Beast, employees came and went as the day continued on and topped off at around 30 concurrent workers. Someone claiming to be a Blizzard employee posted a photo of workers sitting beside the statue on the r/Hearthstone subreddit, where it was met with praise from members of the Reddit community.
Earlier this week, Blizzard banned professional Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung from participating in tournaments for a year after he yelled a pro-Hong Kong slogan during a post-game interview. “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” Blitzchung said with his mouth covered by a mask similar to what the protesters wear themselves.
Blizzard is also withholding any winnings Blitzchung would have received for his participation in this past weekend’s Grandmasters tournament.
In addition to its own employees, Blizzard has been blasted with criticism from lawmakers, other game developers, and its player communities. On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party.” He continued, “No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.”
Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, told The Verge that it would support the speech rights of its players and refuse to ban them for their political beliefs. “Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights,” a company spokesperson said.