Blizzard has delayed the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands reveal event it had planned for June 9. In an announcement posted to social media, the company stated the following:
More important voices than ours need to be heard, and now is the time to listen.
We are postponing our upcoming World of Warcraft: Shadowlands livestream planned for June 9, and will share more details about the expansion in the future.
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) June 5, 2020
This World of Warcraft: Shadowlands event is not the first to be postponed at the moment due to current events. Sony recently postponed its PlayStation 5 event, and IGN delayed its Summer of Gaming event.
These announcements are a reaction to mass protests that have been happening in the U.S. and around the world to protest unchecked police brutality, especially against the black community. Kicked off by the news of yet another black man, George Floyd, being murdered by the police over a petty crime he may not even have been responsible for, the protests are objecting to the racism that has remained unchecked for decades, if not much longer.
Needless to say, many companies, Blizzard included, are not feeling a whole lot like talking about fun gaming times like World of Warcraft: Shadowlands at the moment. Especially with so many reports of the police responding to complaints of police brutality with even more police brutality, which has been well documented across social media.
Blizzard hasn’t always been perfect in its past, but it has been making attempts to show more inclusivity, starting with examples like more diverse character customization options. However, something it could still do is make sure there are more black characters in World of Warcraft, a fact that community manager Josh Allen acknowledges and hopes to see himself:
I just now realized that you probably meant lore characters and not player characters, my bad. Yes I agree, we need more story characters of darker skin tones. Hopefully the new options help the story designers make that happen!
— Josh Allen aka devolore (@devolore) June 5, 2020
Recently, many have been asking what they can do in the face of institutional racism and police brutality. One easy thing is to use whatever platform you have to tell more than simply white (or blue or purple, which, let’s be frank, doesn’t count) stories. And Blizzard has a golden opportunity here with World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
We know that Azeroth is a sphere. We also know that every country we’ve visited celebrates the same seasons as the ones we already know. That means all of the Azeroth we’ve known has been based in the Northern Hemisphere. We also know that the coming leveling system is about to change leveling forever — for example, no longer are you locked into playing a human from a very specific geographic location. If you play a human, you can come from anywhere as long as you are part of the Alliance. Let’s remember all of this when it comes to introducing more black characters.
It would be nice to seem more diversity in the games we play and, you know, less police brutality. That doesn’t feel like it should be a controversial statement.