Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has addressed the inclusion of politics in video games, stating that he more or less wants to keep the focus on the fun and not on the events in the world.
As Kotaku highlights, Mr. Kotick had an interview with CNBC at the CNBC Evolve conference. A lot of subjects were covered (as one might expect from a business conference), but they also headed into the territory of politics in video games. Bobby Kotick had more than a few words to say on the matter, but let's take a moment to look back at some of the more recent controversies in Activision Blizzard Games.
The Recent Controversies in ActiBlizz Games
Perhaps still somewhat fresh in people's minds is the whole Hong Kong incident. After pro Hearthstone player Ng "blitzchung" Wai Chung was banned for a year (since reduced to six months) for uttering a pro-Hong Kong message on a post-match livestream, things blew up in Blizzard communities, ultimately culminating in a series of protests at Blizzcon 2019 and casting a shadow over the convention.
While that was the big one recently, there have been some other minor problems, too. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare caught some flak for attributing a "highway of death" to the Russians in the game's fictional country, whereas the real-world Highway of Death was caused by Americans attacking retreating Iraqi armor and infantry. It was seen by some as whitewashing one of the more controversial actions in combat undertaken by American forces.
'[We’re] not the operator of the world’s town halls'
Speaking with CNBC's Becky Quick, Bobby Kotick seems to want to keep his company's games focused on fun and not any real-world political stuff. Stating that "we're not the operator of the world's town halls", he instead contends that the company's focus should be providing a safe experience for people to have fun.
Here's the full quote of his response:
BECKY QUICK: You know, Bobby, what has been your experience as expectations for CEOs and for leadership, I think, have -- they have really ratcheted up, I think in part because politicians aren’t doing as much. I think people are turning to business leaders and expecting them to lead on a variety of subjects, and that can take you anywhere from Hong Kong and democracy to gaming additions and beyond. How do you grow into that role? What do you do?
BOBBY KOTICK: Well, you start with, our mission as a company is “Bringing the World Together Through Epic Entertainment.” You know, that’s a big mission. It has some similarities to, let’s say, a Facebook. But, you know, we’re not the operator of the world’s town halls. We’re the operator of the communities that allow you to have fun through the lens of a video game. And you know, I -- my responsibility is to make sure that our communities feel safe, secure, comfortable and satisfied and entertained. And so I don’t -- I don’t -- that doesn’t convey to me the right to have a platform for a lot of political views, I don’t think. I think my responsibility is to satisfy our audiences and our stakeholders, our employees, our shareholders. But I think there are some business people who are incredible examples of character and integrity and principle and have what you see are the great attributes of leadership, and I think that they are incredibly inspiring for me. But I think, you know, they do have the right to articulate views and visions and voices about government and policy and politics, and I love engaging with those people.
Some of you may disagree with the way that Activision Blizzard has handled some of its more recent controversies, but it seems pretty clear that Bobby Kotick has a good idea of the direction he'd like the company to be heading. Only time will tell whether or not that's a good thing.
What do you think of Bobby Kotick wanting to keep politics out of ActiBlizz's video game communities? Do you think he has the right idea? Let us know in the comments below!