'I care about Blizzard but the Hong Kong situation is dire': the gaming convention rocked by protest

This year’s BlizzCon, a 35,000-strong event in California for fans of World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Hearthstone, was embroiled in a battle over free speech and China

Eric did not imagine this would be how he would spend his first BlizzCon. The 26-year-old World of Warcraft (WoW) player from Glendale, California, was at the annual fan event in Anaheim held by Blizzard, the games company behind global hits such as Warcraft, Overwatch and more. Each year, more than 35,000 people pack into the city’s vast convention centre to play games, attend talks and share in their fandom.

But at this year’s event, held last weekend, there was a different feel. Instead of WoW cosplay, Eric was sporting a mask as worn by Hong Kong protesters to shield their faces from tear gas and facial recognition. And rather than joining in with the hype during panels about the forthcoming World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion, he was outside the convention centre handing out “Liberate Hong Kong” flyers, adorned with the protestors’ adopted symbol, the Overwatch character Mei.

Related: I'm a Blizzard gamer. I am boycotting them over their Hong Kong censorship | Dylan Curran

Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.

Both the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6Q

Related: 'No regrets': Hong Kong Hearthstone gamer banned over pro-democracy support

Blizzard's Chinese Weibo wrote:

"We are very angered and disappointed at what happened at the event and do not condone it in any way. We also highly object the spreading of personal political beliefs in this manner...We will always respect and defend the pride of our country."

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