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Gay/Lesbian Gamers Enflamed Over Warning

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-01-31

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An extension of the don't tell, don't ask military mantra, World of Warcraft publisher Blizzard Entertainment appears to have taken a different approach to interpreting a harassment policy: don't talk about being gay and nobody will bother you.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (glbt) players of the 5-million player strong online role-playing game are more than a bit confused after Sara Andrews received a warning email from Blizzard for forming a guild that was "not glbt only" but "glbt friendly." The email said Andrews' in-game recruiting was a violation of the game's sexual orientation harassment policy.

Citing the text of the games "Terms of Use," Blizzard quoted, ""This category includes both clear and masked language which insultingly refers to any aspect of sexual orientation pertaining to themselves or other players."

Unsure as to exactly what language constituted an insult and to whom that insult was directed, Andrews asked for clarification.

Blizzard responded, "we do feel that the advertisement of a 'GLBT friendly' guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise," and could "incite certain responses in other players that will allow for discussion that we feel has no place in our game."

This was confusing to Andrews because of keyboard commands in the game that allows players to say, "Homogenized? No way, I like the ladies!"

"They state that they don't want mention of sexuality in their game, for fear it may cause people to harass others," Andrews said. "Yet they have things like this in the game already that (were) put there by them."

In fact, the "gblt friendly" guild was to provide an environment away from chat rooms littered with words and phrases like "fag" and "that's so gay!"

Andrews will not be renewing her WOW account and Blizzard told CNet News that the company will be adding language to their harassment policy to include ""any language that could result in situations where players are going to break down into harassing debate. It's just not appropriate for a gaming environment."

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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