The Internet's reaction to this has warmed my heart a little. Overwatch and Hearthstone are among my favorite computer games. I've certainly played more Overwatch than any other game. I have made real-world and online friends in Overwatch. I met my girlfriend in Overwatch.
It made me sad to have to throw all that away yesterday.
But the conversations we're having as a result of this is great. The mainstream media is talking about it. Congress is talking about it. We're going to have to ask ourselves: can we really let China have this much influence? Is it really worth it? (Remember: this is what Europe is asking about Silicon Valley with things like GDPR, and it's working out quite well for them.)
Banning someone from Hearthstone GM doesn't matter. But we are heading down a path where we decide what our values are, and they're looking pretty good.
One thing to note -- it's not really troubling for a country to have a lot of influence. It's troubling for China to have as much influence as it does when it's directly trying to undermine freedoms that we have fought tooth and nail and died a million lives to get in The West.
This is not a question of a foreign country being different. This is a question of a foreign company forcing us to slowly give up the very things we consider to make us human -- our freedoms -- in exchange for a couple extra bucks. The fact that companies are willing to do it is pathetic. And I'm glad that people are finally waking up to this.
Hong Kong is literally protesting to have the right to a trail by jury! How anyone in The West could not take their side is baffling to me. I wish I was a gamer so I could boycott Blizzard. But I am a basketball player, and I'll make sure to tell everyone I can to boycott the NBA until they make this right.
The protesters are not wrong. The CCP is antithetical to our way of life in The West. Apologist companies to The CCP -- in my view -- are a direct threat to my freedom as a human being.
I’m amazed at just how open (and wrong) cctv’s recent reply to the nba scandal was:
“We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its statement in Chinese, which was translated by CNBC“
This is not just wrong, it’s so wrong it’s not even remotely compatible with how we define freedom. To see this in writing is just disturbing and sad that after all these decades of lip service on moderation and opening up and being a global participant, China is basically no different than it was under Mao.
The message from Heartstone's official Weibo account read similarly. It reads like it's written by a party member, not some corporate PR employee. It reads like something I'd expect to have come out of the USSR in the 80s. It's all very disturbing. It's also strangely familiar in that regard, and quite frightening when taken from that perspective.
That's Blizzard America, of course. If I'm not mistaken, there is technically no Blizzard _inside of_ China. They license their IP, etc..., to a Chinese (CCP approved) company-of-sorts who is then responsible for it's dealings inside China.
But, yes, something fucky is going on with their account management system, which is actively blocking people from disabling their accounts (via blocking account verification attempts, I believe).
If you look at free speech in Europe for example, in eg Germany there are laws against hate speech or defamation of individual people (quite differentiated, an opinion is ok and true facts are ok, but invented facts are not). One of the targets is Nazi propaganda, and in general the support is good.
Still, the goal is similar, social stability, peace and protection of minorities. People do not get disappeared, but they do get sued.
I sympathize with the idea, but how does one define hate speech? Couldn't The CCP claim that any speech in support of Hong Kong is speech in hate of The CCP? Limiting speech in anyway gets very slippery.
Oxford defines as follows: “abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
And it seems to be a general definition, I think sometimes it’s narrowed to threats or to calls for violence, I suppose?
The problem isn't that it's an unimaginable term; the problem is that every single person imagines it differently. Your definition of hate speech and my definition might be the same for some examples and drastically different for others. For some people, saying "men are not women" is considered hate speech, while others would say it has nothing to do with hate speech. Hate speech is inherently subjective, and banning it always results in the same question: who gets to decide what is hate speech?
In this particular instance? The German legislative branch drafted and passed the law(s?), and the German judiciary branch interprets it. People who are accused of practising hate speech are given an opportunity to defend themselves in court.
Despite the kind of hand-wringing about this that folks such as yourself routinely engage in over this subject, German society has somehow managed to survive and thrive despite this relatively minor limitation on their freedom of speech. They even have some hateful racist shitbags gaining seats in the Bundestag.
Everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t make a word meaningless. Of course there is some grey area, but if “men are not women” is the best example you can think of, I’m pretty sure most of law-educated people will quickly agree where the line is, if there’s ever a need. ;)
Read the actual judgement, and it's just about impossible to conclude that the conviction was anything but deserved and perfectly balanced.
The judge explicitly asked his defence to explore freedom of expression. He chose not to. The rest of his "defence" was laughable and easily disproved lies. The judge pointed out his failure to explore freedom of expression in his summing up. Short of using neon, how much more clearly could the judge have telegraphed it? The conviction was therefore on pure technical breach of the law with no mitigation.
Markus Meechan was left looking like a complete moron who threw away his opportunity of defence. In addition to being a bottom feeding racist. Oh, and a scammer as he crowdsourced a load of money for the defence he didn't bother offering.
Justice was done, and clearly seen to be done. I'm very comfortable with the balance of the law after that trial. Had the defendant bothered to offer a defence exploring freedom of expression, we might be discussing his acquittal.
Reading the judgement took my opinion from surprise at an apparently ridiculous verdict, to one that was entirely fitting.
>> a load of money
> deserved in my opinion
For what? A defence he did not use after encouragement?
Have you read the whole judgement? I think it's still available as a pdf on the court website. Not the carefully selected snippets and quotes dumped in the media. I recommend it, it's hilarious (at Meecham's expense), and IIRC only a couple of pages.
He had a defence. He chose not to use it, despite the judge explicitly encouraging him to. So after the judge points to the exit, he faces the other way and sulks.
He deserved conviction. Except we're not nearly done.
(From memory) His tale of the joke intended solely for his girlfriend was completely shredded as a pack of lies in court. His girlfriend didn't even subscribe to his channel, or know of his joke. The judge had a better awareness of how Youtube worked than the guy with the channel. In context the "private joke" was for mass distribution and nothing to do with his girlfriend.
Now he deserves prosecution for perjury. Moronic and obvious perjury, but perjury nonetheless. So bad I was laughing while reading the judgement. I think perjury carries the lengthier maximum sentence. We're still not done.
> It isn't anti-Semitic in context. Did you watch the video?
[Yes I did. The judge very clearly states the conviction is on the simple breach of the law. Context and mitigating circumstance is irrelevant as Meecham chose not to use the freedom of expression defence. Thus "in-context" does not matter at all.
So forget the pug. Forget the joke, the context, the way he made it totally not funny unless you're seven. It's obviously anti-semitic, but not especially harmful. Meecham accepts it's anti-semitic. It's not threatening compared to a march with dozens of thugs chanting the exact same phrases, into the faces of actual people. The law must cater for both ends of the threat scale being videoed and distributed. Clearly it is reasonable for there to be some offence, and some chance of mitigation for the lesser or technical breaches and parody or humour.
Repeating a phrase he accepts as racist, over and over, to clips of Hitler, jews and for some reason Buddha (IIRC, it's been a while), is clearly anti-semitic in context. Clearly it's not threatening on the scale of possibility of people using the same phrase and actions in a different context. Just a feeble joke, but accepted as anti-semitic by Meecham in court nonetheless. Still, he's not on trial for how funny he is or isn't either.
This is all 99.9% pointless discussion. None of this section is relevant as it's mitigation that the defendant chose not to use. Were he not a complete moron he would have most likely been reasonably acquitted for freedom of expression.]
He was offered an out by the judge in the context of the legal system. Then ignored it.
Reading the full judgement warmed my heart and restored a little faith in British justice.
OK, he's a moron as well as a convicted criminal, and clearly shown to be a perjurer. End of. I wonder what happened to the thousands he crowdsourced for his defence, but no-defence-offered really.
Is that the judgment? If so, when you say "He had a defence. He chose not to use it, despite the judge explicitly encouraging him to", are you referring to this part?
> I should note that although I invited both legal representatives to make legal submissions during the trial about the law on freedom of expression, that was done only to a very limited extent. In the absence of focused submissions on that topic by either the Crown or the defence, all I can say is that, while that right is very important, in all modern democratic countries the law necessarily places some limits on that right.
That's the one. I'd forgotten the Crown hadn't bothered either. The judge was trying to encourage an exploration of freedom of expression. Had the defendant bothered, he would likely have had very reasonable chance of acquittal or trivial fine in place of the £800. That the Youtube and "private joke for his girlfriend" aspects of his defence were shown up as lies probably didn't help his case. :)
The next paragraph is relevant to the context, as he makes clear that in the absence of those explorations, the conviction rests solely on the narrow fact of whether the law was breached or not. i.e. without any mitigation taken into account:
“This trial, unusual though some aspects have been, was therefore concerned, ultimately, only with the narrow fact-based question of whether the Crown has proved beyond reasonable doubt that your using a public communications network on one day to post the video onto your video channel, constituted an offence contrary to section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003. I found it proved on the evidence that it was. My finding establishes only your guilt of this offence. It establishes nothing else and sets no precedent.
> Hong Kong is literally protesting to have the right to a trail by jury! How anyone in The West could not take their side is baffling to me.
Because local prejudice can provide bias, jurors can be influenced by a lawyer's courtroom performance, most juries aren't actually a random sample of the population, long trials usually create hasty verdicts, most jurors don’t have a background in law, and jurors do not need to reason their decision.
Not to say that there aren't pro's to trial-by-jury, but not every Westerner is convinced that trial-by-jury is better than many of the alternatives, and that doesn't make a Westerner any less of a "Westerner."
Juries are not about accuracy. They are there as another line of defense against tyranny: it's harder to make up charges or convict people of ridiculous things when a jury can nullify it.
Nullification is rare and unfortunately that line of defense largely failed during the drug war. But I think that's largely because the government was able to successfully make it a racial issue. It's not always easy to take advantage of deep social divisions for all kinds of policies, and that's why dictators don't like juries.
Kind of like guns. How useful are they against tyranny really? Useful enough that tyrants try to take them away, and that's all I need to know.
Is that actually the case? A dictator should have little problem punishing jurors for bad judgments, incentivizing them to fall in line like judges. But in (western) democracies, dictators seem to arise from demagogues / populists winning elections. Such a zealous fan base will be reflected in the jury.
> It's troubling for China to have as much influence as it does when it's directly trying to undermine freedoms that we have fought tooth and nail and died a million lives to get in The West.
WE have thrown it away already, China is just trying to speed things up.
I've thought quite a bit about this, and my conclusion is that everything is cyclical and has a rise and fall because it only takes a few generations to unlearn hard-fought lessons. Only this time around technology is going to enable a level of control that has never been achieved before. I can only hope that technology will also allow the escape of that same level of control.
A perfect example is how larger and larger swathes of the populace is ok hampering free speech in the name of empathy. They don't fully understand the implications, and there will be generations that will be forced to relearn those lessons, and it won't be a cheap lesson.
“The Lessons of History” by Will Durant and Ariel Durant talks about the cyclical nature of history. They talk specifically about the cycles of control and chaos. How our liberties are only possible after a period of control.
> The fact that companies are willing to do it is pathetic.
I don't disagree with your post at all, but I wanted to note that it's important to remember that companies aren't people, they're machines generally designed to maximize profit. Morals don't apply to them - only the law, and money does.
Personally I've boycotted Blizzard in response, and I hope more people do.
This is false. Companies are made of people. They're not machines, they're organizations of people. There is no "business ethics" there's just ethics. People in leadership positions can take actions that aren't always in the interest of short term profit maximization, and will not get fired for it, so long as these actions are vaguely aligned to the long term health of the organization.
One might suggest that encouraging freedom / democracy is in the long run health of all for-profit companies. I haven't seen any boards or shareholder activists argue against this yet.
That is "technically correct" but meaningless in practice. It's like saying that people are just a collection of molecules. While technically not wrong, humans are of course more than the sum of its parts. The collection of molecules, arranged in a certain way, exhibits emergent behaviour; it will seek food or have intelligent thoughts, which molecules individually can't be said to do.
Likewise, companies as institutions are more than the sum of their people, and will display behaviour that cannot be fully explained by looking at their people individually, and this has very much real consequences. Like a nation is more than a collection of people, and this fact has consequences on the real world.
It is not meaningless in practice. I can agree it is insufficient and that groups lead to emergent behavior. But it is meaningful to note that the individual components of an organization have free will and potentially a sense of ethics/morality.
Each company has different behaviors, some broadly can be assumed, like, a company won’t usually want to deliberately destroy or bankrupt itself (there have been exceptions to this!). Others will contribute greatly to social or environmental programs that directly hurt short term profits. how they get to those decisions is complex and requires strategy, execution, leadership, etc. Not something so 19th century as “profit maximization”
My original post was to state that’s it is false to suggest that a company is always a profit-maximizing amoral machine. People aren’t machines and The emergent behavior of any given corporation rarely is “Profit maximization”. It is sort of like saying the emergent behavior of a sports team is “point maximization”. It is meaningless and not true.
I generally agree and think this is a very helpful perspective. It's too much to expect companies to choose ethics over profit, even if the companies are temporarily made up of ethical people -- these are mere components. (Hence the goal of governments/regulations should be to align profit-making with societal goals.)
Thanks for the post, I strongly agree with your points and may have stated mine badly. I am purely stating a descriptive view of how the world works. My conclusion is that we cannot just sit back and hope companies will act ethically. We have to actively shape the rules to incentivize or require them to do so.
It's interesting to see people give up Blizzard games, but still continue supporting companies like Apple that do far worse, like effectively giving the keys to iCloud to China. I think the conversation is great, and maybe now we'll actually reconsider what the TPP's goal was. But in the end, the people picked money first, so it shouldn't be a surprise when businesses do this as well.
The juicy parts from the Legal Agreement for folks in China using iCloud:
> E. Access to Your Account and Content
> We reserve the right to take steps we believe are reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement. You acknowledge and agree that we may, without liability to you, access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as we believe is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, disclosure, or preservation is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or request; (b) enforce this Agreement, including investigation of any potential violation thereof; (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address security, fraud or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property or safety of GCBD, its users, Apple, a third party, or the public as required or permitted by applicable law. You understand and agree that Apple and GCBD will have access to all data that you store on this service, including the right to share, exchange and disclose all user data, including Content, to and between each other under applicable law.
Can you explain why you think that complying with hard legal requirements that are a hard pre-requisite to doing business in an authoritarian country is worse than eroding freedom of speech in a non-authoritarian country?
Apple can chose to operate in China and backdoor iCloud there or they can chose not to operate in China at all. It's hard for me to see how either choice will substantially affect people's liberties in China, it's not like apple products are in any way vital to the surveillance state.
On the other hand more and more companies retaliating (out of a desire to curry economic favor with China) against people who exercise their freedom of speech in non-authoritarian countries would seem to affect people's liberties to me.
This way he gets to sell iPhones in China and the Chinese should obviously avoid using iCloud. If Apple was hiding this fact then I would have a problem with it. And if the device encryption isn’t compromised, then local data is probably safer on an iPhone than a lot of other devices.
It's not surprising. Blitzchung has a name and a face, and he earned a thing, and he had it taken away from him directly, deliberately, and unjustly. That makes him a strong symbol to rally around and more likely to incite a social movement than a faceless corporate policy. At the same time, the atmosphere of distrust fostered by those insidious but not-directly-motivating policies is something of a precondition for those movements to form. I don't think it's as simple as "people care about thing X but not thing Y".
Related: what's the name for this tactic in debate? Where a dissenter insistently demand citations so that the conversation has to pause and then the dissenter nitpicks the citation instead of the argument, effectively derailing the conversation.
It's hard to see this account (jbang5) as anything but an internet troll who, if not literally on the payroll from the Chinese government, is still a useful idiot for their cause.
Yeah, it is an interesting tactic, but I've actually developed an effective counter to it.
What I usually do, to counter this trolling tactic, is to provide them with the source that they were asking for, and then I call them an idiot for not being aware of such an obvious fact.
Because, by definition, they are uninformed about the matter, as they didn't know about the source and had to ask for it. So I just make fun of them for not knowing about it, and rub it in their face when I provide the information that they asked for and didn't know about.
If you have to ask for sources on the matter, you are by definition "ignorant" on the matter.
A link to a wikipedia article about the list of the worlds top supercomputers (the near majority of which are in China and presumably used by the CCP) doesn't mean that strong, well-applied crypto can be broken (I assume you're referring to brute force breaking). Mathematically, the computing power, energy and time necessary to break it are known in relation to all current computing power and, more importantly, methodology. Thus, taking just one of the Chinese supercomputers from the top500 list, the Tianhe-2, the calculation for that particular machine, working alone, to break just half the keyspace of AES 256 doesn't lend credibility to your claim:
=33 860 000 000 000 000 keys per second (33.86 quadrilion)
3.386e16 * 31556952 seconds in a year
2255 possible keys
2^255 / 1.0685184e24
=1.0685184e24 keys per year (~1 septillion, 1 yottaflop)
Needless to say, that's a long fucking time. Yes, cracking an access password would be much less time-consuming and so would finding and using non-brute force attack methods to guess or steal the key but for your basic claim that "Yes", China has cracked strong encryption, I just don't see where you get that idea from.
Google did not have as much skin in the game as Apple does. If Apple defied the CCP, they could lose their factories overnight. To say this would cause immense damage is an understatement. They would have no product to sell within weeks and they would have no means to produce anything. It would be catastrophic.
Google, on the other hand, walked away from China and it's business as usual for them.
At the time of walking away they had 33% of the Chinese search market - so it is hard to see how they did not have skin in the game - to lose all access to the largest market in the world forever. And not only for search, but also youtube, android and so many other things.
Google famously pulled out of China rather than censor, but that was just a PR move because they already were failing in China. I'd argue that censorship is an altogether different situation anyway.
Apple removing iCloud from China helps literally nobody. Chinese users don't have an alternative that isn't subject to the same Chinese laws. Any user that wishes to resort to less-than-legal alternatives can do so whether or not Apple provides iCloud services.
Ultimately this boils down to "should the Chinese court systems be able to decide when to hand data over to the Chinese government", because that's the effect of using a Chinese partner company to manage the iCloud data. For everyone else it's "should the US court systems be able to decide" instead, which honestly isn't all that much better.
I clicked on a tweet in the article and then the tweet contained within by Rob Breslau and the top reply is (with 4.2 likes currently) "American gamers are too busy being horny for Overwatch heroes to hold Blizzard accountable for this."
Doesn't seem that heartwarming at all, just gross.
What exactly is monetized in Overwatch? A bunch of silly skins you don't need? Everything is included, they are constantly updating, and releasing new characters, all for no additional cost. Best $20 I've ever spent for a multiplayer game.
And they give out Loot Boxes like candy in game. There's no need to purchase them. Play some games? Loot box. Be a positive player? Loot boxes. New event? Loot boxes. Play "Anything but DPS" right now? Loot Box.
I've bought game merch and London Spitfire (Overwatch League) merch, I've bought the OWL Pass thingy, I've cheered bits. And I bought the game at launch (no pre-order).
I've played a lot for a casual player, and I've watched even more. It's the only esport that I've enjoyed watching.
Only once did I ever buy Loot Boxes.
That purchase of Loot Boxes was because they brought out a new event that I loved, for free, and it seemed like a cheap but quantifiable way of showing support for what they were doing. I didn't need any of the skins.
I felt the way they've done Loot Boxes is "Loot Boxes Done Right".
So this feels like a real kick in the balls.
The home stand games for OWL will be brutal. Fan signs are already a bit rough on old Blizz on occasions. I'd give it three matches before a "FREE HONG KONG" sign makes it onto broadcast and there's a massive shitshow.
Yeh I've never purchased a single loot box, and I play roughly once or twice a week since it was launched. I'm currently sitting at about 75% coverage for skins and what not, with 22,000 credits. Just playing the game, gets you more than enough.
European in terms of nationality is irrelevant, but I'm not sure if that's what you mean.
Most articles I've read on it state the user must be in Europe and taking a product/service delivered to Europe. A US tourist buying something in a store when they arrive in Europe has GDPR protection, a French tourist visiting the US (or even at home in France but buying something online to be delivered to a friend in the US) is not.
GDPR compliance is obligatory as long as either data controller, processor, or subject operates, resides or is temporarily passing through Europe. The only way to avoid GDPR is if say you were a US company handling Chinese data, or vice versa.
As much as I want to think change will happen, it's much more likely this will be a few weeks of PR and ultimately nothing will change.
For something to change people have to vote with their wallets. In this context that means cancelling subscriptions or dropping games they are already playing in favor for ones by competitors with better integrity, and I don't see that happening.
Diablo players could go to Path of Exile, its closest competitor, but that game is massively invested into China as well and partially owned by Tencent.
Warcraft RTS players represent a small market right now with almost no microtransactions or ongoing revenue.
WoW players have alternatives, but not many I am aware of that aren't heavily Chinese based as the MMORPG category is dominated by Chinese companies like Perfect World.
Starcraft players don't have a lot of alternatives as SC has dominated the esports and highly polished RTS category for over 5 years with the same game. The closest competitor would be Age of Empires or Warhammer, I'm not sure how much influence China has over them, but they are different types of RTS games.
Heroes of the Storm players can go to Dota or LoL. LoL being owned by China and Dota being owned by Valve with strong Chinese market involvement.
I think the good will that Blizzard earned with their early games has been eroding for a long time. They did, legitimately, used to have enormous community good will. I can think of two ways that's eroded:
(1) Blizzard's early games earned huge amounts of goodwill by enabling players to mod them. The map editor of Warcraft and the UI mod-ability of WoW let people build entire communities around modded content (DotA, for example!). To my knowledge games after Starcraft II have largely lacked anything resembling this kind of functionality (please correct me if I'm wrong). Hearthstone, HotS, Diablo 3, and Overwatch all have 100% of their content locked down from the top down. I don't think the contribution of mods to the longevity of Blizzard's early titles can be overstated, and I'm confused why they haven't kept up that spirit.
(2) Blizzard has had a long string of eyebrow-raising failures to foster the competitive gaming scene, which they've been tone-deaf on since at least Starcraft II. They pulled the cord entirely on HotS after getting the game into great shape, the kept the Overwatch meta unbelievably stale for years, the Hearthstone Grandmaster League has been a joke on multiple fronts (in addition to an objectively stupid format decision for the first season, they insist on reserving seats in their flagship tournament for popular streamers rather than top players, resulting in some just... awful games). In general they try to retain far too much control and stifle anything they feel inconveniences them.
Add to that (3) a string of jaw-droppingly bad community management moves ("you think you want that"... Diablo for mobile...) and (4) Activision looming like an insect and (5) lots of Bizarre changes to games to appease Blizzard China
I don't know, I used to perceive Blizzard as a good steward for games. Now I don't think the game makers have that degree of control over the company's decisions, or their priorities have changed.
So it doesn't surprise me that people were as quick to kick them to the curb as they were. It would have 10 years ago, but not today.
You're right, the goodwill has been eroding for this lifelong fan. I adored Starcraft: Brood War, it was great to play online even over dial-up and relatively well balanced (though looking back I think that was mostly by accident) and as you say it had a great mod scene when you wanted to take a break from serious competition.
I didn't particularly like the shift to heroes, creeps, and semi-3D in Warcraft 3, but that's a personal opinion.
Then they hit me with Diablo 3 -> Starcraft 2 -> Hearthstone. Diablo 3's faults are well documented, it's apparently in a good place now but that ship has sailed for me. Starcraft 2 just didn't feel good to play for me. The snappy control and clean sprites of SC:BW was replaced with muddy 3D visuals and slow turning 3D models. And Hearthstone was fun, but they dialed up the RNG to entice casual players and make streams exciting. It got annoying to keep rolling the dice - both when opening packs and in the game (Dr Boom anyone?).
It took a while but eventually I realised their spark and magic was gone. They're just another AAA developer that I mostly ignore now.
I experienced the loss of that "spark and magic" in games twice in my lifetime.
The first time with Japanese console games, sometime during the PlayStation/2 era. There was something of a golden age on the way to mastery of 2D in the 1990's. I'm talking about the craftsmanship, the attention to minute details, the cognitive approach in designing difficulty and progression and outright "fun" games playing on our senses etc. The ingenuosity of some RPG systems, etc.
All that gradually took a back-seat as 3D was emphasizing visuals and "shiny" replaced "smart", "realistic" replaced "immersive".
The second time was with Blizzard, in very comparable ways — when you go back to the basics, how characters move and behave, how actually fun it is to press a button over and over, etc. Things that make some games absolutely stellar and others garbage and you just can't know until you try your hands on it for some time.
Needless to say I don't bother with most AAA today. (not that I game a lot if at all)
Yes the shift to 3D was absolutely a mixed bag. It is simply so much more work to make a 3D world, from level design to art. It enables some genres and games to exist (something like Monster Hunter: World just wouldn't be the same, and while Dark Souls is similar to Zelda and Metroid it also gains a lot from 3D) but it just diverts so many resources.
A common complaint about the open world trend is that environments feel bland, sparse, and copy-pasted. There is a lack of that hand-crafted attention to detail you mention when compared to something like Hollow Knight with beautiful backgrounds and precise control.
Oh totally agreed on the diversion of resources, and even before the machine (skills hired, teams divisions etc).
However open worlds, imho, pose challenges but not to the extent that it explains or excuses the lack of 'basic' low-level (physiological almost) engagement. It's a different problem I think, e.g. consider the 'blandness' of a typical NES or early PC world, and yet how engaging some titles managed to be. That's what I'm talking about. Sure, visuals help immersion (so a great open world may help, a bland one may deter), but this is at another, higher level than controls.
For instance, even in 3D, I remember having more fun "farming" in old-school ugly MMOs — up to and including WoW 1.x — than in later very "rich" worlds. The problem is so basic: for instance, visual feedback not perfectly timed to provoke "satisfaction" or a "reward" feeling, but rather feels frustrating and/or working against me (the worst feeling ever in a game, when the part that's yours — e.g. feedback, hitpoints — seems rigged or not fair or simply deceitful / obfuscated).
I remember reading Square Enix devs for FFXIV that "yes, boss X is essentially 'cheating' but that's because hollywood experience! better this way!"... — err, no, sorry, not ever was a game better because your opponent is visibly unfair — hasn't anyone learned from Metal Gear. This was the day I knew I just couldn't keep playing the game, it would never be satisfying to me because of its design philosophy.
As a friend in game dev at Capcom explained to me once, player controls is a very tedious work of finding the "ideal" timing windows and key combinations / orders that just make it "fun", subjectively. It's a lot of back-and-forth between code and testing some alpha — hundreds of times over a typical day. It's almost biological in nature, like good music. And stupid loads of time + great tooling are paramount to do this job well — one reason PlayStation SDKs are so appreciated in the industry ever since day 1, 1994; a polar opposite to Nintendo's for instance (I hear they got better, but look no further to explain 'lack of third-party support' on many of their platforms).
Controls may be "precise" but above all need to be predictable, learnable — like Sonic has always been 'sloppy', unlike Mario, but this ties in well with his speed (hence inertia) and persona (go-getter), and it's a small learning curve for players, but one that sets 'experienced' players appart. A great "sloppy" implementation, nonetheless precise mathematically.
I definitely have to check out Hollow Knight, though!
Sorry for a long piece, it's one of my 'truths' in game 'quality'. Note that this is all good advice to design UI in general for any kind of software — especially the timing of action, feedback, effect on events. There's a way — through testing — to make it all just 'flow' 'naturally' and with a weirdly 'satisfying' feeling.
Yes game feel is hard to quantify sometimes. There have been games that on paper I should adore, but in practice I struggled to enjoy. Bastion and Hyper Light Drifter are two - beautiful presentation, but the controls and gameplay feel just didn't click for me personally.
I play FFXIV and I'm not sure what the quote is referring to but in general I think it has a very good feel. They made a conscious choice to decouple animations from hits, meaning they can go nuts with extensive and flashy animations but your job is to just not be in the ground AOE marker when it vanishes - if you didn't get out in time you are hit, regardless of how long the following animation takes or whether you've walked a few steps since. This has a learning curve and confuses new players so should be explained better, but it makes for snappier gameplay and tighter movement patterns at the higher skill levels once you get it. Top raids are very much a dance of positioning, movement, and maximising uptime, which I enjoy a lot.
To the contrary (referring to ugly old MMOs) I also enjoyed FFXI and that was anything but quick and precise, the battle log itself was delayed and sluggish and abilities only came out every few minutes if you weren't a caster. I'm not sure what it was, but I think it was that feeling of overcoming a challenge in a group (or the challenge of just finding a group!) and the ability to break the rules by beating enemies with 2 skilled people instead of a full group. I revisited it recently and still mostly enjoyed it, so it's not just a case of it being the best we could do back then.
I'll add that personally I've lost a lot of respect for them over the bnetd fiasco/lawsuit, Starcraft II shipping with no local multiplayer, and their long-running legal crusade against private World of Warcraft servers.
I forgot about the absence of LAN in Starcraft II, which was utterly mind-blowing (good luck hosting a serious tournament). It's almost as if they built a business department to kill the company from the inside.
And there have been many issues with this over the lifespan of SC2. In the early days it was insanely common to see semi finals or grand finals with dropped games to the point the screen that appears when a connection issue would occur became a meme.
After around 2014 all the major tournaments had "partnered" with Blizzard in one way or another and an on-premise server is now used with a whole cloak-and-dagger system of ensuring the software on it never makes it out to the public. You have to pay Blizzard to operate the server on premise by their staff, essentially the same people who already have access to the Battle.net servers themselves.
And then in the end the game became free to play in 2017 anyhow.
Grinding Gear Games (GGG), the makers of Path of Exile have recently been purchased by Tencent, with an 80% stake. This ownership will increase to 100% in the next couple of years. If you want to boycott pro-China companies, PoE and GGG aren't a good choice!
Tencent also owns Riot Games and a portion of Reddit. Tik Tok, etc... We are talking one massive boycot, here. Besides Reddit (of which a boycott doesn't make much sense without an alternative), I don't use any service which I know Tencent has stake in.
Keep in mind its Activision-Blizzard, not just Blizzard.
Even if you boycotted all Blizzard products, the call of duty series and candy crush would take the hit. Also, I don't think it would work period; if Blizzard made this a hill to die on, it's because the Chinese market must be growing and higher profit than the west.
The lack of will towards cancellation doesn't seem to be an issue given that Activision Blizzard has an "overloaded" account deletion feature which shows they have had enough deletions to make them afraid and decided to break the law over it.
Some additions though:
I know for RTSes AOE2 is still shockingly active and viable as it happens to have landed on "peak RTS complexity" from a combination of minimal auto along with some unique features like one of the fewer RTSes to have a remotely accurate tooth to tail ratio - it is extraordinarily rare for the military to outnumber the civilian sector and if you are in that position unless victory is assured defeat is inevitable.
AOE2 is conveniently open in its protocols and they demonstrate why independence from competitive tournaments is important to game making. From a business standpoint the best choice isn't to kowtow but to stay not responsible for it.
Which is an ironic but tangible advantage for open software and giving up control. Even the unreasonable can see that any controversial actions are not your fault just like Lego can't stop you from building dongs and swastikas with their bricks.
Personally I suspect MMOs would be harder to replace by "flavor" from how out of Zeitgeist they are after so many tried and failed to create WOW killers they stopped trying. Combined with Free To Play models sucking much of the staple player base away. Even longtime rivals or disliked MMO variants mourn the passing or decline of others. They have effectively become period pieces in many ways - not dead but in clear twilight.
> As much as I want to think change will happen, it's much more likely this will be a few weeks of PR and ultimately nothing will change.
I would agree with you if this wasn't all tied to ongoing protests in Hong Kong and a continued trade war with China that both don't appear like they're going to be resolved any time soon. Blizzard has inadvertently added an anchor to the situation without a clear way of removing it.
Yes, fully Japanese, and I can recommend it. I think it's the #2 subscription MMO at the moment, the recent expansion was very well received and there's been a big influx of 'WOW Refugees' but that's mostly because BFA didn't land well.
If anyone is prompted to try it then be aware that everything under ARR (up to level 50) is a real slog. The slower pace didn't bother me but makes some people quit before the good bits.
By far the most egregious example of western firms working with China are management consulting companies like McKinsey that work directly with governments on expensive contracts, including of course China.
I mean, in those cases they are often writing the playbook for the government when it comes to implementing certain policies. Crazy that is even legal for a western firm.
I work(ed) for McKinsey. Writing this in present tense for vague anonymity.
I don’t do anything public sector so I don’t know what policies we do. But in reading this it feels like you are implying that McKinsey would be behind various draconian policies or censorship. I would say that’s relatively unlikely given the nature of what the firm does and does not like to associate itself with. As the only anecdotal evidence I have There was that Saudi thing from a while ago where someone did a social network analysis on political ideas, and the internal discussion was adamantly that we don’t do projects like that (identifying dissidents) for governments.
Also while it is a company founded in the west, a team serving Chinese government interests is highly likely to be 100% Chinese people, living in China, landed by Chinese partners. Both because Chinese workers tend to serve Chinese clients and I would guess that the Chinese government requires this. If you were to make such a thing illegal, what would likely happen is the firm would just split into two firms, the Chinese part and the not Chinese part, and it wouldn’t make a ton of difference because most work is driven by individual contributors on an individual basis rather than a large group effort from an entity like Google.
That's a really good point and not one I had considered in the context of everything that's happened recently.
McKinsey has been involved with a lot of bad stuff internationally over the last decade or two. Monitor's work with Gaddafi was also really gross. There's an odd dichotomy though - the ex-McKinsey employees I know personally and work closely with are all very thoughtful, ethical people.
You can create an interesting modified trolley problem if you replace the trolley with a person. Assuming you don't have recourse to stop them in any way, but you can help them make a less destructive (but still awful/harmful choice), do you?
Much as the trolley is going to hit some group, and you have the option to reduce it from a larger group to a smaller group, except this time instead of a large metal contraption under the influence of gravity and/or steam, you have a bag of flesh and bone working using the power of glucose. Does this change the parameters of the trolley problem at all?
Honestly, until now I've never thought about it. Might be an interesting thought experiment.
A lot of good, decent human beings justify doing awful things in their day job. Wasn’t there just a post on here a few days ago about someone who worked at Capital One writing about how everyone working there justified getting poor people deeper in debt?
FWIW, most McKinsey employees won’t be doing anything immoral. In fact it’s perfectly cool to turn down assignments for personal ethics. E.g. not wanting to work for a gas company, even if the specific task doesn’t have any moral implications.
Immorality is subjective. McKinsey is hired to (maximize|minimize) some objective. The fact someone didn’t want to work on the Purdue Pharma opioid marketing project when McKinsey employs a fungible pool of thousands of consultants means nothing.
Just because you choose not to work on a project due to personal reasons doesn’t free you of the unethical or immoral things the company you chose to work for does. And if you actually believe it does then it only supports the argument that these firms have found a way to act immorally in the pursuit of fees while making sure their staff don’t become too demoralized. They know there will always be someone to take on the work because the workforce is highly fungible so they don’t care either way, and if anything makes them look compassionate to their employees which benefits them.
Conversely, just because a few people do a bad thing does not characterize the moral stature of a large decentralized organization. Sometimes, bad decisions are made. That doesn’t mean the day to day is one that makes the world worse, both in fact and in personal perspective.
The Purdue thing was really bad. That’s acknowledged. Nobody is happy about it. Plenty of work has been done pro bono to combat the opioid crisis even prior to the realization of what had happened. I have worked at other places and I legit feel comfortable saying that relative to most American businesses, the firm is not an evil purely profit maximizing machine. Most people’s day to day is benign and well intended and you can just straight up talk to people about it because people are interested in such things.
tldr: while I fully recognize bad things have happened I would say that on average McKinsey is more morally self conscious than your average us company. Take it as you will
If Hong Kong becomes a Palestine-style cause celebre it will be bad for China.
China is trapped. They are stuck with this democratic appendix attached to a communist body. China can't keep Hong Kong under a democratic system as they have zero understanding of democracy. But if they try to repress it they risk endangering China's relationships with the rest of the world. They made a
mistake thinking they could transform a democratic territory into a communist one without any consequences.
Hong Kong's entire value, as far as I can see [and I'm referring to the value of Hong Kong as a community including people and businesses, not just their geographic value], either as a place to live or to do business or to visit, comes from it being a SAR with its own government, culture, historical legacy, and lack of interference from its mother country. If it becomes a homogenized satellite of Shenzhen with sky high real estate, which seems to be what China wants, what's left of Hong Kong?
I thought China was smarter than this. I thought they would realize the value of Hong Kong. Apparently China doesn't want Hong Kong. They want to remove the perennial thorn in their side, that democratic city-state of Chinese heritage right on their border. They want to grind it into dust, slowly if possible, but immediately if Hong Kong makes too much fuss about the pestle. They want to remove the painful reminder of [their losses during] the Opium Wars and British influence in the Sinosphere. They want to do that at any cost, including destroying Hong Kong's culture and attractiveness as a business location.
This is the height of tragedy. There will never be another place like it, and China is destroying it out of spite and ideological inflexibility.
What proportion of China's economy is HK? I don't know a good source but I recall seeing it's a low single digit percentage of China as a whole. They definitely punch above their weight per capita but I feel like China is more than willing and able to take the loss.
After all, with Western governments changing every few years, who will even remember in a decade?
I think the usual argument is that Hong Kong is much more attractive as a meeting place for foreign and domestic businesses than other cities (in no small part due to the Great Firewall getting in the way of corporate communications). It might represent a small fraction of China's GDP (or whatever other measure we're using for economic significance, since IIRC attempting to calculate China's GDP is a pretty wonky affair), but if it stops being that place where domestic and foreign businesses meet (and other cities fail to take up the slack), it could make things a lot harder for operations in other cities to continue.
That is: HK's value is less about its own numbers and more about the numbers it enables other Chinese cities to achieve.
not very convincing. The lack of CCP-imposed restrictions is hardly an inimitable differentiator. The unfortunate truth is that HK's cultural and economic importance is so diminished that the government is not that afraid of the current situation.
Never said it was convincing. Just the usual argument here on HN.
It sounds reasonable to me, though. If I'm gonna go to China to meet up with some manufacturer, then I'd rather do it in a place where I can send/receive emails without having to figure out which VPN providers the Party hasn't blocked yet. If I'm gonna stick around there as a full-time job, I'd definitely rather do so in a place where I'm not restricted in what I do online.
>Lam noted, however, that she had few options once an issue had been elevated “to a national level,” a reference to the leadership in Beijing, “to a sort of sovereignty and security level, let alone in the midst of this sort of unprecedented tension between the two big economies in the world.”
This has now been elevated to an issue of national security for China. Do you know why?
Because the Hong Kong activists are now demanding independence.
Set aside the issue of self-determination for a minute. Suppose you are playing as China in this game of Civilization and a city that you've got back is doing this. How would you react?
Would you fold to the demands of Washington and Elizabeth?
Or would you look at South Korea? At Taiwan? At how Mongolia got away with the help of Catherine?
Notwithstanding the rhetoric around the Opium Wars, Hong Kong is strategically valuable -- and not simply economically valuable -- to China because it's located on the other side of the mouth of the Pearl River from Macau. It's literally a physical gatekeeper to Guangzhou. Have a look at the geographic reality:
>Independence is not one of the demands of the protestors. Please provide a source for that claim.
Point taken. But it was one of the demands of some protesters in the past, so I must have got that confused with the current demands of the 2019 protesters.
Be that as it may be, the comment I was replying to was echoing points made by the pro-independence movement in justifying their stance, in particular by highlighting Hong Kong's allegedly distinct cultural identity.
I'd think, for instance, that Macau has a more distinctive cultural identity than HK, and in any case, harshreality's argument sought to portray China as a cultural monolith.
The reality is that there are at least as many cultural identities as there are provinces, and in Guangdong province alone, there are three separate dialect groups -- Yue (Cantonese), Hakka, Southern Min (Teochew, Leizhou) -- each with their own distinct culture.
You may see why, from a certain perspective, the cultural identity argument of the pro-independence movement is rather specious. But harshreality isn't the only commentator I've seen who's brought up HK's cultural identity as an argument.
Finally, perhaps I should let a Hongkonger speak for himself. Lewis Lau Yiu-man is a commentator based in Hong Kong, who writes for Stand News, a pro-democracy online news website, and contributed this piece to the New York Times last month. After a historical preamble, he made this claim:
>That’s because — want it or not, know it or not — the Umbrella Movement planted the seed of separatism in the city. I don’t mean that the idea was entirely new: There had been some proponents of localism, at the margins. And I don’t mean that separatism is now the order of the day[...] I mean that the Umbrella Movement was, in fact, an independence movement — but an independence movement that didn’t know itself.
He even analyses Beijing's perspective:
>And so from Beijing’s perspective, when pro-democracy protesters and their supporters reject what it perceives as its right to intervene here, they are challenging its very sovereignty. In this, at least, Beijing is correct. It knows what many Hong Kongers don’t seem to have fully appreciated: Admit it or not, we are actually rejecting Chinese sovereignty — we are already an independence movement in disguise. And it all started with the Umbrella Movement.
Thanks for your comment. I don’t see why Macau would have a stronger cultural identity than Hong Kong, but I haven’t been there, only to Hong Kong a few times.
It seems to me that there certainly is a distinct cultural identity in Hong Kong. Children are raised with less indoctrination in school, they have more access to Western media, and they have different values and manners. It’s obvious the minute you get to Hong Kong. Ask the mainlanders who complain about pretentious, condescending Hong Kongers whether there’s a distinct culture there.
I do think I see your point - there are many distinct cultures all over China and it’s certainly not a monolith. But I still have the impression that in certain ways the values of Hong Kong people are, on average, different. They certainly don’t seem to want to give ground on some of their individual freedoms.
Anyways, it seems hypocritical for Beijing to characterize this as a sovereignty issue, if your analyst is correct about their view. They agreed to one country two systems (for now), and the whole sovereignty argument seems more like a distraction to me.
It seems like they just don’t want to admit mistakes - easier to blame Western influence than admit that they’ve pushed too hard and made the people too angry.
Anyways, I really appreciate the discussion. I’m kind of starved for people to talk to about it.
>I don’t see why Macau would have a stronger cultural identity than Hong Kong
They actually have their own language, Macanese Patois, which is a Portuguese-based creole, in addition to Cantonese, English and maybe Portuguese. Their cuisine is also a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines. They don't really have a film industry, but my impression is that neither does Hong Kong these days.
It's interesting to compare and contrast the two SARs. You hardly ever hear about Macau, and Beijing didn't seem to have been as compelled to spell out what it thinks "one country two systems" should mean for Macau, as it did for Hong Kong in 2014.
The discussions I've seen point more towards Legalism, a Chinese theory of governance that's similar to fascism. I guess "Fascism" is a decent analogy, but its probably more accurate to just call it Legalism. Especially because China has a long, cultural history with Legalism (while Fascism would be associated with WW2 Germany or Italy)
>Especially because China has a long, cultural history with Legalism
This is something that most people won't know without a detailed study of Chinese history. Legalism in China won the day against Confucianism a long time ago in 221 BC, when the First Emperor of China came to power, and has never quite lost its place in Chinese political thought since.
Hmm, perhaps the best approach is to use the official translated word from Chinese: Fajia, to represent the concept and minimize confusion.
Ex: We could translate "Samurai" into "Knight", except a Samurai code of feudalism was completely different than a Knight's code of feudalism (even if both were forms of feudalism). There are also major differences in how the aristocracy worked between Japan and Europe. At some point, its best to just stick with the native tongue.
How about we just use more specific terms? China remains very much Leninist, and to a lesser extent Maoist; it has however mostly ceased to be Marxist. They kept the basic political forms but moved to a relatively liberal economic model.
Perhaps Leninist in a historical sense of "thought violence to gain control in a type of region Marx himself thought wouldn't be viable".
Putting aside his philosophy's flaws he expected a feudalism to capitalism to communism progression more or less.
Lenin was not only part of ousting the czar but establishment of the party as a nominally proletariat peasant dictatorship. That attempted teological speedrunning to try to "skip to the end" is classic Lenin.
Even if the system later reforms there is still a legacy in the how. France and England are both parliamentary representative democracies who were once under monarchies but the UK has far more monarchist vestiges than France. While technically accurate to call France as monarchist legacied they would have far more grounds to object to the labeling given the purge of nobility and subsequent traditions - even when they fell into dictatorships again they certainly weren't kings.
To be pedantic we could describe these aspect vestiges as "x legacied". That the West uses latin as it does for mottos and species names is a Roman legacy for instance for it is a trace of their power as lasting influence even though it does not exist today. It does not imply current control any more than Byzantium had control over western Europe.
China may be better described amongst many other attributes as Leninist legacied, oligarchy legacied, Capitalist dictatorship until Xinjiang's inevitable demise.
The fact he consolidated control over Oligarchic and has no clear explicit succession line makes him dictatorial as opposed to mere Oligarchic "the remaining few interests will pick after him". If as the whispered snark of "Emperor Xi" holds and he successfully transmits power to offspring he will have founded an empire (if it dies quickly it wouldn't be the first Chinese dynasty to do so).
>I'm curious as to how China is "Leninist" at all.
China officially describe its ideology as Marxist-Leninism. I mean, depending on how strict your definition of "Leninist" is, even the USSR may not have been "'Leninist' at all".
>The fact of rule by one party that claims to represent the working class does not a Leninist state make.
The notion of the vanguard party is, in fact, a key concept in Leninism. The vanguard party was conceived in opposition to forming trade unions, and was supposed to recruit from the working class. AFAIK trade unions don't exist in China, and the CPC does recruit widely, so it does satisfy the criteria of a vanguard party.
Marxist-Leninism also advocates atheism, another key aspect of Chinese policy.
Also, I found this amusing: did you know Singapore is led by a party that was originally organised as a Leninist party? 
>In Singapore, the People's Action Party (PAP) was organised as a Leninist political party featuring internal democracy. The PAP initiated single-party dominance in the government and popular politics of Singapore.
Of course, the PAP later expunged its leftist faction and swung to the right, but it still retains a lot of the Leninist structure. Imagine, a billionaire's playground run by a centre-right party organised like a Leninist vanguard party.
Fascist is maybe not a good term, because fascism is actually quite specific and to some extent euro-centric (plus, nowadays it just means "bad people" without people necessarily understanding what fascism actually is).
But China seems to be a country run on a totalitarian and ethnic nationalist ideology.
Only if words don't mean things, though you can see how the least charitable (which is not to say least accurate; who knows) reading of Chinese policy would lead you there. In particular, I think there's a trap where if you cherry pick from Maoist China and modern China, you can assembly a Frankenchina that meets some of the definitions.
There are some pretty obvious elements of most common academic definitions of fascism that China flunks, no matter how you read them; for instance, Chinese society has not been mass-mobilized and militarized by any reasonable definition of those terms. Modern China not only doesn't reject modernism, it wholeheartedly embraces it. If there's a secular civic religion, with ceremony and liturgy, it isn't powerful enough to crowd out other faiths; there is a national patriotic spirit, but it isn't articulated through quasi-mystical symbols and rituals. Violence isn't employed for its own cathartic sake, and is largely "professionalized".
People want to use fascism as a shorthand for "authoritarian nationalism", but it isn't; there are plenty of examples of authoritarian nationalist states that are demonstrably not fascist --- in fact, there are plenty of right-wing authoritarian nationalist states that aren't.
Maybe a good acid test for this: if you were living in a fascist state, you'd know it, in much the same you'd know if you were living in an actual according-to-Hoyle theocracy. China is a huge country and millions of people there live with a relationship between themselves and the state that we would recognize in the west.
I want also to acknowledge that it is kind of squicky to debate whether China is "fascist", in that it's an extremely loaded term that carries implications for ordinary Chinese people living their lives (that's part of the point of fascism). But a discussion about what fascism is or isn't is at least more in the spirit of HN than a lot of the other comments on these threads.
If you want to get technical it's a very advanced fascist dictatorship - the way it leverages elements of capitalism, for example. An innovative fascist dictatorship, even. But ideologically speaking, it's very simple.
Like most communist places there is either an infinite black market or eventually they give up on that whole "no private property" thing, at which point you're effectively just left with a shitty excuse for a corrupt government.
Historically communist countries have been pretty fascist, but communism itself (in theory) is about workers' rights and the elevation of the little people. I don't know how genuine Mao was about those ideals, but Xi is dropping all pretense by intentionally targeting labor movements. So he shouldn't even get to hide behind a flawed idealism. He has no idealism except power.
You're just ascribing the negative aspects of communism-as-realized to fascism but this seems trivially ahistorical. The internecine conflicts in communist states were much more pronounced than in the fascist ones, perhaps in part because communism was always a more complex and developed movement ideologically.
Communism as a political theory is anti-nationalist, and fascism as a political phenomenon arose in part as a reaction to Marxism. One of Payne's Fascist Negations is "anti-Communism".
There are multiple species of authoritarian tyrannies; fascism is just one of them. I think people get in trouble trying to generalize and apply fascism to places it doesn't fit. "Communist are fascists" might be one of the text book instances of that problem.
"Communist are fascists" might be one of the text book instances of that problem.
Mildly amusing thingie - a Bulgarian dissident's dissidenting involved writing a book about fascism (titled, for clarity, Fascism) which was really an oblique critique of the communist regime. It got past the censors and was published and then fairly quickly recalled. He later became Bulgaria's first post-communist president.
US foreign policy is a big reason why only authoritarian communist governments have been able to survive.
Nicaragua is a great example of this. The Sadinistas lost power through free elections in which the US interferred. Now that the Sadinistas are back in power, the freedom of their elections has been rapidly decreasing.
"Communist" as a lable has been so misused and unclearly defined for so long that it is mostly useless as a descriptive term.
People do give a shit about Palestine in Muslim countries, to the extent that Israel is not recognised in those countries and/or Israelis are banned from entry. China risks making Hong Kong into what Palestine is to the Muslim world.
China, as the largest exporter of consumer goods, is much more exposed than Israel. If China wants to become an advanced economy such as Japan and South Korea (and this is what China wants most of all) they need to keep consumers in democratic countries on their side.
> If nobody gave a fuck about Palestine, people wouldn't be so bent out of shape over Representative Omar's comments on the topic.
Nearly nobody (outside of Palestine, and weighted by political power) has a positive concern for the Palestinians, but lots of people (particularly in the US and Israel) have an interest in assuring that anyone who shows any sign of such a positive concern be punished to pressure them to recant and, even if that fails, to discourage others.
I cancelled my blizzard account as soon as I heard this news.
I doubt I'll renew - since the root cause is unlikely to be fixed with any PR expedient move at this point. They have shown the world where their true nature lies - and it ain't good. Cancel yours if you have them...
This shouldn’t be hard though. Execs shouldn’t think “we should maximize shareholder value while following the law”. Execs should think “what will I wish I had done when I’m 90”. Does it really hurt that much to tell your shareholders “we think it’s the right thing to stand up for democracy and human rights even if it means we are bennes from China and our profits are halved”.
As much as I'd like execs to do that, I think it is actually hard. The board, made up of investors and other stakeholders, have a lot of power too. Execs can tell shareholders that they want to stand up for human rights, but shareholders can also tell execs to stand up for human rights somewhere else (ie. they get fired; execs can be fired too).
I should have been more clear: I expect execs to choose what’s right even if it means they do get fired at the first difficult choice. I mean “I need my job” or “what we are doing is legal” isn’t an excuse.
Expecting a corporation's officers to enforce moral corporate behavior will generally lead to disappointment. Only law or the market will impose morality and ethical behavior on a corporation. This is by design.
Yes. To be even more clear, when I say "I expect" I mean I'll not purchase products/services unless they do what I expect.
I firmly do believe that people should be held to high moral standards - it's not ONLY a question of laws+market though. There are other pressures available. For example, I think NBA execs should be publicly shamed in this case. Right now they are mostly faceless.
This is one segment of a market expecting a compoany to not insult their national pride, and another segment of the market expecting the same company to not infringe on freedoms.
When I say I "expect" NBA, Blizzard etc to leave money on the market it's because I hope that enough people will feel that way, so the market sorts it. I don't think you need to have a number boycotting NBA or Blizard to equal the size of the chinese market - I think moral and ethics actually plays a part once the backlash from the "good" part of the market is big enough, even if it isn't as large as the Chinese market.
Now, a protest by "a dozen to 30" employees is unlikely to change Blizzard policy, even with the public backlash. While employees staging walkouts could actually hamper Blizzard's ability to make money, when each employee is individually up to the whims of the larger company, they may face negative repercussions and many, out of fear of reprisals, don't protest in the first place.
That's why we need unions in the software industry. Via collectivized action, the power differential between employer and employees is leveled. This is not only about collective bargaining, being able to enforce adequate labor standards (e.g. no/less/compensated "crunch" time), but also about being able to force company policy. If the majority of employees would strike/walk out and any negative repercussions against individuals would be met with more strikes, Blizzard would very quickly change.
In the same vein, let's say there are only 400k people online showing outrage at this. That's less than 0.01% of the world's population. Now weigh this ratio against the violation of human rights, police violence, ethnic cleansing and organ harvesting, and ask your question again.
Thinking that numbers is all that matters is the same as valuing $$$ over morals, which is what this is all about.
I remember it being mentioned in the "Work rules" book by that Google guy. They had a desert in their canteen called "Free Tibet Goji-Chocolate Creme Pie..." in the canteen. They said "well, the food is free, and the berries come from Tibet, so ..." Trying to be cheeky. But several people threatened to quit over this, and they had a huge discussion on the internal mailing list with over 1300 replies. The chef who created it got suspended, and then people got worried because of the chilling effect that this would have on free speech. Eventually the suspension was reversed. Very dramatic.
The Chinese government thinks it could lose the power struggle over Hong Kong, while it was confident about the Chinese invasion and assimilation of Tibet. Hong Kong is a real threat to the Chinese regime.
I can't verify this but a video game YouTube channel I subscribe to has reported that the following statement was released on Chinese social media by Blizzard representatives:
"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. Effective immediately we've banned the contestant
from events and terminated work with the broadcasters. We
will always respect and defend the pride of our country."
If true, the Chinese side of Blizzard is anti-Western values and the US corporate side is ultimately responsible for allowing the situation to happen.
As the US/China trade war drags on, as the HK protests continue, I think US corporations will have to choose between profits or values. Some brands and reputations will be reinforced, others--like Blizzard--will take a massive hit.
Blizzard survives on monthly recurring revenue streams. Boycotting disrupts this stream in a very consistent manner. 1M boycotters mean $10M lost per month plus all the addition revenue from lost streamers and watchers. Blizzard made $1.4B last quarter . It doesn’t bankrupt them but losing 2.5% of earnings sucks.
Not that I know of. Doing this at the consumer level requires a lot of convincing, grassroots movements, etc. It's messy and ends up creating xenophobic groups.
IMHO, it's more efficient done at the government level where it can impact big state-owned companies.
Reading what I just wrote, it may sound like I support Trump's tax war, which is not true at all. He's not doing that to forward an agenda of human rights, which I think it's the point of this whole discussion.
> “Doing business in China, it’s been easier to ignore the authoritarianism of the government because they were asking us to do things like remove a skeleton [from a game],” he said.
It looks like China learned nothing from the USSR (or from their own Great Leap Forward, for that matter). Escalation is not going to go their way. Hawkish members of the CCP are going to blow the whole thing up.
This is much bigger than Activision-Blizzard and it's clear that Western companies are going to have to pick a side soon. There's a very salient conflict between Wall Street and the Classical Liberal underpinnings of our modern democracies. As it stands right now, this is going to get worse before it gets better. Is anyone worried about the HKD/USD peg falling?
> This is much bigger than Activision-Blizzard and it's clear that Western companies are going to have to pick a side soon.
I would imagine there are thousands of businesses with varying degrees of exposure to the Chinese market whose executives are on pins and needles right now, desperately hoping no circumstance arises that will require them to publicly take a side on this issue.
Businesses with less exposure or fewer ambitions in China might have a lower barrier to standing firm if pushed, but those with the most to lose in the Chinese market are staring down a very real, very imminent choice between taking a major hit to either their revenues or their ethical credibility.
On the contrary, they learned that USSR's self imposed isolation was fundamentally flawed and largely stagnated the Soviet economy. It also put them behind the Western world in terms of R&D. China is attempting to put those lessons to use and attempting to have an "Western opened" totalitarian regime. So far, it seems to be working. Accepting Western capital and tech, stealing everything they can find, and suppressing anything that's a threat to their system while requesting their system become normalized. Whereas we used to shut out the Soviet Union, we welcome China.
+1 on taking the side, it's hard to see China as anything less than hostile to Western democracy.
I don't think it's Western companies as much as Western society putting pressure on all companies in general - and that'll bump up really hard against neo-liberalism and especially the libretarian segments of society.
Ideally we'll see political support shifting away from neo-liberalism and toward more pro-democracy ideologies.
Theoretically, at least, I think that the two are inextricably linked. I don't think you can have neo-liberalism (an actually free free market) unless your markets live in a democratic law-abiding state.
There's a strong correlation between economic and social liberty, as well as with the average wealth, quality of life, and happiness of the general population.
The fact Taiwan and HK are right next to China with ethnically and culturally similar people and were both way ahead of China economically and socially is no surprise. I often wonder how much more advanced the entire world would be if China didn't waste 50yrs trying their failed experiment and had skyrocketed to success like Japan, South Korea, HK, and Taiwan did long ago.
Now imagine if China opened up their market earlier and had fair independent courts and political systems where they could attract other country's companies, talent, and money 10x easier without fear of it being stolen or squeezed out. They'd all be doing even better.
The golden goose of neo-liberalism has always been local free-democracy and political protections while offshoring the uglier parts of the free-market economy to regions where the local political system can't resist the pressures being imposed by corporations. Within the west the idea is that corporations (mostly) play nice and respect democracy while exploiting that abroad - I think that may have lasted for a month or so and then folks realized they could double dip and have been eroding political institution for the benefit of corporations both locally and abroad.
I am not sure where I stand on this issue. I see two sides:
1) China has 1.4 billion potential gamers. That is a TON of money to be had. It's almost 5x the population of the US. If you can make money selling to 330 million, you can probably make more selling to 1.4 billion.
2) China might not want our games. A lot of game tropes that we love in the West are simply not allowed to be depicted in China. A group of renegades bands together to throw off the shackles of oppression? Not allowed. One of the characters is openly gay? Not allowed. The heroes don't wear enough clothing? Not allowed. Even "blood and gore" is apparently objectionable in first-person shooters. So it really calls into questions what story you can tell that is going to be well-received in both the US market and in China. Americans aren't going to buy a watered-down game teeming with Communist propaganda. So you are already developing two separate games.
I worry that we see $$$ in China, but it's not ever going to pan out. If we can all increase our wealth by 5x in a year by censoring a video game, maybe it's worth it. But if we do that and see nothing in return, then we just look like fools. My fear is that the second case is more likely than the first.
What is going to be more interesting to me is to see what Riot Games, who is wholly owned by Tencent, does when the inevitable Hong Kong protests come in during this years Worlds. There's even a Hong Kong team in the mix, and there's already reports surfacing that Tencent has directed casters not bring up Hong Kong.
There's money on the table to be sure, but multiple incentives are aligned to make getting games in front of China make sense. Even for developers who aren't profit-motivated primarily, being seen is its own motivation.
It's hard to ignore the country with over a billion people.
Why are we so up in arms about this? Why not before this?
Well, because we were insulated from China's behavior. Their heavy handed approach only affected their own citizens. They jailed their own citizens, but not Americans, not other people.
We got our supply chain from them and they gave us what we wanted, so we're good.
However! Now China's tyranny is leaking out of China. It's getting into arenas where we are. You could have been playing that game. You could have said something that offended China -- maybe without even knowing it.
Plus, they are in our IoT devices, our iphones, our cameras. China is watching and controlling us now. They are restricting our access to games -- not just their own people.
The culture and rules of countries don't exist solely within the borders of that country.
This is new for Americans. It's not new for the rest of the world. What USA wanted, USA got.
Now, what China wants, China gets -- even if it's not what we want.
>We are at a place in history where we can fight not with fists and bullets, but with entertainment.
Not sure if sarcastic or genuine, but er... you know that this used to be called "soft power"? As in America used to have all this soft power and made the whole world worship how awesome American life is? Like, even Rammstein sang about how "we all live in Amerika / Amerika ist wunderbar"?
Where are all the Hollywood stars, NBA players and silicon valley software engineers fighting for SJW causes, bravely protesting Trump, cheering for other people to loose jobs. Oh, right this is now about their money and their livelihood. I guess not so brave after all.
from the looks of it (they shut down their whole subreddit for a while) their pants are a shade of brown right now. they're in a damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don't situation and that's what the one of the comments here is alluding to by saying that they have to pick a side. there isn't going back to business as usual after this now, though they'll sure try before Chinese new years. we'll see how the bigger picture will look like in a couple of weeks.
google was there a few years ago, i can't imagine their COs aren't grateful for dodging the bullet right now.
It's a bit late for any faith there - the PR calculation has swung and the fiscally responsible thing is to back off this move - but as soon as the spotlight is gone all the math will go back in favor of appeasing China.
American labour organization pretty much no longer exists which is quite convenient for this sort of thing - it's quite likely this went across a few folks' desks who bowed their heads because they thought they'd be singled out for objecting.
I praise the employees that are walking out today - but a number of them were involved in this happening and didn't feel empowered to speak out and oppose this before the poo hit the windmill. That tends to be par for the course in modern america (keep your head down because anyone who objects is fired) and while it has some short term benefits for upper management they end up wholly owning their problems and nobody is going to call out a big mistake like this one before it goes public.
Lastly having worked in the gaming industry the turnover is quite high, I don't know if Blizzard is better about retaining senior folks, but it might be that everyone who would have the confidence to stop this before it exploded was long ago canned because their salary grew out of the range where Blizzard wanted to keep them on.
This is probably not going to be a popular opinion here, but I wonder if any folks have considered what it looks like on the China side? Specifically, you are in China, and the HK protestors want what to happen to China?
You have HK protesters waving American and British flags. These are the countries that have started wars all over, in the last 70 years since the end of WWII, ostensibly to promote democracy, and everywhere this happens there is chaos and destruction.
Add to that, China's cultural history of being invaded and exploited by various foreigners whenever it was weak or divided, and what happened to Russia in the 90s after democracy and neo-liberal capitalism were introduced, and you don't really have a good story here.
So, imagine then, you are in China, and the HK protestors sound like they want what for China?
The popular notion is that China would become a place friendly to Western ideals if it became successful. But even here, the West – and in particular, the US/UK – doesn't "get" China. Whatever is said here, China will bypass the US/UK, for practical purposes. But in any case, it is not as if they are representative of the West as a whole, nor can they claim to have a better human rights record – or equality record – or a fairer society.
I'm not sure I understand your opinion at all here. The protesters don't want to impact Mainland Chinese citizens lives whatsoever.
The demands are pretty clear and not at all an attempt to become the US/UK or fundamentally change Chinese culture. HK already views itself as culturally, economically, and politically separate from China. There is an agreement between HK and Mainland China to allow them to function independently for 50 years and that is not being upheld, or at least that is what is perceived by people in HK.
The rest of the stuff you are saying is moot once you recognize those key factors. They don't want anything for China, they want HK to be allowed to do what it's supposed to be allowed to do; govern itself without interference, which was agreed to by both parties.
> There is an agreement between HK and Mainland China to allow them to function independently for 50 years and that is not being upheld, or at least that is what is perceived by people in HK.
Yeah because if you wait 50 years, HK isn't going to want to be a part of a dictatorship communist regime when they've been democratic for the past hundred years. China needs to ignore the agreement and ratchet down hard now if they hope to keep HK.
Sure, but that's not the agreement both parties entered into. You can't simply go back on an agreement because you decide halfway through you won't like the results at the end (obviously China is testing that theory, so maybe you can). It's simply not in good faith.
Obviously the move from China makes logical sense from their perspective, but that means that the protests are equally logical from the HK side.
I'm Chinese and can say some words explaining the perspective from where I sit. I don't think memory of historical wrongs lie at the root of Chinese reactions. They may be the reasons most commonly given, but I don't think it's psychologically operative for most Chinese people. (This as following partly from introspective observation as a Chinese, and partly from the general principle against giving much credence to reasons given in explaining one's own actions and attitudes.) I think what lies at the root of Chinese reactions is simply the perception that the all the noble moral condemnations from the West do not feel genuine at all, that they do not feel like they come from the noble place they purport to. There are so many alternative explanations of what really lies behind these moral condemnations (e.g. that they really come from a place of self-interest (the Plaza Accord theories are very popoular here), from bias and hostility, from a malevelant intention to do harm, or simply from the desire to find someone to blame) and --- I hope this is something even an American can agree with --- the West has done very very little, nothing even, by way of ruling out those explanations for China. It simply repeats the moral condemnations. It's hard not to see this as showing either gross arrogance (I don't need to prove anything to you) or that one of those explanations really is true.
We can all agree that if someone criticizes us morally we should examine our behavior, so we can do better. However, what if you have reasonable suspicion that ulterior motives lie behind the critic's "criticism", that the critic is doing this only because he stands to profit from it somehow at your expenses, and that the critic doesn't really believe in the noble ideals he purport to believe in? Are you to give in to such a person so that he can get what he wants?
I think this is very well said. Even as a Chinese-American born and raised in the US I feel unease with many aspects of the western narrative. It is very easy for me to see how things could be interpreted as xenophobia and/or arrogance, from the Chinese perspective.
I also want to add that 2019 is probably the worst possible time to extoll the virtues of free speech and democracy. The western world is facing difficult questions with the interplay between freedom of speech and internet technologies. Politically it's been an era of chaos and a resurgence in populism across the entire west. The Chinese aren't blind; they look at the aftermath of the Arab spring and see failure after failure. The US is hardly a persuasive role model right now.
I think there's information asymmetry here. Do you think that many Chinese people know that in nearly all developed countries there's a lot of dissatisfaction and (public) vocal opposition to their own government? It's reasonable to assume that's the fact that China wants to hide from its citizens, because they certainly don't want their citizens to think that they have an ability to do that. Assume all the governments are corrupt and shady and all that, but that's still a stark difference between China and other reasonably developed nations.
Freedom of speech is a core moral principle in the United States: it is literally the first right enshrined in our constitution and for good reason.
I believe much of the recent moral outrage stems from China (and Chinese companies on their behalf) using the financial threat of lost profits to force American businesses to self-censor in ways that do not uphold this value.
Allowing totalitarian censorship of unpleasant truths like Tiananmen Square and organ harvesting of political prisoners gives governments the ability to continue committing similar atrocities in the future. If you look at American political discourse that is critical of the government, a significant portion of it is related to similar government suppression of information that prevents the public holding government officials responsible for the atrocities they commit: see Abu Ghraib, Wikileaks Collateral Murder, Bay of Pigs, Snowden revelations, current Trump whistleblower crackdown, etc.
I would strongly encourage you to read Orwell's 1984 if you can access it: it is somewhat superlative and dated, but artfully illustrates the danger to personal freedoms that can result from totalitarian government control of discourse.
Of course I'm aware that freedom of speech is in the US constitution. It is in the Chinese Constitution as well. My point is that just as you hold genuine doubts about the level of sincerity behind this second fact I gave, most Chinese harbor just as genuine doubts about the level of sincerity behind the first fact you gave.
There are rarely any self-consciously unjust wars. Throughout history, all wars have been justified on moral grounds (including the Nazi invasion of Poland). Doing bad things in the name of morality is extremely common. Why is the Chinese not allowed to wonder whether this description fits current US behavior? (By many American's own admission, it fits American behavior towards the Japanese during the 70s and 80s)
You have every right to your opinions, and I vouched this (then [dead]) reply because I do not think you should be censored, despite being skeptical of your argument.
I'm glad you are suspicious of the US, that is a healthy emotion to feel when you are on the weaker side of a power imbalance. I am also suspicious that the US intelligence apparatus may play a role in the Hong Kong protests - though I sincerely hope they are not.
I believe the 5 demands being made by the Hong Kong protests are rooted in noble moral principles, so I am comfortable supporting them regardless of their origin. Powerful secretive organizations manipulating discourse always ends up hurting the common man, and the more we as humans stand together, the more we make a just world for all people into the future. I believe individuals choosing their actions and words based on consistent moral principles is one of the best defenses we have remaining in a world of increasing ambiguity of truth. Allowing free and open discourse seems like another good defense.
There's a lot to unpack here, but the things that stand out are "Hong Kong = China", "protestors = US/UK", and "US/UK = bad". You've certainly succeeded in seeing things from the CCPC's perspective - or at any rate from the perspective encouraged by their propaganda. The trouble is these are all very "truthy":
- Hong Kong is meant to be an independent political system, under a treaty that PRC attempted to quietly subvert (and it blew up in their faces)
- The protestors are native Hong Kongers outraged by the above, not agent saboteurs of the West no matter what flags they fly
- the only "chaos and destruction" wrought by the UK's promotion of democracy in Hong Kong before the Handover has been the PRC's response to it
And I don't know how you can claim that China has a better human rights record than the US or the UK. There's ongoing genocide in China right now.
I don't think they want "something" happen to China, if you take a look at any of these protests and hear what they are saying - they just want basic freedom, democracy and not living in fear. Basically what everyone else wants and fights for.
(replying on behalf of gp)
Of course such clues exist; it's unlikely s/he was personally confused. Which has zero bearing on the quality of the title. The fact that it _requires_ parsing and reliance on clues indicates poor word choice. Synonyms abound, and better ones would have made for a much better title.
"Staging a walkout" seems like a phrase that, unless one is an ESL speaker or otherwise don’t speak the language you'd have to be actively and conscientiously misinterpreting when reading the title in whole.