Blizzard censorship is just one in a series of events that have rocked the gaming world this year. It became a definite proof that if restrictions on content and free speech ever needed to cross into the real world, it will happen in the blink of an eye.
But, focusing on Activision Blizzard, or any other company specifically, is becoming a waste of time. Apparently, all of them will do whatever it takes to get as much money as possible from as many sources, rarely having any moral compass in the process.
What we do need to focus on are the ways how we can reach the games we want, consume media and communicate. Freedom to share our cultures and views is paramount, and gaming is the best example of people getting in touch without any biases. In-game, your gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, or class doesn’t count for anything. Just how well you play.
Ironically, the best way for your voice and your wallet to be heard is to become anonymous. Slide into the network under usernames, pseudonyms, and gamer tags. With premium VPN providers like Le VPN, you can have more than 120 countries with protected servers to choose from.
This will protect you inside your own country by masking your IP address. Also, it will allow you to access local markets in all of those countries and experience the content in the way the locals see them.
What does Blizzard Censorship Show?
Those of us living most of our lives on the Network usually forget how censorship works in the real world. Our problems usually consist of game content being cut, or some TV show being banned for some reason proclaimed by the nanny state.
In the real world, the impact is much more direct. Professional Hearthstone player with the game tag Blitzchung has lost his livelihood and his winnings for purely political reasons faster than you can say ready player one. The prize was later returned due to international pressure, but the six-month ban from playing still stays.
Activision Blizzard even canceled their Overwatch launch because they were afraid of trolls. People went to Social Media with ideas to dress as Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s fictional teddy bear, for the launch. All of this was due to a popular meme where the bear is shown to resemble the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
The action showed that censorship will follow into the real world as fast as it is spreading online. Those who are not protected by a VPN and have their identity hidden will quickly find themselves penalized, even in countries regarded as free and democratic.
Nobody is yet being dragged into FEMA camps on the orders of the New World Order, but you can lose your job and your flying privileges very easily.
Reasons for Censorship
Most people know about censorship in China or Russia and think that these are cultural issues. They are not. Censorship is happening all around the world for various reasons, all of which have to do with money and control. Blizzard censorship falls into both of these categories.
Companies want money and are usually willing to bend or bypass laws and good practice to get it. Serving the pocket of its shareholders is every company’s main goal. And, if providing the best service for your customers is not bringing in enough, most companies will bend their rules to serve their main goal.
Countries and governments have a different goal in mind. These entities already have all the money they need and all they think about is control. Even in free and democratic countries this will happen, only the people inside the apparatus will change.
Finally, there are five new global reasons for censorship. Some of these issues rose to prominence because, globally, companies and countries started mixing interests and goals with each other.
1.Global Community Standards
Only a decade ago this little set of words would make no sense for most people. Today, this is the main reason why developers, companies, news agencies, and even private individuals are cropping their expression and content.
The idea is that in some places there are people who will get offended because they have seen something inappropriate. Although they wouldn’t be customers regardless, they will shout and complain using Twitter and other social media how the game (or movie) should be banned. And they will get their wish more often than not.
Those using a VPN will notice that local markets have begun to differ quite a lot; from specific merchandise and content to different rules on community forums. Regretfully, those who complain online have also noticed this, and have now started to complain to companies even outside their country.
There are multiple accounts of American activists complaining to Japanese or European developers that something should be changed. For instance, how the critically acclaimed game Witcher 3: Wild Hunt didn’t include any non-European culture, even though the intellectual property is based on Polish and Slavic folklore.
Thankfully, most of these demands are brushed off when it comes to domestic markets.
2.Licensing and Intellectual Property Rights
Licensing doesn’t fall into the same category as censorship when it comes to its severity, but the result is still the same. Due to certain products awaiting a license, you may wait for some movie, show, or game for years. Sometimes, a piece of content wouldn’t even get a local distributor.
Those who like binge-watching TV shows and have a good VPN will notice that Netflix has a different catalog if you are connecting from the US and the UK. Certain BBC shows are unavailable in the States because no distributor licensed them yet.
3.Politics, Religion, and Culture
Unlike the global community standards that usually force producers and developers to auto-censor, there are also real reasons why some content can be banned in certain parts of the world. This type of internet censorship is prevalent in autocratic countries where some sort of government wields a lot of power.
Most counties in the Middle East have strict laws when it comes to religion and religious representation. Games that include magic, witchcraft, or even fantastical polytheism (ex. Thor, Odin, Zeus) can be banned by law.
Other regions, like South-East Asia, might have stricter rules when it comes to politics.
Finally, violence is not something specifically banned in certain regions but there are a lot of countries as well as distributors that will avoid or outright ban violent games. Users in Australia usually need a VPN to find unrestricted content when it comes to violence and gore.
Games like South Park even made fun of the Australian censors by putting a crying Koala where the censored content used to stand.
Corporations like for their content to be widespread, non-offensive, and tied to the company at all times. The new idea of games as a service is spreading, to the dismay of every gamer in the world.
Same as in the case of Blizzard censorship, companies will try to block any kind of discourse that could offend or hurt their brand or their stakeholders. In the case of Google censorship, this approach will extend to all sorts of discussions, from shadow-banning on YouTube to removing results from online searches.
5.Social & Political Control
Finally, the original reason for all censorship is social and political control. The same way Blizzard censorship was caused by the government in China not wanting anyone talking about the protests in Hong Kong, other governments try to block other forms of discussion.
In certain cases, we might find some justification for not allowing your citizens to see specific imagery. For instance, most games with themes that portray Nazism are banned or censored in Germany due to their past.
But, this argument is always flawed. Something being taboo only makes the people more willing to search for it. And, without proper context and open discussion, most ideas can be misconstrued. This is why it is important to unblock games, movies, and TV shows, as well as foreign forums and message boards. That is the only way to learn about the whole cultural picture of the Planet we are all living on.
How to Avoid Censorship?
Avoiding censorship is a two-part process.
Primarily, we should be able to access foreign markets and find what we are looking for. While some prior knowledge of the language and customs of the platform you are searching on would be good, online translation makes everything easier.
The second step is purchasing the product or contributing to the discussion. This step is harder and will take some time for you to find the best way to go about participating.
Thankfully, there are no downsides to exploring foreign markets. You will not only experience the full game or other media, but you will also become more protected and more knowledgeable about the world.
1.Using a VPN
A virtual private network, or a VPN, is primarily used to mask the IP address given to you by your internet service provider. This address is encrypted inside a VPN tunnel and passed through a protected server.
But, that is not the only purpose for what is a VPN used for, as ‘’virtual traveling’’ is becoming increasingly popular. Accessing geographically restricted content was quickly seen as the second major use for a VPN and something most users practice daily.
The only issue is not to use unreliable VPN connections and private proxy servers. Professional companies like Le VPN have a good track record, a good app, and hundreds of servers globally where you can connect in mere seconds.
2.Accessing Foreign Markets
If fighting censorship can be seen as a war, it will be a war of attrition. At first, global gaming studios and movie producers will neglect the drive towards foreign markets. Once enough people are buying from abroad, they will try to ban or prevent those sales institutionally.
If you are using a gaming VPN, you can even enjoy multiplayer servers in other counties, with unnoticeable lag or ping.
Finally, once they realize that your access is free and undisputed, they will notice what you are buying and try to recreate it at home.
The simple act of making an online purchase in France, the UK, or Japan will force all other producers to forgo their censorious ways and give their customers what they demand.
3.Voting with Your Wallet
As the Americans say: ‘’Money talks!’’
While all of us as individuals should strive to subdue our consumerism and rise above material possessions, that kind of nirvana will never happen for companies. Companies work for profit, and governments work by taxing that profit. Blizzard censorship wouldn’t happen if they knew how much the scandal would cost their brand and margins.
While you might think that your purchase of Japanese manga comics or a good French drama isn’t important, you will be a part of a growing trend. By moving your wallet to a country that will allow you to game freely and enjoy your media as you wish, you will push domestic companies and governments to follow your wishes.
There is an argument to be made that animated masterpieces like Avatar: The Last Airbender were made as a direct response to Japanese Anime shows. That is the sort of cultural exchange we are looking for in the future.
4.Speaking Your Mind
As if it was a muscle, not practicing your free speech and liberty will make it diminish.
But, different from before, when you needed to open yourself to attacks and pressure when speaking out, now you can do it anonymously. You don’t need to suffer like Blitzchung for what you said and did if you conceal your identity and your IP address.
You can still be cordial and polite even when behind an avatar, and that will make your opinion resonate even more. But, unlike IRL activism, you will not lose your job because you liked the Shield Hero anime.
Becoming anonymous online is easy. Simply turn on your VPN app and pick out your pseudonym.
Staying anonymous online is a whole different story. You will need to use both tech and cyber hygiene to keep any snoopers and intruders from finding out who you are.
This will include protecting all of your devices, especially your smartphone. Also, you will want to make a secondary main profile for your social media. You can still have a barren Facebook account where your grandma can easily find you to chat. But, the main account where you browse, chat, and comment on forums should be without your name, face, or any personal information.
For both accounts, especially when using Facebook, always make sure that you are connecting through a VPN.
The Bounty of Local Online Markets
Those who are not yet familiar with local online markets will be ecstatic to find out what kind of wonders can be found around the world.
Every region has something specific that is very hard to find elsewhere. This will range from games, TV shows, movies, and many other forms of media.
While in some cases you will need to have a working knowledge of the domestic language, most of the media produced nowadays have subtitles or dubs in English, French, Spanish, and German. It might take some time to find them, but it will be worth it.
North America & Australia
For solely local-patriotic reasons there are a lot of cooking shows and websites in Quebec that are only available in French. The websites are usually accessible even without a VPN, but the shows are not. If you have ever wondered how to make the perfect Poutine Quebecoise, this will be your choice.
Next, there is the US with its huge catalog of Netflix shows with all the newest additions.
Finally, Australian teen dramas on ABC are a global treasure and it is unknown why they are not broadcasted to every household in the Anglo-sphere.
Who is the mother? Who is the lover? Who is the murderer?
Some telenovelas can be seen around the world, but most are dedicated to Latin America. If you enjoy easy dramas with entertaining twists, watching Mexican, Argentinian, or Brazilian shows will put a smile on your face.
Every single country in Europe has their own cinematography and TV production, and each have something to offer.
From British Sci-Fi shows to French love dramas to Italian social commentary. A Russian drama, Krylya Imperii (Wings of the Empire), is something only available in Russia right now, and it is a show worth watching.
Apparently, everybody in Uganda knows Kung-foo. The internationally famous meme from the movie ‘’Who Killed Captain Alex” opened the doors to a variety of African movies that will never be available anywhere else.
Uganda, Nigeria, and Cameroon have thriving movie industries and it is a shame that more people can’t enjoy both the masterpieces and the funny flops this region creates.
From South-East Asian games to Japanese manga, to Korean dramas. Asia is a huge continent that more than half of the Planet call home. Additionally, most markets are focused inwards and don’t market abroad.
But, with a bit of effort, you will be able to find gems of Asian art, in all sorts of art forms.
Even the country that is the cause for the Blizzard censorship scandal, China, has some interesting shows and interesting Anime to offer. It would be a rare case of using a VPN to gain access to China, but it is easily possible from servers in Thailand and Kazakhstan.
Blizzard censorship and their banning of their player shouldn’t be a cause for abandoning games and gaming. It should reaffirm what we already knew; that you should stay anonymous and hidden if you want to enjoy your media.
By using a premium VPN provider such as Le VPN, you can easily travel the world from the comfort of your own home and consume all of the culture that could otherwise be blocked for you.
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