Tencent resumes NBA streaming as gaming companies censor their staff and players

Domestic News

Pictured: Mei, a character from the Blizzard game Overwatch, as depicted by the artist Yuumei, via Pro Guides.

Here is today’s global censorship and self-censorship related news:

“Tencent, the National Basketball Association’s primary media partner in China, resumed livestreaming preseason games on its sports website on Monday, ending a five-day-long suspension of all such games from the league,” according to TechNode, sourced from NetEase.

But Tencent has cancelled the streaming of Woj in the House, which calls itself “the most watched basketball show in the world,” because the host Adrian Wojnarowski “pissed off a lot of Chinese fans and at least one important business by ‘liking’ Daryl Morey’s now infamous pro-Hong Kong tweet before it was deleted,” reports Deadspin.

Blizzard, the game company that suspended a Hearthstone game player for a year and made him forfeit $10,000 in prize money after donning a gas mask and shouting “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” in a post-match interview, has since returned the prize money and reduced the player’s suspension to six months. But the company has doubled down on its policy to punish political speech from professional gamers.

There has been a fierce backlash: Two esports casters, Nathan Zamora and Brian Kilber, have announced they are stepping down from hosting Hearthstone competitions.

The Reddit forum for Blizzard — viewable here — is now a nonstop anti-Chinese-government meme-creating machine. Anyone familiar with this corner of internet culture will know that grudges are not short-lived in this space.


Meanwhile, U.S. game developer Riot Games and German-based esports company ESL “have warned employees and staff not to discuss political issues after the fallout from American game publisher Blizzard Entertainment’s decision to suspend an esports player for expressing support for anti-government protests in Hong Kong,” reports the South China Morning Post.

Last week we noted that the CEO of Epic Games, a rival games studio, announced that he “supports the rights of…players and creators to speak about politics and human rights,” and that he had a controlling stake in the company, so would not take orders from Tencent, which owns 40 percent of the shares.

Hollywood and the Nine Dash Line: In somewhat related news, “Vietnam has pulled the animated DreamWorks film Abominable from cinemas over a scene featuring a map which shows China’s unilaterally declared ‘nine-dash line’ in the South China Sea,” reports the South China Morning Post.

The film was a joint production Abominable, about a Chinese girl who discovers a yeti living on her roof, was jointly produced by Shanghai-based Pearl Studio and Comcast-owned DreamWorks Animation and was first shown in Vietnamese cinemas on October 4.

Click through to the SCMP for a screenshot of the Hollywood-produced, Beijing approved map of the South China Sea.