#33: After the storm

It’s quiet out there. I’m not sure whether nothing of note has happened, or if it’s just that none of the stuff that has happened feels remotely important in the light of the ongoing Activision Blizzard scandal. There are plenty of updates I won’t link to here for the sake of our collective sanity — more survivors speaking out, apologies from current and former senior staff, some outrageously worded denials from executives that ought to know better, and so on. The whole thing bums me out and I would rather not dwell on it — and have the privilege of not having to — so I won’t. I do, however, continue to be preoccupied by what might happen next.

In the short term, there is talk of boycotts. A handful of press outlets have stopped covering Activision Blizzard games; on forums and social media, I see players pledging to vote with their wallets, and not buy anything the publisher puts out. But just how much impact can this stuff really have? I feel like, given the way that online media is structured these days, a coverage blackout likely hurts the outlet more than the target. And it would take a consumer boycott on an enormous scale for Activision Blizzard to even notice.

It is incredibly difficult to force change upon a company of this size. You’re going to quit Warzone? You are but one in a hundred million players. You’re not going to buy the next WOW expansion? They won’t even notice. And any impact a boycott might have would likely have more implications for the job security of the people you’re trying to help than for those you’re trying to hurt. As Stephanie Krutsick, one of the women whose testimony features in the lawsuit, said on Twitter last week: “Pulling support from [Blizzard staff] isn’t the answer — demanding accountability from those who should be held accountable is.” It sucks seeing something so terrible and feeling so hopeless about it. Sure, these boycotts likely won’t move the dial much, but they at least enable us to feel we are doing something. On an individual level, there’s not much more a consumer can do.

Miserable stuff, all told, but I do see cause for some (very) cautious optimism. I’ve no doubt thought and said this before and been wrong, but it does feel like we’re on the cusp of something. This is too big, too wide-ranging, and too shocking to ignore. This time the truth has not come out through anonymous reports in the press — the sort of thing a company of this size employs its PR army specifically to either fight or brush under the carpet — but in a lawsuit brought by the state of California. Activision can’t just ride out the rough news cycle and wait for everyone to forget about it. This feels different, like maybe something might happen. I hope it does, anyway. If not then we might as well all pack up and go home, because I’m not sure I can stomach the idea of an industry that just keeps getting worse without anything ever being deemed bad enough to bring about the change it so clearly needs.


I wasn’t joking. Nothing’s happened. See you Wednesday.