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World of Warcraft devs promise renewed focus on inclusivity

A surprise statement from the World of Warcraft team promises both to work for inclusivity in the workplace and promises changes inside the MMORPG starting today.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

July 27, 2021

2 Min Read

The World of Warcraft developers have released a surprise statement in the wake of the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard last week.

The lawsuit alleged that the company fostered a culture of discrimination and harassment, particularly towards women and employees of color.

Posted on Twitter, the statement doesn’t go so far as to make an apology to allegedly impacted employees, but does indicate the team is taking immediate action that will be visible to developers and players alike. Part of that action will involve removing some World of Warcraft content from both the current and Classic versions of the game that the team says “are not appropriate for our world.”

The Warcraft team states that it is “committed to taking the actions necessary to ensure we are providing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment both for our team and for our players in Azeroth.”

There's one particularly surprising part of this statement, and it’s that it includes the following note about leadership not deciding when it’s “done enough” to build that inclusivity.

“Those of us in leadership understand that it is not our place to judge when we have achieved our goals, but rather for our team and our community to let us know when we still have more to do,” the statement reads.

In a year of apologies from Ubisoft and Riot Games for similar incidents, language like that has not often been seen from any in a leadership position.

As for the “references” being removed from the game, the team does not specifically state what will be missing, but it’s quite likely that a non-playable character named Field Marshal Afrasiabi will see some changes.

Afrasiabi shares the surname of Alex Afrasiabi, World of Warcraft’s former lead designer named in the State of California’s lawsuit as allegedly sexually harassing employees at work events.

Between an open letter from employees, protests, and a team acknowledging that the content in its game does not live up to values of equality, it’s getting harder and harder to understand why Activision Blizzard is maintaining such an aggressive stance against the State of California’s suit.

Statements like the one from the Warcraft team may very well play a role in the court case to come, and in the meantime, World of Warcraft’s developers seem intent on improving the virtual world they have stewardship over as part of improving the real one.

You can see the full statement from the World of Warcraft team below.

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