Mark Kern, the creative director for the mech-themed MMO, Em8ER, announced that he supports the freedoms of Hong Kong. He also came out against Blizzard for their censorship and also stated that he won’t accept any Epic Games Store exclusivity deals.
On October 9th, 2019, Mark Kern made a lengthy thread talking about the current freedom-arcenic acceleration of China’s authoritarian rule taking place throughout our culture. His comments were spawned from the pent up swelling of emotion he felt after Blizzard fired two commentators and suspended a professional Hearthstone e-sports player for saying “Liberate Hong Kong!” during a post-game interview.
Kern wrote across multiple threads explaining his position, stating…
“Chinese game companies have grown huge not just because of market size, but because the government subsidizes them. They get free land, free offices, and huge infusions of cash. This cash was and is used to do expand and buy up stakes in US gaming companies.
“I’ve seen firsthand the corruption of Chinese gaming companies, and I was removed from a company I founded (after Blizzard) for refusing to take a 2 million dollar kickback bribe to take an investment from China. This is the first time I’ve ever spoken pubically about it.
“I’ve also seen how American company reps in China have been offered similar bribes to get licenses for large AAA titles. Not everyone refused like I did.
“Chinese companies tried to ruin my career with planted press stories. Money is often paid for favorable press in China and some of that money flows here to the US as well. Unfortunately, money talks. China has succeeded in infiltrating all levels of tech, gaming and more.
“Unfortunately, US and European companies are loath to take risks and invest in game companies legally as much as China was. China remained one of the few places mid tier studios could get funding. So again, China influence grew. I’m sure this is the same for movies as well.”
It actually is the same for movies.
There are countless films that are now produced in part by financing from Chinese firms, including Tencent, the same outfit that seems to have fingers in the pie of almost every major AAA Western publisher.
Sites like Screen Rant and National Interest criticized Skydance for changing Maverick’s iconic jacket in Top Gun 2 to accommodate their new overlords at Tencent. They did so by removing Taiwanese and Japanese iconography from the jacket. We also saw how the Transformers films, such as Age of Extinction, became the unholy prostitute of Chinese propaganda, as recounted by Time Magazine.
But I digress.
Kern continued on to say…
“But now we are in a situation where unlimited Communist money dictates our American values. We censor our games for China, we censor our movies for China. Now, game companies are silencing voices for freedom and democracy. China is dictating that the world be authoritarian.
“Of all the companies in the world, Blizzard is the LAST company I ever expected to give in to China’s demands. Blizzard was always about “gamer first” and “don’t be greedy.” At least, it was when I was there.
“It’s one thing to keep politics out of games, which I am still a proponent of doing. It’s another to unfairly and harshly punish voices that speak out against corruption, against abuses of human rights, and freedom.
“I take a huge risk by saying this. China monitors all social media and I know this means that we will probably never get an investment from China for my new MMO, and probably never get a license to operate there. But enough is enough. I stand with Hong Kong, and I oppose Blizzard’s obvious and laughably transparent fear of China. It’s time for Blizzard to grow the spine it used to have, and to do what’s right for gamers once again. Gamers, rise up.”
Kern rounded out the fulmination with a promise that Em8ER won’t be arriving on the Epic Games Store as an exclusive, and that he would refuse any exclusivity deals from Epic, and by proxy, Tencent.
And yes, this means I will be refusing any deal for Epic exclusivity. The money comes from Tencent. Em8ER will never be an Epic game store exclusive.
This might mean we never make a dime, but more is at stake now than just games. A line has to be drawn, and I’m drawing it now.
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) October 9, 2019
The tweet garnered more than 3.5 thousand likes as of the writing of this article.
It highlights how real gamers are behind real developers willing to take a stand against censorship, corporate bullying, and geopolitical despotism.
You can sign up for the mech versus kaiju MMO right now by visiting the official website.
(Thanks for the news tip Guardian EvaUnit02)