Tencent-owned Riot Games have been accused of censoring any mention by players of the Uyghur muslim Chinese re-education camps in League of Legends, along with several other terms and phrases.
Users on the League of Legends‘ subreddit noted the term “Uyghur” was banned from the League of Legend client.
“Try changing your status message to Uyghur. You can’t. It’s a legitimate name of a legitimate ethnic group, but Tencent-owned League is so sensitive about covering up the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people that they won’t even let you use the word. I’ve enjoyed this game for almost 10 years, but garbage like this makes me want to never play again.
Are there any good MOBAs that aren’t owned and operated by companies that bow down to genocidal regimes? Because I’m not sure if I can continue to support this company in good conscience.”
The KotakuInAction subreddit also claim other terms were censored (citing the comments in the original thread), including “Falun, Falungong, Ultrasurf, and several simplified Chinese words including Tiananmen.” However, due to the archived link of the thread not showing these comments, we cannot confirm this for ourselves.
There have been wide-spread allegations and international pressure for the Chinese government to close their re-education camps for Uyghur muslims; allegedly forcing them to renounce their faith, swear loyalty to the Communist Party, and endure torture. While the camps were officially closed in late July 2019, some suspect they are still operating, or operating in other areas.
The thread on the League of Legends subreddit was soon discovered by Ryan Rigney, Riot’s Communications Lead for the game. After discovering the thread himself (and posting in it) he shared similar comments to Twitter.
“Just saw a thread on Reddit about our text filtering system banning words it shouldn’t. Looking into it now—it’d be ridiculous and absurd to hide the name of any ethnic group. Here’s the response I just posted and I’ll follow up in this thread once we’ve learned more.”
In the subreddit thread Rigney also claims “Sometimes our system bans really weird words for no good reason.”
Rigney later posted “UPDATE: Effective immediately this is fixed on live in all Riot Regions. We’ll be spending the next few weeks triaging with our global teams to review our “disallowed words/phrases” lists and update accordingly.” The subreddit thread was later deleted.
How Chinese businesses are influencing the video game industry has been a hot-button issue for the last few weeks, ever since the Blitzchung incident. Following the pro-Hong Kong protest statements from professional Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai and Blizzard Entertainment’s suspension of the player, even other video game companies are releasing statements in regards to what they will and will not allow e-sports players to do. Riot Games was one of these companies.
While Global Head of League of Legends Esports John Needham released an official statement confirming casters and players were asked not to discuss “sensitive issues,” viewers of the League of Legends World Championship noticed the casters stopping themselves from referring to team Hong Kong Attitude by name, instead calling them HKA.