Overwatch League's Boston Uprising Doubled Down On Probably The Poorest Statement

If this Boston Uprising drama is making you wonder about speaking at all, then that's a good thing!

By Daavpuke, Posted 04 Jun 2020

Last week, I wrote about the importance of Overwatch League team, Los Angeles Valiant, speaking up about the murder of George Floyd. Yes, a week has passed and time has no meaning. The message from the team was direct and spontaneous, seeing a problem and addressing it head on. Given how this is an exception, it stuck out like a beacon within the gaming and esports community. I did, however, leave some ambiguity in my article that could imply just speaking would be sufficient and I must apologize, because it simply isn't.

Let me clarify: Valiant immediately addressing their audience is still a positive, because it did not wait for groundswell. Quite counterproductively, the team let their fans know where they stand, within a community that is rife with those issues. Speaking against your corporate interests is good. However, as time went on and companies sheepishly started crafting messages, it became apparent that most enterprises only acted on pressure from the eyes upon them. Moreover, the longer a company would take, the more those eyes demanded. Platitudes are no longer an acceptable path and not even just throwing a, likely calculated, number to a charity is equal to a commitment. To illustrate just how companies dragged their heels to issue a statement, gaming site Kotaku has put out an article highlighting the disturbing lack of follow-up most gaming companies had.

Brand, Statement, Twitter
Source: Chris Franklin

While I'm not vain enough to believe the previous article on our small site had any impact, I wanted to make sure my words do not allow for anyone to think that a company has carte blanche in putting out whatever message they create. There is a catalyst for this clarification. Yesterday, another Overwatch League team popped their head out of the sand to throw their text block on the pile. This team is the Boston Uprising, a team with several other controversies behind them. Despite the unlikeliness of the organization to be met with positive reception regardless, the Uprising still managed to craft one of the worst statements yet. Not only does the picture come later than most other companies, nor does it mention many specifics, but it also threw in an "All Lives Matter" and that part was not received well by fans and onlookers alike. Yes, all lives do matter. No, that is not why people are marching the streets for a week straight, across the globe. There is plenty reading and viewing material available that can tell you that. Twitter is currently a stream of consciousness on the matter that is worth putting time into.

While this above message is tone-deaf, it is not the sole reason for this article. The aforementioned Kotaku article has plenty of milquetoast responses. In the same time frame, the president of gaming for the Uprising, Chris "HuK" Loranger, responded to others calling out the organization on being less than vocal. To put it plainly, they tweeted poorly:

It is also ironic to me that in your own quote tweet you highlight black people as being under represented in esports, yet we as an org were the first org in OWL to pick up a black player (Snow), who was also a player that was under Toronto Esports (team I was managing prior).

— Chris ‘HuK’ Loranger (@LorangerChris) June 2, 2020

Loranger defended the accusations by pulling the "I have a black friend" card. Take a moment to sit on that one. That call in itself is already hard to justify, but as many fans would then stipulate, Snow barely played for the Boston Uprising at all, in a visible capacity. The majority of the time, the athlete rode the bench and only eventually played around the end of their season. Mikias Yohannes, as the support player is known, has since retired to become a nursing student. Loranger defended the lower play time as being the nature of sports. In the matter of fairness, an ex-employee of the Boston Uprising chimed in to highlight the diversity the company has represented in the past, with multiple signings. Two of those players have since left the organization under some serious circumstances.

I have been annoyingly preaching a lot this week. I'm keenly aware of that; like an ever-so-virtuous, scratchy record that keeps skipping, when all you want is to hear Minor Threat just rock out. Minor Threat is a straight edge band that was known to be "woke" in an era where that was still uncommon, but I really digress now. It's not like I'm trying to make this thumping a habit, but rather that it's critical to address these things, which are happening around the clock right now. In particular, I want to highlight that people are currently frequently falling on tokenism, the act of upholding a person simply for their identity. This isn't a problem that is limited to Overwatch. In every game and every community, people will point at someone black, queer or other singled out characteristic and use that trait to exemplify themselves. Oftentimes, well-intentioned people will ask that person time and again on how to act, what they can do to be better and so on. This caring act isn't so insensitive, as it is misplaced. What you don't see is the part where someone is getting thrown in that same conversation continuously. These never-ending questionnaires become a full-time activity and no one has the time for that right now. If you haven't had to repeat your life story so many times that you can't even put a number on it, let me tell you, that's really exhausting; to not even touch on the traumatic part.

If this Boston Uprising drama is making you wonder about speaking at all, then that's a good thing! Frankly, it's sort of incredible for one company to create a mess this often, in such a small period of time. That alone should tell you about the priorities of gaming companies and how they expect to skate by on the bare minimum time and again. Learn from their, weirdly consistent, failure. I'm doing that same assessment as well; now, but also all of the time, so this isn't a matter of pointing fingers. I have no intention in being that person, you know the one. There isn't any time for micromanaging people either. Simply, it's on you to not just listen to marginalized voices, but also seek out ways to improve, by yourself. That last part, the "by yourself" part, is the vital bit and a partial reason why this article doesn't have much concrete information for you. In a more direct approach, which unfortunately needs to be said: Treat people like people the next time you hop into the Discord. Remember that it's okay to not have an opinion, in fact, it's preferable. Yes, the irony of saying so in an opinion piece is not at all lost on me. It's been a time, y'all.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed

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Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Blizzard Entertainment
Developer(s): Blizzard Entertainment
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: MOBA, PvP, 6v6 Brawl
Release Date: 2016-05-24

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