Ignoring the specifics of this HK-China-Blizzard case, the core idea behind "no politics" rules does make sense. Even when it's seemingly or factually obvious whose side one should pick.
If it is faithfully and equally applied, of course it makes sense.
However, in this case, that's already been undermined because Blizzard admitted they had no reason under their rules to strip him of the prize money, and so they've reinstated it. They specifically said "our process wasn't adequate" i.e. capricious and arbitrary, and "we reacted too quickly" i.e. kneejerk in fear of China.
Hence, no, this rule was not fairly applied. This is not a matter of dispute: Blizzard already admitted it. It's right there, in plain language.
More to the point, if there was no backlash against it, would Blizzard have done anything? The answer, pretty clearly, is no: Blizzard specifically mentions fan outcry, specifically that people were questioning their core values
, as what prompted this.
Again. It's right there, in plain language.
Most people playing a computer game (or in a sports event) are there for the game. Not to join the fray on a potentially contentious political issue.
Let's say I agree with you entirely.
Given that Blizzard admits
that it went overboard, wouldn't that mean that Blizzard is the culpable party here?
That by not properly handling this, they made it into a larger "contentious political issue" instead of just apolitically and uniformly applying the general policy of "no politics, please?"
And, given the implications of what they are saying now, well, what would you say they are doing? For me, they've just made it even more political. SAFE + INCLUSIVE DOES NOT MEAN "DON'T CRITICIZE THE POWERFUL, FOR THEY HAVE MONEY".
NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.
Do your dirt in the dark, like everyone else. There are infinite compromises in life, but never will I ever eat dirt and say it's delicious.
I'd also note, despite what you and I might think about how "people aren't here for politics", that our attitude is simply not the prevailing one in American culture, especially recently: NFL, anthem, anyone?
You know, I grew up with the children of dissidents from a variety of countries, from a panoply of political specters: I had a friend whose family fled Afghanistan and the Soviets, I had another whose family fled Pinochet's Chile: Oppression is an equal opportunity employer.
So, on a more personal note, where do we draw the line? If a winner of a prominent event thanks "his father (or uncle etc...), who could not be here today" because he was murdered or currently detained by the country everyone knows the winner fled, such a thing is usually considered a criticism of the relevant regime even if it was never stated as such. It will definitely be considered as criticism by the regime itself, without question.
Is this subject easy? No, of course not. Which is why Blizzard rightfully gets backlash, regardless of how you fall on the "must be apolitical" spectrum, because what Blizzard did *was* political.