Unjust WoW Classic ban highlights challenges faced by disabled players

WoW Classic player that suffers from muscular dystrophy, a disease that breaks down and weakens muscles over time, was recently banned by Activision Blizzard for using a couple of third-party voice programs which enabled them to play the game. The player acknowledges that they use “voice bot” and “voice attack” software, though they didn’t feel that their six-month ban citing “Use of Bots or Third-Party Automation Software” was fair due to the fact that they aren’t able to use their hands in order to play.

“I require the voice command software to play games… or to do anything on a PC,” said Reddit user u/Ffootballllll in their thread titled “I was wrongfully banned from World of Warcraft.” Pleas for help initially got the user nowhere with Blizzard Support, as they only “fell on deaf ears” and made them feel as though they were the victim of “discrimination.”

The WoW Classic community rallied around Ffootballllll and made enough noise surrounding the important accessibility issue that a Blizzard Customer Support worker going by the name Araxom was able to overturn the ban. They also added: “This was on us, and feedback has accordingly been provided to the right folks involved.”

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That’s a great sign for WoW Classic players that require third-party add-ons to play moving forward, but these sorts of problems are all too common elsewhere. When Overwatch called for a ban on alternate controller support in order to maintain balance, it perhaps wasn’t considered that the developers would be disallowing some disabled players to continue to enjoy the game at the same time, as pointed out by Mashable. There are countless more examples, many of which are highlighted by Erin Hawley on her blog “The Geeky Gimp.”

Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller has proven to be an excellent means of improving accessibility on that platform, though it’s clear that other developers and hardware manufacturers could do with being more mindful of the specific needs belonging to subsets of their userbases. Still, for now, it’s great to see that Ffootballllll’s WoW Classic ban was lifted and that Blizzard will be more mindful of these sorts of issues going ahead.