World Of Warcraft will now block messages containing "reserved words", arriving as part of a small moderation update discovered by Wowhead (opens in new tab).
For years, WoW has censored certain words by obfuscation as part of a mature language filter. But now, it appears the game will block messages from being sent entirely if they contain so-called "reserved words". For now, this covers one racial slur, though I expect to see that category expanded in future.
Wowhead notes that, for now, the filter only applies to messages sent within WoW. Battle.net currently lets you chat to people playing WoW from the third-party BNet messenger—and while these messages will show up in their WoW chat box, they aren't currently subject to the same filters.
Some Wowhead commenters suggest that this may be tied to text-to-speech support arriving in an accessibility update (opens in new tab) currently available on the 9.1 test realm. That feature would let players choose to have chat channels spoken out loud. It's easy to see why Blizzard might want to take a firmer stance on hate speech when in-game chat can be spoken out loud.
But as anyone who's dipped into WoW's public channels, the community can be rather 'creative' in coming up with hateful speech that dodges existing filters. Blizzard has yet to formally announce either the new accessibility tools or the chat filters, it'll pay to see if their arrival is joined by increased moderation efforts.