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Riot says ban on the name of a Chinese ethnic minority in League of Legends was unintentional

(Image credit: Riot Games)
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League of Legends (opens in new tab) studio Riot Games said that a ban on the word "Uyghur" in the game was triggered by its automated chat systems, and that the glitch that caused it to happen has now been fixed. Riot communications lead Ryan Rigney also said that the company will spend the next few weeks going over the disallowed words and phrases in its automated system to help ensure that it doesn't happen again.

The Uyghurs are a Muslim ethnic minority in China, widely reported by US media to be suffering widespread abuses (opens in new tab) including arbitrary detention and torture. Given the fact that Riot is fully owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, and the furor over Blizzard's handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong (opens in new tab)—which spurred a warning from Riot that League players should avoid talking about "sensitive topics (opens in new tab)" while on their air—there was some suspicion that it was an intentional effort to shut down conversations on the topic. 

But Rigney was pretty emphatic in stating that he didn't believe that to be the case.

"Gonna go look into this right now. Sometimes our system bans really weird words for no good reason," he wrote (opens in new tab). "That said it would be compete bullshit to intentionally ban the name of any ethnic group."

Shortly after, he updated his reply to say that the ban on the word was the result of an automated trigger, which has now been fixed. "We'll be spending the next few weeks triaging with our global teams to review our 'disallowed words/phrases' lists and update accordingly," he wrote.

He was also refreshingly blunt about the League of Legends chat filter on Twitter.

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Ironically, as noted by GamesIndustry (opens in new tab), the first post in the Reddit thread titled "'Uyghur' is literally a banned word in the League client" has been removed for violating the subreddit rule that states "claims about or against distinct entities must have sources or proof supporting them and present them in an unbiased manner."

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.