World of Warcraft players call for removal of references to Blizzard ex-employee named in harassment lawsuit

A player uses the /spit emote on an NPC named after Alex Afrasiabi
(Image credit: Blizzard)

After a two-year investigation, the state of California has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging that discrimination, harassment, and 'frat boy' culture affected women who worked for the company (a spokesperson for Blizzard denied the allegations). The filing names former senior creative director of World of Warcraft Alex Afrasiabi, saying that, "Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the 'Crosby [sic] Suite' after alleged rapist Bill Crosby [sic]."

Afrasiabi quietly left Blizzard in mid-2020, but his work remains visible in World of Warcraft where multiple characters and items are named after him and characters he played in EverQuest. Most prominently, there's a questgiver in Stormwind City named Field Marshal Afrasiabi, and a quest called The Great Fras Siabi involving an NPC of the same name in Stratholme. There are also references to his characters Kariel and Foror spread over various items and lore entries.

"I feel sick that the game has numerous NPCs and stories with this guy's name", one player wrote on Blizzard's forum. "I love WoW but I just can’t stand this." On the WoW subreddit, there's a thread calling for Field Marshal Afrasiabi to be removed from Stormwind City, and another in which a player uses the /spit emote on him.

WoW has a tradition of naming NPCs after prominent members of its community, paying tribute to streamer Byron 'Reckful' Bernstein with a trainer named in his honor, for instance. It has also removed those characters when necessary, deleting references to a YouTuber called Swifty after he was accused of harassment and abuse.

Some players have responded to the allegations by canceling their WoW subscriptions, spending the rest of their game-time gathering to protest in the hundreds.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.