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Penny Arcade denied access to China’s League of Legends Tournament

Penny Arcade correspondent and video game journalist, Andrew Groen was going to travel to China to cover the League of Legends (LoL) All-Stars Game. His story ended and he stayed in the US, simply for saying the wrong thing when preparing for his international trip.

Groen recalls that he submitted his Visa application for verification, and he thought he would be on his way to cover the Riot Games event in Shanghai. He was informed by Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends and owners of the tournament, to be prepared for a short interview with a Chinese representative and to be on his “best behaviour.” Riot even sent him a letter to hand to the consulate from Riot’s parent company, Tencent, and was told to practice “strong morals.”

Shortly after filing the correct paperwork, Mr. Greon received a phone call asking what he would be doing in China and about the nature of his visit. Greon had checked the box labelled “temporary news coverage”, hoping to be truthful about his work in their country. Little did Mr. Greon know that this was a red flag to the Chinese consulate. Despite having a signed letterhead from a large Chinese company acknowledging his “strong morals,” he had a problem due to being considered a journalist.


Despite Greon explaining the situation, he was not allowed to enter the country. He got in touch with Riot to figure out the best course of action. The company discussed with him possible ways to rescinded his application and submit it again without mentioning his affiliation as a journalist. He was thinking about the possibility of labeling his next application as a business trip for a businessman, but when Greon told Riot of the phone call they were flabbergasted. “Wait, they called you? Wow…they never do that.”

The spokesman talking with Greon summed it up best when he said, “They don’t like journalists.” This was clearly  an issue, even regarding something like coverage of a video game tournament. Greon received a call from the spokesman the following day with a “cheerful and reassuring” tone hoping he would be in Shanghai in a matter of days. The spokesperson noted that Greon and his host company (Tencent) would “just have to sign and return this document that promises you’re not affiliated with any media organization and you wont be doing any journalism in the country.”

Greon missed covering the tournament for both “personal and professional reasons”, but, to be fair, he had a great story to tell and a warning for anyone hoping to cover video games in China. Remember, you are businessman on a “business trip.”


via The PA Report

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