Calls for a boycott of videogame Call of Duty are growing on social media after its owner Activision withdrew in-game items relating to a notable player after he made a tweet critical of LGBTQ+ policies in schools.
Nick Kolcheff, a Twitch and YouTube streamer with over 4 million subscribers on the latter platform, who goes by the moniker Nickmercs, had his “skin”—a particular appearance of a player’s avatar—removed from sale after commenting on Twitter about a mass brawl outside a school board meeting in Glendale, California.
Following the decision, another notable gamer asked for his skin to also be removed “in support” of Kolcheff. Other users have also posted videos of themselves uninstalling the game in solidarity.
Activision is just the latest brand to face calls for a boycott. Several others have been the subject of backlash in recent months over accusations of going “woke,” many of whom produced marketing campaigns supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
The controversies speak to a wider culture war about the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in public life. While experts have said such campaigns provide an opportunity for brands to appeal to consumers in new markets, critics have accused companies of alienating their traditional customer base.
On June 6, footage emerged of both pro- and anti-LGBTQ+ protesters fighting one another outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School District board, which unanimously backed a proposal to recognize June as Pride Month.
The incident crystalized the tensions over whether LGBTQ+ issues should be talked about and taught in classrooms.
Responding to a video of the fight on June 7, Kolcheff wrote in a tweet that has since been viewed 15 million times: “They should leave little children alone. That’s the real issue.”