I'll get right to the point - I'm shutting down Twilight Strand. Existing links will still work for a bit to avoid totally screwing over current users, but main home page navigation has been disabled and I'll no longer be updating this site.
I'm sure most of you are aware of the recent backlash against Blizzard for their suspension of a professional Hearthstone player over their support of the Hong Kong protests. This backlash is a good thing, but the problem is by no means limited to Blizzard. It's a symptom of China's economic power being used to extend their totalitarian grip to the rest of the world. Blizzard only makes around an eighth of their income in China, and Tencent - a major Chinese gaming company - only owns a 5% stake in them.
I'm sure many of you will, rightly, point out that this isn't a new thing. Chinese markets have been warping media for a long time now, and I should have acted then. But it's better late than never, and this event - however small in the grand scheme of things - should be a wake up call to our community to think about what we're supporting with our free time.
Which brings us to Grinding Gear Games, makers of Path of Exile. Last year, Tencent - who up to that point had distributed PoE in China - acquired a majority stake. They now own 80% of GGG (and are acquiring the remaining 20% over time). In short, this means that Path of Exile's success is, indirectly, Tencent's.
It's true that Tencent hasn't, yet, directly interfered in PoE in a way visible to the public. They might never do so. But the ability of Tencent, other Chinese corporations, and the Chinese government as a whole (for they are one and the same) to extend their reach is simply a function of their economic success. Contributions to that success are contributions to the suppression of civil rights around the world, and I don't want to be a part of that. I don't know how many purchases I've contributed to in Wraeclast, but I know it isn't zero, and I don't want it to be any more. Yeah, it's just a game, but gaming money can fund corrupt interests as well as any other, and a strong enough backlash here may make other companies think twice about selling their souls.
If you don't feel like you can quit PoE, that's OK. Sometimes, you just have to get through the day. But you can contribute in other ways. Buy fewer microtransactions. Don't bring others into the game. Express your support for civil rights through donations or call your elected officials. Abandon other gaming companies, like Riot, that are owned by China or kowtow to Chinese censorship. You might not be able to avoid buying anything from China, and that's OK. Do your best. Every dollar you don't give them is a dollar they can't use as leverage against human rights, a dollar that they can't use to support their totalitarian, genocidal regime.
To Grinding Gear Games - I'm sorry I can no longer support your game. It is a good game, made by people who presumably have no investment in any of this. I'm sorry that it's you that will bear whatever cost this brings. I hope that it will encourage others not to make their pride and joy a tool of evil in the future.
To everyone else: I hope this post convinces you to leave PoE and other games, like Runescape or League of Legends, that are run by Chinese corporations. If you're looking for a new home with other exiles, I've created a discord server where you can hopefully find a new community.
Thank you to everyone who helped improve this guide, who linked your friends here, and who offered feedback and suggestions for improvement. And thanks to the 100,000 users who made me feel like I had something useful to contribute. I'm sorry that supporting a game I really like has become entangled with supporting one of the worst governments on Earth. I wish that weren't the case.
Don't let Dominus win. Vote with your wallet, and take your exile if you must, lest the Nightmare grow even greater than it already has.