Bethesda, the software company behind the popular Fallout games, has banned a group of players for life following a shocking in-game homophobic attack.
This decision came after an incident in which a group of Fallout 76 players targeted and harassed other players. Over the proximity chat, they made disturbing statements like, ‘we have come to eliminate all gays.’
According to Wesley Yin-Poole of Eurogamer, ‘Fallout 76 employs a proximity-based chat system which means, by default, you can speak to and hear other players when you’re near them. This is by design – Fallout 76 is a multiplayer-only game that is meant to spark interesting player interaction.’
The group in question, all with high-level characters, then went on to follow and kill other groups of players over a period of about ten minutes. The ringleader of the group, with the username NathanTheHicc, was heard saying things like ‘queer down’ and ‘decontaminate the AIDS.’
AJ from Chicago
On of the victims was a person named AJ from Chicago. AJ took to Twitter to share the incident, even including video footage. The video has since been viewed over 43,000 times since it was posted on 15 November.
So @bethesda, how do we report people in @Fallout? @ChipWhitehouse @Handsandhead and I literally had our characters hunted down and killed by homophobic players. I’ll post more of the video in a thread. Strong language warning. pic.twitter.com/gN1rsRFz1h
— AJpls (@twitch_ajpls) November 16, 2018
AJ spoke to Eurogamer about the incident. According to AJ, the harassment first began when NathanTheHicc asked the group for a Disease Cure item.
‘The three of us were having a good time and talking to him and then one of us commented on his character or his characters outfit being cute,’ AJ recalls. ‘He replied, “I don’t fuck with that homo shit” and left.’
10 minutes later, NathanTheHicc returned with a group of friends and continued to harass AJ’s group.
‘The game notified me that if I didn’t fight back, they would do limited damage so I didn’t fight back and hoped they would just get bored and leave,’ AJ said. ‘They stuck with it and even joked about how “this is the strongest queer I’ve ever seen.”’
Eventually, NathanTheHicc killed AJ’s character. AJ and his friends then changed servers as to avoid NathanTheHicc and his group.
‘In the moment, I was just in shock,’ AJ says of the incident. ‘It was disgusting. The three of us stream and put ourselves out there on the internet and are not strangers to homophobic comments but this was so extreme. We talked about what happened, made sure we were all okay, and kept playing. The rest of the night I just felt drained. It was a weird feeling.’
‘I got really angry too. These guys were running around targeting people and what if they targeted a kid playing that was struggling with their identity? What if they said all those things to someone that was playing solo and didn’t have anyone to talk to? That can really mess someone up. Playing a game to escape reality and then that happens. That’s why we need to be able to report these people and why companies need to do something about reports.’
The reason AJ took to Twitter to highlight the abuse is because Fallout 76 offers no in-game reporting feature. When Bethesda responded to AJ’s tweet with their website-based reporting tool, AJ found it didn’t work properly.
‘The tweet was forwarded to some community managers for the game and they were very kind and helpful,’ AJ explains. ‘We were given a link to report the players but had issues with it. The site asked for a video file of the incident but the accepted file types weren’t video files. So we couldn’t send one. For me, the page would not even load. It seems very difficult to report players.’
Meanwhile, NathanTheHicc uploaded his own footage of the incident to his YouTube channel. The video’s title was ‘Cleansing of the queers.’
Eurogamer reached out to NathanTheHicc, who confirmed that Bethesda was in touch with him to say he was banned for three days. They informed him this would be his only warning.
NathanTheHicc is a high school senior from the United States.
‘My version of the incident is more or less the same as the public has taken it, the only differences being the fact that I don’t hate gay people,’ he told Eurogamer. ‘It was just a late night of having fun and after the first encounter (seen on my channel) we felt it would be fun to offend them somehow. You can call that evil but I think it’s just playful immaturity.’
‘I do not regret the incident,’ he continued. ‘I will not apologize given the opportunity. And I don’t plan on doing anything like this in the future, but to be fair, I didn’t plan the initial incident, I just found them and decided to go through with it.’
Luckily, he will never get a chance to repeat these instances, as Bethesda has since banned him from Fallout 76 permanently.
‘We gave an initial ban of three days while our [customer service] team looked into the matter further to verify the individuals involved and what took place,’ a Bethesda spokesperson told Eurogamer. ‘After additional review, we have now permanently banned the players we’ve identified.’
This is not the first time a video game company has banned players for homophobia. Back in January, Blizzard suspended an Overwatch League pro after he made homophobic comments directed at an opponent.