Bethesda’s Starfield has already established itself as a playground for modders, offering a canvas for creativity and innovation within its vast universe. From bug fixes to UI enhancements, the modding scene for Starfield is thriving, with countless possibilities on the horizon.
However, amidst the exciting world of Starfield mods, a recent controversy involving a particular mod brought a different dimension to the discussion. This mod aimed to remove the option to select character pronouns in the game’s character creator. While this feature may seem subtle to some, it sparked heated debates and drew attention from all corners of the gaming community.
For those unfamiliar with it, the ability to select character pronouns is a minor detail in Starfield, one that only emerges during the character creation process. Nevertheless, it became a focal point for discussions about inclusion and immersion in the game.
The controversy intensified when a popular mod-hosting platform, Nexus Mods, decided to delete the contentious mod. Their stance was clear: “Hosting this mod was not for us, and it is certainly within our rights not to host content on our platform.” In their statement to 404 Media, Nexus Mods emphasized that their decision was not a “political statement” but a reflection of their commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive modding community.
Although Nexus Mods did not officially announce their decision on their website or Twitter account, a Twitter user shared a message they received from Nexus Mods support. The message, reportedly from Mike at Nexus Mods Support, stated, “We reserve the right to host or not host whatever content we want on our platform. We do not want to host mods that remove diversity from a video game. If that upsets you enough that you no longer want to use our site, then, quite frankly, your presence here will not be missed. I invite you to use your account settings page’s Delete Account feature. Have a great day.”
The removal of the mod led to polarizing reactions. Some celebrated it as a positive step towards promoting inclusivity, while others voiced their discontent, seeing it as an infringement on creative freedom. This incident raises important questions about tolerance, diversity, and the role of the modding community in shaping the gaming landscape.
Nexus Mods has a history of taking a stand against similar mods, previously banning mods that replaced Pride flags in Spider-Man Remastered and temporarily suspending U.S. political mods during the 2020 election.
It is not an isolated incident within the modding scene. In fact, a similar situation unfolded just last year in 2022, involving the popular game Marvel’s Spider-Man when it made its way to PC.
Marvel’s Spider-Man, originally released on PlayStation 4 in 2018, generated significant excitement when it arrived on PC. The modding community, which often welcomes new releases with open arms, typically sees major game launches accompanied by a surge in user-created modifications. Spider-Man was no exception to this trend. Modders quickly set to work, creating an array of imaginative modifications, such as changing Spider-Man’s appearance to resemble iconic figures, including Stan Lee and even Uncle Ben’s tombstone. There were also more whimsical mods, like turning pigeons into pizza.
However, this surge of creativity was overshadowed by a contentious issue related to Pride flags within the game. In one district of the virtual Manhattan within Spider-Man, several pieces of Pride iconography, including flags and a mural, were included. These elements had been well-received by LGBTQ+ players when the game initially launched on the PlayStation 4, with many praising their inclusion as a positive step.
Shortly after the game’s PC release, a modder operating under the username “Mike Hawk” introduced a mod called Non-Newtownian New York. This mod, as described by its creator, replaced Newton’s Prism’s artifacts with the stars and stripes, essentially transforming Pride flags into United States flags. Notably, Spider-Man already featured a plethora of U.S. flags even without mods.
The original mod was available for only a day, but it received hundreds of downloads and numerous homophobic comments. In response, Nexus Mods, one of the largest mod repositories on the internet, banned both the mod and the user responsible for it. However, imitators and copies of the mod emerged on various platforms, including Nexus Mods, Mod DB, and even the Internet Archive.
To counteract these anti-Pride mods, other modders created retaliatory mods like The Amazingly Valid Spider-Man, which changed Spider-Man’s costume colors to match those of the transgender flag and included a link to support The Trevor Project, an organization aiding LGBTQ+ youths.
In light of these developments, Nexus Mods’ director, Robin “Dark0ne” Scott announced a policy that bans mods deemed to be “deliberately” against diversity and inclusivity in all games. The same policy applied to mods “attempting to troll other users with mods deliberately to cause a rise.” Mod DB also stated that it had removed anti-Pride mods and banned offending users but noted that its moderation process is largely automated, meaning user reports were essential for taking action. Nevertheless, anti-Pride flag mods remained accessible on the Internet Archive and other similar online repositories.
In the aftermath, users took to Nexus Mods to upload mods that include additional progressive flags, as well as ones that, bringing things full circle, swapped out the U.S. flag with a Pride flag. The discussion sections for these pages have played host to numerous comments suggesting that removing U.S. flags should now also be a bannable offense.
It’s likely that we’ll see the recently banned Starfield mod elsewhere on the internet, but Nexus Mods has made it clear you won’t find it on their site. Ever.