A disturbing homophobic incident took place on November 16 in Fallout 76. A group of high level players used the chat to share homophobic messages and began by announcing that they “have come to eliminate all gays.” The players began harassing another group. The one who was leading them used the username NathanTheHicc.
The group of players that were targeted decided not to defend themselves against the in-game attacks. One of the users, AJ, explained how things continued next:
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.They stuck with it and even joked about how ‘this is the strongest queer I’ve ever seen.
Ultimately, they managed to kill AJ’s character and he and his friends had to change servers after respawning. Nonetheless, the disturbing incident remained on their mind. AJ took it to Twitter, where he exposed the homophobic players. The tweet gained attention and ultimately AJ was able to report the players. He did have some problems with the process though.
The tweet was forwarded to some community managers for the game and they were very kind and helpful. 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.
Sadly, it appears that NathanTheHicc, who is an American high school senior, has no regrets. He uploaded the video on his YouTube channel with the title “Cleansing of the queers.” He also explained that he was banned from the game for three days and Bethesda informed him that this would be his “only warning”.
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. 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. I will not apologise given the opportunity. 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, Bethesda takes these claims very seriously, and it appears that the initial three day ban was just the first step. The homophobic players are now permanently banend from Fallout 76.
We gave an initial ban of three days while our CS team looked into the matter further to verify the individuals involved and what took place. After additional review, we have now permanently banned the players we’ve identified.
Should there be a better report function?
The Bethesda spokesperson encouraged players to use the report tools on Bethesda.net and the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. He also added that Bethesda won’t tolerate this kind of behavior and they will continue to investigate similar claims.
AJ offered us his final thoughts on the subjects, as well as his opinion regarding a report function:
In the moment, I was just in shock. 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.
Reporting in-game is necessary. Simply blocking someone from a session is only temporarily protecting yourself, but not stopping anything from happening again or to other people. For 76 specifically, non-PvP servers would be great. Maybe things would have been different if they were not able to kill us. Despite all the bugs and glitches, the game is fun when you’re with friends and can casually explore and play.
Nora Reynolds is a major in biology and a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior, writing about science in general. She also likes to try new gadgets and sports about the AI new era.