Bethesda has banned a number of Fallout 76 players for life, following their involvement in an in-game homophobic attack. Be aware that this article will contain language some may find offensive.
There was recently an incident in Bethesda’s online Fallout game in which a group of players decided to target and harass another group, claiming over proximity chat that they had “come to eliminate all gays.”
In Fallout 76, the proximity chat means that you can only speak with and listen to other players when you’re close enough to them, so as to create more of an immersive interactive player experience.
The first group consisting of high level players and led by a player called NathanTheHicc soon attacked the other group.
In the video below, which was shared by AJ (one of the victims), the attackers can be heard saying things like “decontaminate the aids” as they call themselves “gay eliminators.” Obviously, it’s a fairly disturbing watch.
Called themselves the “gay eliminators” “cleansing the wasteland of the queers” “know what we did to your people back then, we killed them” THIS is the stuff said to us tonight when playing Fallout. @bethesda @BethesdaStudios @Fallout #Fallout #Fallout76 pic.twitter.com/zwPuz7AbsG
— AJpls (@twitch_ajpls) November 16, 2018
AJ later told Eurogamer:
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’.
After NathanTheHicc killed AJ, he decided to respawn in a new server to avoid being harassed any further. He then explained that he decided to take the matter to Twitter because it seemed to be the fastest way to get a solution.
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.
Not helping himself in any way, NathanTheHicc decided to upload his own footage of the meeting to his YouTube channel, calling the video “Cleansing of the queers”.
He told Eurogamer over email that he’s not sorry for what happened:
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.
Bethesda initially banned NathanTheHicc and his friends for three days while they looked into the matter. Everyone involved with the attack has now been banned from Fallout 76 for life, as Bethesda confirmed “we won’t tolerate this kind of behaviour by any of our players, nor towards any of our players.”
As AJ wisely pointed out to Eurogamer, the actions of NathanTheHicc could have seriously impacted younger players:
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.
Video games should always be a safe space for everyone, so it’s good to see Bethesda responding to issues like this as they arise. Fallout 76 probably does need some kind of in-game report function though.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.