Two weeks ago, shortly after Starfield launched, a YouTuber went viral for going on a performative rant about how the game was forcing “current day Californian shit” on him by allowing players to choose their pronouns when they create their character. (Starfield was developed by Bethesda, which is named after Bethesda, Maryland, where the company is headquartered, pretty much as far as you can get from California without leaving the contiguous United States).
After the rant went viral, the Starfield player community devolved into a culture war mess, with a very small minority of players claiming that the game was too woke. If you go to the Steam Discussion forums for Starfield today, you’d have to dig about 15 pages back to see this seething because the vast majority of players are just enjoying the game (and its bugs) and having less toxic conversations. The issue has largely blown over.
However, part of the fun with Bethesda’s sprawling RPGs is that people love modding them, creating additional content or tweaking existing content to make the game that came out of the box more like the game they want. Most players get their mods from the modding community site Nexus Mods, which had 700 Starfield mods hours after the game launched.
Predictibally, eventually someone made a mod that removes the pronoun option from Starfield’s character creation menu, and uploaded it to Nexus Mods, which the site swiftly removed.
Nexus Mods told me in an email that while it’s “not the police of what people can and cannot mod into (or out of) their games,” there are mods that contain content it doesn’t want to host.
“Hosting this mod was not for us and it is certainly within our rights not to host content on our platform,” Nexus Mods said in an email. “It's not a ‘political statement’ or an ‘alignment to one side or the other in the culture war.’ We stand for diversity and inclusion in our community and the removal of diversity, while appealing to many, does not promote a positive modding community.”
This is not the first time Nexus Mods has taken the position that it’s under no obligation to host a mod that contradicts its position on diversity and inclusion. Last year, the site removed a mod and the modder who removed the Pride flag from Spider-Man Remastered.
This choice has reignited the rage on Starfield’s Steam Discussion forums. “R.I.P Nexus,” one player wrote. “I want the option to remove a stupid idea, it shouldn't be a big deal to turn this off,” wrote a different user. “Nexus are censorship cowards,” wrote another.
Nexus mods told me that this reaction doesn’t bother the site.
“A reinforcement that this has been the best course of action has been some of the hatred, vitriol and threats of violence coming from a very, very small minority of the community,” Nexus Mods said. “Frankly, we are not sad to see them go.”