Three days ago, a No Man's Sky community leader saw one of her bases erased by a notorious streamer who roleplays as a tyrannical overlord. In response, the community put their foot down.
SeriusGamerX, or SGX, is a streamer who mainly plays No Man's Sky. His whole gimmick is that he's an evil overlord, playing in character as "The Gek Emporer," whom he described over email to Kotaku as "a character that is supposed to be evil ... and [the] rightful conquerors of the No Man's Sky universe."
It's common for his streams to begin with orchestral music and self-aggrandising speeches, which then segues into him chain-smoking and talking about his nefarious plans with his friends as he roams around the No Man's Sky universe.
SeriusGamerX is not the only No Man's Sky player with a gimmick. Roleplaying is a big part of the player community, which includes player-made civilisations, governments and police forces, often populated by roleplayers acting their parts. But the people who have run into SGX aren't all down with this character and behaviour.
Lillihop, the player who saw her base destroyed, is a No Man's Sky community member who runs Cafe 42. It's a No Man's Sky fan space on the social networking site Amino, and it has over 400 members.
"It's the most troll-free place I've ever been," she said over Twitter direct messages. "We're neutral, and support all players — as long as they aren't doing actual harm to others' game play."
Lillihop is one of the few female civilisation leaders, something she takes pride in. She sees herself as a kind of mediator between civilisations, so when she saw that SGX was catching the ire of other players and civilisations, she tweeted to him asking to chat. Soon afterward, she tweeted that SGX had erased one of her bases and derided her on stream for being a woman, and was also threatening to take another landmark base of hers she made as a gift to another civilisation.
Her base isn't the only base that SGX has allegedly overwritten, but it was the only one that came with a side helping of sexist commentary.
The former location of Lillihop's base.
Erasing a base in No Man's Sky is pretty easy to do. Each planet can only have a certain number of bases that are visible to other players. In many communities, it's considered polite not to claim a base on a planet that has other bases on it already.
What SGX did was go to planets in civilised space, meaning communities like Cafe 42 or the Galactic Hub, travel to places where he knew player-made bases existed, and claim bases at the same site, effectively destroying them. He's also left some rude comments in his wake, all in keeping with his evil overlord persona. In one stream, he re-words a comment a couple of times because the profanity filter won't let him submit his desired message: "I pissed at your door."
The No Man's Sky community has largely stood behind Lillihop, in part because of comments SGX made about her on his stream. "He went on and on of how it's a joke for a female to run a community, how females can't run anything, etc," Lillihop said.
"I'm like family to everyone and they know I'm a girl so this just set them off. I'm one of the few ever to have a full on civ, community, and building a hub with others now — as a girl. So it was a slap in the face, publicly, right after I offered to assist him before he did something stupid that would cause him to be hated."
Popular No Man's Sky YouTuber CobraTV tweeted to SGX that, "roleplaying does not include being sexist and discrimination," and 7101334, leader of the Galactic Hub, also encouraged other players to report SGX's channel for harassment.
7101334 provided Kotaku with a tip for restoring erased bases.. If you go back to a previous save where the base is visible to other players, then change a minor element like removing and then adding a chair or a flag, your base you be visible again within an hour.
"No Man's Sky shows the most recently updated base, not the most recently claimed base," he said. "I've kept the info under wraps because I didn't want trolls to use the same technique, but with only 14 days until [the next update], I think it would do more good than potential harm at this point."
SGX has not denied that he threatened Lillihop's base, nor has he recanted his statement that he "doesn't like female leaders," in No Man's Sky. He just doesn't see what the big deal is.
dude!!! wtf??? where is the sexist thing? only cause i said i dont like female leaders? or i dont accept them? I can ovewrite anyones base if thats what the games providing me! those guys took it personally over a game! thats disquisting! ITS A GAME AND ITS MY SHOW!
— SeriusGamerX (@SeriusGamerX) July 9, 2018
"I know some people don't like the way I roleplay," SGX said to Kotaku, "but do you get angry at actors on screen when they play EVIL as part of the character?" In a two hour video titled "A BIG MESSAGE TO THE NO MAN'S SKY COMMUNITY," SGX reiterated this point numerous times: he's just roleplaying, and the people who are criticising him and reporting his channel are the real bullies and harassers.
"Criticising me all over the internet as a personality is a thing that they should be ashamed of as a community!" he told Kotaku. "And driving people into reporting me and my channel and trying to shut me down! That is the true face of the community!"
Lillihop said over DMs that the No Man's Sky roleplaying community members that she knows are "livid" at getting used as an excuse for SGX's actions. One such group, the Collectors, roleplay as antagonists against the Galactic Hub.
They addressed the situation by tweeting their definition of roleplaying: "players assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories and determine the actions of their characters according to a system of guidelines. Within the rules, they may improvise freely; and shape the game." They added, "SeriusGamerX brings us amateur hour."
Despite the blowback, SGX did not say he has any intention of playing the game any differently. "For me in roleplay there has to be a freedom of choice! If I'm playing the evil guy, then I have to be evil guy also in the game!" he said. "Actual roleplay involves gameplay too. And if that means messing with people around a little bit, then that's what it is."
Lillihop isn't going to let a little piracy stop her from running her civilisation and building new bases. "At this point, I've moved from the coffee cup base I'm known for [that SGX is threatening] and relocated. He can take the base, but he won't take the Cafe," she said over DMs. She described the No Man's Sky community as a country that the players who participate in civilised space inhabit and, ideally, work together to protect.
"We're the protectors of dreams," she said. "I guess when you see this simulation as an extension of your own world, you become passionate about it and want to see it thrive and blossom."
"Hello Games may never know my name, but I love what they have given me and my simulated world full of travellers the world over that I adore," Lillihop said. "I'll always protect this, and I'll always support it. It's truly my home away from home, and I thank them so much for that."