MapleStory 2 Players Keep Submitting And Selling Bigoted Items To The Shop

Screenshot: MapleStory 2, Nexon

Players of the kid-friendly MMO MapleStory 2 say that the player-created item shop is rife with racism and anime porn.

The Maple Story 2 team told Kotaku that they “actively monitor the Design Shop for offensive material as well as have a reporting system,” but also: “Given the volume of the reports, there has been a delay in the review process.”

MapleStory 2 is an MMO full of bright primary colours and adorable player characters. While MapleStory 2 doesn’t have an age rating, the first MapleStory was rated 10+ by the ESRB, and the sequel’s rounded corners and cutesy aesthetic make it appear as if it’s intended to appeal to children, at least in part.

In the game, players can make items and upload them to a store where other players can buy them, called the Meret Shop. While the game bans certain words, including “trump” and “porn,” some players have found ways to get around the bans and upload items with political slogans or sexual references.

The MapleStory 2 team described the process in its full statement to Kotaku:

“All the items under the ‘Design Shop’ are created by players, not Nexon. Our policy is to let players create, but we review and ban players and content based on ToS and reports of offensive content.

We actively monitor the Design Shop for offensive material as well as have a reporting system so that players can report content they find offensive through built-in tools. Based on the report, we tightly review every single item and remove the item from the shop, and from the inventory of the players who purchased, and ban player accounts.

Content containing sexual, racist, hateful or other inappropriate items are flagged higher in priority for removal. Players who post offensive items or images are subject to being banned permanently from the game. We have been acting very quickly and ask that whenever players see those items in the shop to report immediately using the report button.

Given the volume of the reports, there has been a delay in the review process. We are trying our best to continue to reduce the gap and speed up the response time to make a better game and maintain a respectful community.”

At the time of this writing, players have definitely found ways around the ban of the word “trump,” for example. If you search “MAGA” in the Meret Market, you will immediately find a vehicle with President Trump’s face on it, as well as an image of “NPC Wojak,” a reference to the dehumanising NPC meme.

Screenshot: MapleStory 2, Nexon

While some players clearly want to share their political opinions, others just want to get sex-related content in there. Searching “hub,” for example, yields clothing items with a riff on the PornHub logo. Other players are less subtle: searching “waifu” will show you pornographic images of anime characters.

More worrying are the explicit references to white supremacy. Searching for “pride” in the Meret Market yields gay and trans pride themed items, but you’ll also be able to find a shirt that says “Proud To Be White,” with the tag “WhitePower.”

Screenshot: MapleStory 2, Nexon

One player who wished to remain anonymous told Kotaku that they have seen items like this on the Meret Market since the game’s official launch on October 10.

“It’s really overt,” they said. “People will advertise in world chat channels to buy their new items, and its often a MAGA hat or something. And the players putting these designs up for sale are rewarded with game currency.”

On the MapleStory 2 subreddit, players have shared images of characters wearing Trump masks and MAGA hats as far back as three months ago.

This player told Kotaku that they’d tried reporting the items, but nothing had happened. “The same items are still up for sale. You still see them all over,” they said.

“They might have people working on it, but I’ve seen absolutely no change in anything. Items put up for sale don’t have to be approved, so people can put up anything.”

It’s not clear who are making and downloading these items. They might be trolls looking to get a rise of people online. They might also be real white supremacists trying to recruit people, as some have claimed to have done in other online games.

No matter what, it’s disturbing than an impressionable kid could find white supremacist content in a chipper-looking game just by searching for the word “proud,” and hopefully MapleStory 2's developers will succeed in their stated efforts to “speed up the response time” to players’ reports.


Comments

    This article is indeed bigoted but not for the reason the author thinks.

      Failing to see whatever angle you're taking here? In what sense are you claiming the article is bigoted?

        How dare people produce political content I don’t like. Only my viewpoint should be accepted.

          I thought it would be pretty self-evident and non-controversial that PornHub, white pride, and Hitler images would be unacceptable in an ERSB 10+ game, but hey I'm constantly surprised.

            I'm pretty sure they're referring to the Trump and MAGA bans, which I find kind of bewildering myself.

              I thought my comment (which didn't criticise the Trump or MAGA content, despite my personal feelings about that) would be something we could all agree on, yet it still got down voted so I'm not really sure what their opinion is tbh

                I agree with the pornhub and Hitler because those are just out to shock but I think it is disingenuous to make a blanket statement like being proud to be white is the same as white supremacy.

                Jesus these ads are making it tedious to engage in conversation.

                  If you look at the original and context behind phrases like "OK to be white", you'll see it is inextricably linked to white supremacist groups. They didn't just adopt the phrase, they coined it.To support that phrase is to align yourself with those values. To be clear, people who refute the phrase are not implying that it's not OK to be white (apologies for the double negative), they're against supporting language associated with hate groups.

                  I also see some conflict in the way that, when progressive 'politically correct' values appear in games, there are people that are quick to express disdain and the desire to keep games apolitical. Yet, when it's an opposition to conservative values, the response is often like the one you quoted above.

                  Genuine question: Would you take issue with the article if it was discussing the inclusion of values like Black Lives Matter or Believe Survivors?

                  @mogwai “It’s okay to be white” started as a 4chan meme deliberately to incite outrage from people who subscribe to absurd levels of identity politics - ironically the kinds of people that the “dehumanising” NPC Wojack meme targets.

                  I agree that things like “Proud to be white” are hate-orientated though, nobody should be proud of their arbitrary skin colour.

                @soldant (replying here because I think the reply thread had tree'd too far.

                It existed prior to 4chan's usage but yeah, 4chan adoption is generally acknowledged to be the point where it was used as political subterfuge to bait progressives. However, it is a slogan than has been used by white supremacist groups, like the KKK themselves, in the early 2000s. Either way, you can't get away from it's connotations.

      spot on.

    I came across a character bearing the guild name the other day so yeah, the fascists have infested the game shockingly fast.

    "as well as an image of “NPC Wojak,” a reference to the dehumanising NPC meme."
    hahaha holy shit I can't believe what I'm reading
    I'm not surprised that one didn't make it to the AU site.

      I was kinda waiting for that one to turn up.

        Would've been a field day in the comments.
        "this forced meme from 4chan that even they don't like, to the point that anyone who posts it gets insulted, is barely offensive, and that's too offensive"

    You know what would help? Screen shots of things that might actually offend people. every image posted is something I laughed at and would have no problem with. I know of no one who actually take those things seriously. additionally the only one that could really be offensive to anyone is a photo of Adolf. other than that... I have no problem with the rest of them that you showed.

    OK, so white supremacist groups and the like deliberately use loaded terms like 'it's ok to be white' as a means of spreading their ideology to impressionable people. It's a stated goal of those movements. As far as I understand it, the idea is to saturate usage of the term so that people are accustomed to hearing it - always defend it by just saying 'it's a meme' or 'it's ok to be offended' or 'blah blah snowflake blah' (kudos to the comments section here, already seen a couple of similar comments) - then you've created yourself a covert, publicly acceptable way of saying 'white power' to like minded people, and a normalisation tool to help you with recruitment. Invisible hate speech.

    Phrases like 'it's OK to be white' and 'not all men' have power because they're not technically wrong - but the literal meaning is absolutely not the one that the author is intending to express. Also, those phrases may well be literally correct, but it's more correct imo to say, 'it's OK to be anyone at all' or 'some men are violent towards women and that's a problem'. But if you use the former phrasing, you'll most likely get a bunch of non-white supremacist people - libertarians, people who are extremely literal, emotionally desensitised edge lords etc - jumping on the bandwagon to defend what you've said without realising (hopefully....) that it's coded hate speech. And voila! more normalisation.

    Thing is, I can't really hold it against anyone who doesn't realise the connection. But if you do, and you use or defend those phrases anyway, you're essentially saying that your right to say whatever you like is more important than someone else's right to not be vilified on the basis of their race or ethnicity. And that's bullshit.

      Yeah, part of it is about normalising this coded language. The other part is about baiting the left to look ridiculous.

      The use of the phrase is meant to 'trigger' the left/progressives, prompting them to predictably and vehemently oppose a phrase like "it's OK to be white" because of it's racist undertones. The follow on from white supremacists, the far/alt-right and general edgelords is to then drum up outrage by saying "so you're saying it's NOT OK to be white?? That's racist". This encourages average people who are unaware of the loaded-context of these phrases to be turned against the left because it appears that they hate white people.

        Yeah spot on. The irony of all this is that if left leaning people were a bit more like, 'haha wut? OK then..." instead of getting outraged (even if they were just internalising the outrage for appearances sake) it wouldn't work anywhere near as well.

        We need more logical and dispassionate debates generally I reckon.

          Nobody on either far side wants that because then you can't cry when you can't control the narrative.

          Yeah it's tough. Seeing this kind of discourse appearing in society, let alone the senate, is terrifying and really upsetting, and the natural response for many people it to express their immediate and unequivocal outrage, but this can be playing right into their hands. It feels like a Catch-22 sometimes.

      @derrick i completely agree that the "ok to be white" thing needed to be removed from the shop, if i was working as a GM i would have changed all the players characters skin tones to black instead of banning them but i like the lols. so to be clear i do not disagree with you at all but......

      what i don't understand is how the phrase "ok to be white" vilifies other peoples race or ethnicity could u explain that further for me please.

      Last edited 20/10/18 2:42 pm

        Technically, it doesn't. The language of the phrase has some racist undertones - saying 'it's ok to be white' instead of 'it's ok to be anything', subtly implies that 'it's only ok to be white' - but the literal meaning of the phrase is harmless by itself.

        That being said, nothing exists in a vacuum. The initial motivation for trying to get this phrase into high rotation was nefarious af. More broadly it allows white people to self-victimise as a defence against claims of victimhood from other more marginalised groups - even where those claims are neither in direct conflict with one another, nor comparable in severity. Not ideal.

        Last edited 23/10/18 2:57 pm

          okay i think i understand what your saying it sounds the same as the way people go after BLM by saying why not "all lives matter" the difference being that black people face additional hardships in life almost unique to them, which white people do not have therefore 'apples and oranges'

            Yeah exactly, 'all lives matter' is a great example of the self-victimisation defence.

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