Bethesda has banned a group of Fallout 76 players for life after they launched a homophobic attack on others in the game. "We have come to eliminate all gays," players can be heard saying in a video of the incident.
As reported by Eurogamer, the incident, which originally took place a couple weeks ago, lasted about 10 minutes and consisted of one group of Fallout 76 players taunting and harassing another group using homophobic slurs over proximity chat while trying to hunt them down.
Fallout 76 is an online game where players coexist on a single map and are able to team-up, trade, or in this case virtually recreate hate crimes.
One of the victims, AJ, recorded video of the encounter and shared it on Twitter in an attempt to get the maker of the game, Bethesda, to take note of the incident and punish the players involved. "I'm calling bully hunters," someone can be heard saying in the video, to which one of the attackers responds, "Bully hunters? You're gonna have to call better than that, we're the gay eliminators."
The same person can later be heard saying, "We're cleansing the wasteland," while another repeatedly refers to AJ's group as "faggots," while laughing throughout the entire thing. Eventually they managed to kill AJ's character. NathanTheHicc, one of the attackers, later uploaded his own footage of the incident to YouTube under the title "Cleansing the Queers."
So @bethesda, how do we report people in @Fallout? @ChipWhitehouse @Handsandhead and I literally had our characters hunted down and killed by homophobic players. I'll post more of the video in a thread. Strong language warning. pic.twitter.com/gN1rsRFz1h
— AJpls (@twitch_ajpls) November 16, 2018
Bethesda, who did not return a request for comment by Kotaku, told Eurogamer that it had initially instituted a three-day ban against the offending players after AJ shared the footage with them. However, after reviewing the incident further, the publisher decided to ban the players for life instead.
One of those players, NathanTheHicc, told Eurogamer that he doesn't regret role-playing a hate crime in the game and wouldn't apologise if given the chance. "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," he said. "You can call that evil but I think it's just playful immaturity."
Meanwhile AJ told the website that he and his friends found the entire episode shocking and disgusting. He continued:
"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."
While players in Fallout 76 can block one another, there's no in-game report feature. Short of sharing footage on social media or going to the press, there appear to be few ways to alert Bethesda about incidents like this and help prevent them from happening again in the future.