Popular game modding hub Nexus Mods has banned any mods related to “sociopolitical issues in the United States” until at least next year’s presidential inauguration. Site owner Robin Scott explained that he’d seen “a spate of provocative and troll mods” designed to provoke site users, and as a result, the site will take down any US politics mods that were uploaded on or after September 28th.
Scott said that Nexus Mods administrators “have neither the time, the care or the wish to moderate” trollish political mods. “Considering the low quality of the mods being uploaded, the polarizing views they express, and the fact that a small but vocal contingent of our users are seemingly not intelligent or grown up enough to be able to debate the issues without resorting to name calling and baseless accusations … we’ve decided to wipe our hands clean of this mess.” The news was reported on Twitter by Paste Games editor-at-large Holly Green.
Scott wrote that Nexus Mods will reconsider its policy “sometime after the next President of the United States has been inaugurated,” without an explicit end date.
Nexus Mods, which lets people share custom game modifications, is popular among fans of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series among other titles. Users can find everything from rebalanced game mechanics to extra content to nude models for game characters. But in the past days, some users have complained about low-quality mods designed to make sometimes inflammatory political statements, particularly an anti-antifascist Fallout 4 mod that apparently included a photo of a shooting victim from Kenosha, Wisconsin. The mod (which apparently didn’t work) was supposed to rename the game’s common raider enemies to “antifa.” Other mods added content like “thin blue line” flags or flags supporting Black Lives Matter, which could spark bitter arguments.
Comments on the news post were locked, but responses on the Skyrim and Fallout modding subreddits were largely positive. “I’m not American and I’m sick of seeing those lazy flag mods and the awful comments in them,” wrote one person, expressing a sentiment echoed across both forums. Some users described being sick of seeing any reminders of real-world politics, although others pointed out that it’s not clear how far a ban on “sociopolitical issues” would stretch, and Fallout itself parodies Cold War-era American politics.
During the volatile 2020 election season, large social networks have tried to design policies that maximize freedom of expression while removing harmful content across platforms with millions or billions of users. Smaller forums can create more community-specific policies. Some have used this to set political boundaries: the popular Ravelry knitting community, for instance, banned support for President Donald Trump last year.
But Scott’s post suggests that Nexus Mods was just sick of users uploading content designed to upset other community members, and it decided to take a brute-force approach to the problem. “To be blunt, we do not care how this looks nor do we care if you think the mods we do or don’t moderate reflect on us, our political beliefs or what we do and don’t want on our site,” he wrote.