A user from MechWarrior Online has released emails showing she received a 48 hour suspension from the game for starting messages in the in-game chat with the phrase “trans rights”.
Developer Piranha Games had responded to the player, who tweeted the messages out here, via its online support stating that “while real-life political discussions are important” the studio did not believe the online chat is the “appropriate environment for such discussions”.
I'm a member of an MWO clan that subtitled its two comp teams Trans Rights and Trans Fights. Within a week of the comp season starting, though, PGI staff renamed the teams, and our inquiries were uh… yeah. Those PGI tweets I link in my final email are in my first tweet. 2/ pic.twitter.com/oX05c0Fij0
— alpacagirl (@daalpacagirl) October 3, 2021
The developer of the free-to-play online mech simulation game initially sparked controversy in September when it changed the names for two teams entered for the championship. The teams originally named “KDCM V: Trans Rights” and “KDCM IV: Trans Fights” were altered to remove everything following the roman numeral.
When a member of the team contacted support about the decision they stated that they wanted MechWarrior Online to be a “fun and safe environment for all players”, further explaining that “while certain language, images, and content may not be offensive to you, consider that those items may have entirely different connotations or effects on someone else.”
Player daalpacagirl – who NME spoke to for this story and is a trans woman – later had her account suspended and her forum access revoked for two days, for beginning interactions in the in-game chat with the phrase “trans rights”. When asked to clarify this breach of rules senior customer support responded that the phrase constitutes “consistent and repetitive unsportsmanlike conduct” contributing towards “a general pattern of toxicity”. She was also warned that if she continues to use the phrase in-game following her suspension she will face a permanent ban.
The company, which has previously posted tweets including LGBT+ pride symbols and slogans such as the rainbow flag and the phrase “Love is Love”, has since reversed their decisions following online discussion.
The studio officially announced that revising the team names was “not the correct decision” and that it would be repealing any moderation actions taken in connection with this issue, including lifting the ban. The studio went on to state that it should have inquired as to the “true intent” of the team names.
“With the understanding that trans rights is not a political issue,” the post adds. “We will allow the team to use either of their original choices as their team name. Additionally, we will be reversing any moderation actions taken in connection with this moderation.”
— Piranha Games Inc. (@PiranhaGames) June 26, 2020
In tweets, president of Piranha Games, Russ Bullock, clarified that the word trans has been excluded in the EULA for a “very very long time” and stated that it is “disingenuous to immediately call PGI (the customer support team) anti trans”.
daalpacagirl told us about her view on the official statement, saying she was glad the studio has reversed its position, but showed concern about the required public pressure to get such a response. She further wrote that she will happily go back to playing MechWarrior Online but that considering Piranha Games‘ history of failure to “stop harassment in the community” she will temper her expectations in the future.
In other news, Genshin Impact update 2.2 launches on October 13 and brings with it a slew of extra content for the game, including the news that Aloy will finally be coming to other platforms.