Game sites respond to blatantly homophobic effort to remove NYC pride flags from Spider-Man

It’s no secret that the tech industry in general, and the gaming industry in particular, can attract more than their share of cretinous bro types, full of themselves — and misogyny and homophobia.

So it’s nice when part of that industry steps forward and does the right thing in a very public way.

First, some background:

If you are a fan of Marvel’s Spider-Man you’ve no doubt been aware since 2018 that there are pride flags interspersed in the game throughout Manhattan. Checkpoint Gaming explained at the time:

Ryan Benno, one of the developers on the game, responded to a popular tweet highlighting Spider-Man in front of the flag making it clear that the choice was deliberate.

Further to that the game includes a secret achievement that asks you to photograph secret locations around the city which includes this particular flag adjacent to a rainbow mural. Upon taking the photograph you receive an on screen prompt that this location represents the Stonewall Inn, a location steeped in LGBTIQA+ history.

While it may seem like a small detail this does point to active decision by the team at Insomniac. The flag and the fact that it can be found across the city for Spider-Man to perch on for selfies shows a recognition to the large impact the LGBTIQA+ community has had on New York. While this small moment might have brought a smile to my face I cannot imagine what it would do for younger members of our community who so desperately need to see welcoming imagery in the media.

A subsequent version of the game, Spider-Man Remastered, included the NYC Pride flags and, as far as I can tell, may have added a few more.

But recently some bad actors in the genre have been uploading a version to popular modding sites that pointedly removes the pride flags.

How big a loser do you have to be to take the time to remove something so ancillary, yet so positive, using a game mod? (If you are unfamiliar with mods, read this article.)

I’ve been doing LGBTQ civil rights work for a very long time, and this becomes more true the longer I am around homophobes: the more obsessed someone is about gays and gay sex, the higher the likelihood that they are actually seeking it out in secretive ways on the side. I’d bet the person(s) who did this pride flag removal mod spends a lot of time on Grindr hating themselves.

Anyway, back to the mods that removed the pride flags.

People on mod sites had become aware that people, quite possibly the same people on all mod sites, were uploading this anti-LGBT PC game mod for Spider-Man Remastered.

To the credit of the people who run some of the most popular mod sites, they acted quickly:

NexusMods and ModDB, two of the biggest online sites for PC game mods, have removed a project that cut the in-game pride flags from the recently-released PC port of Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. As NexusMods explained in a blog post, the mod was uploaded to its site by a brand new account with no modding history, which the site’s administrators suspect is a secondary account for one of the site’s users — a “sock puppet” account.

“It was very clearly done deliberately to be a troll mod,” NexusMods writes. “The fact the user needed to make a sock puppet like a coward to upload the mod showed their intent to troll and that they knew it would not be allowed. Had they not been a coward and had they used their main account instead, we would have simply removed the mod and told them that we did not want to host it, only banning them if they reuploaded it again after being fairly warned. The creation of the sock puppet removed any doubt and made it a very easy decision for us.”

As well as removing the mod, NexusMods says it’s banned both “the sock puppet account and the user’s main account.” The mod replaced the pride flags found around New York City with the United States flag, which is frequently seen in the original game.

This is a hopeful development during a time when anti-LGBT hatred is starting to make a comeback in very public ways.

You can read the rest of Jon Porter’s article in The Verge here.

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