Bethesda banned several Fallout 76 players for life after a video showed them engaging in a homophobic attack against another group of players.
Warning this story contains language some viewers might find upsetting or offensive.
Eurogamer reported on the events that led up to Bethesda issuing a permanent ban on a group of Fallout 76 players who were caught on tape stalking and harassing another group of players. A video of the attack has audio where you can hear the group saying: "we have come to eliminate all gays."
Twitch streamer AJ captured the incident on video and tweeted it to Bethesda on November 15. In it you can hear the offending players follow and target AJ's group for about 10 minutes. The lead player in the attacking group goes by the username NathanTheHicc and can be heard saying "queer down" and "decontaminate aids," during the attack.
Called themselves the "gay eliminators" "cleansing the wasteland of the queers" "know what we did to your people back then, we killed them" THIS is the stuff said to us tonight when playing Fallout. @bethesda @BethesdaStudios @Fallout #Fallout #Fallout76 pic.twitter.com/zwPuz7AbsG— AJpls (@twitch_ajpls) November 16, 2018
Audio was discernable due to Fallout 76's proximity chat which lets players speak and listen to other players who are nearby. The feature is turned on by default and is meant to promote user interaction in Bethesda's online multiplayer game.
AJ published the video in hopes of drawing attention to Bethesda's lack of in-game reporting features. "These guys were running around targeting people and what if they targeted a kid playing that was struggling with their identity?" AJ told Eurogamer. "What if they said all those things to someone that was playing solo and didn't have anyone to talk to?"
AJ said that his video of the events was sent to Bethesda and the company offered help on how to report the incident. Even then there were some issues as Bethesda's reporting site couldn't accept the file type for AJ's recordings and that the page would fail to load. "It seems very difficult to report players," AJ says.
NathanTheHicc also uploaded a video of the events though he titled his video "Cleansing of the queers." When reached for comment, NathanTheHicc called the events "playful immaturity" and declined to apologize.
"It was disgusting. The three of us stream and put ourselves out there on the internet and are not strangers to homophobic comments but this was so extreme," AJ says.
NathanTheHicc and his group were initially given a three-day ban as Bethesda's team investigated the matter. "After additional review, we have now permanently banned the players we've identified," says Bethesda.
A Bethesda spokesperson said that Fallout 76 "empowers players to permanently block other players" which is a feature in-game. "We will not tolerate this kind of behavior by any of our players, nor towards any of our players. We will continue to investigate claims of misconduct or abuse – along with Microsoft and Sony – and take action when necessary."
AJ says that the features don't go far enough and that in-game reporting should be added. "Simply blocking someone from a session is only temporarily protecting yourself, but not stopping anything from happening again or to other people." Games like Overwatch also implemented in-game reporting features into PC and console versions but only after launch and after players began requesting the feature as a defense against toxicity.