There's a popular version of the online game RuneScape that preserves what it looked like in 2007, but it seems like some of its users' political views are stuck in a time much further back.
When Old School RuneScape developer Jagex announced it would be hosting an in-game LGBTQ pride event for its thousands of users, it sparked a massive backlash. Now, some players plan on hosting an in-game riot to protest the event.
Protestors allege the event is meant to oppose the existence of all in-game events that push a political agenda, but the whole kerfuffle is highlighting a hypocrisy that's permeated the gaming world for a while now. When games start tackling topics that a portion of its fanbase deem objectionable, they claim they want their games to be free of politics — ignoring, of course, that everything in their games up until that point have always been steeped in politics.
Old School RuneScape is hosting a one-day Pride event, and some fans have planned to riot.
A quick glance at the Old School RuneScape forums yields an overwhelming amount of threads opposing the event. For example, one, posted by user Gabe A M10, said the following:
The fact remains being gay is not normal, it's not wrong but it doesn't fit the standard of a Human. So why it gets a Gay Pride event is beyond me, if a Gay organization wants one in a city and they'll pay for it sure, but not on a game that people use to escape politics.
Gabe A M10 then alleged, shortly after saying that gay people don't "fit the standard of a human," that LGBTQ people are "not oppressed," and therefore a Pride celebration is not necessary. Of course, that's one of the more extreme examples, but the Old School RuneScape forums are riddled with these threads opposing the pride event.
The protest, which has largely been organized on /r/2007scape, claims it's not "in opposition of LGBTQ people or their rights ... it is a riot against Jagex sanctioning holiday events for every social/political cause under the sun. It is a riot in support of keeping this game free of any agenda whatsoever, whether righteous or not."
Past examples of RuneScape's in-game events that these fans claim to have always opposed include those for the World Wildlife Foundation and Valentine's Day.
To its credit, Jagex isn't caving to the pressure.
"We are disappointed to see some hateful and abusive comments targeting individual members of staff and players from a small sub-section of the community," Jagex said in a statement to Mic. "We stand side-by-side with those targeted, in support of them, and in support of this cause. There is absolutely no place for hateful behavior in our community and we will not tolerate abuse or harassment."
Old RuneScape's controversial pride event tasks players with making a rainbow scarf. That's it.
So, what will this aggressively political event actually look like?
"The event is very simple and straightforward," Mathew Kemp, Jagex's senior product manager, told Motherboard. "Players have to collect pieces of a rainbow that's scattered around the world, and they put them together and create a rainbow-colored scarf."
Yep, that's the event inspiring vehement outrage. Players who choose to participate in this optional event will make a rainbow scarf. OK, but surely this event will be plastered all over Old School RuneScape and be completely overwhelming and in-your-face, right?
"If you don't go looking for it, you won't notice it," Kemp said on /r/2007scape under the name ModMatK. "I think it takes up a total of seven map tiles (that's the small ones about one person big)."
Jagex will ban abusive players, but will allow the protests to continue.
Luckily, it doesn't seem like Jagex is paying the outrage too much mind. Kemp said that it will allow players who wish to protest to do so peacefully.
"However," Kemp continued. "I get the feeling some of the chat will be unacceptable and we'll take care of that."
In a statement sent to Mic, Old RuneScape developer Jagex said the following:
One of the wonderful things about RuneScape is that it has always brought people together. To many of our players, RuneScape is more than a game: it's a warm, welcoming community. It's part of their life.
Pride is about bringing communities together and celebrating love and understanding: sentiment that’s close to RuneScape's heart. There’s no political statement here. Our only aim is to acknowledge and honor an event that promotes empathy, acceptance and love.
As with other community events such as the WWF Big Cats campaign, Valentine’s day or the Cryptic Cluefests we decided not to poll this event and we will always try to surprise the community with similar events. It is something that the community has always enjoyed and something we enjoy doing too.
We are disappointed to see some hateful and abusive comments targeting individual members of staff and players from a small sub-section of the community. We stand side-by-side with those targeted, in support of them, and in support of this cause. There is absolutely no place for hateful behavior in our community and we will not tolerate abuse or harassment.
Pride 2017 is something we wholeheartedly agree with and are proud to support. We know the community stand with us in support of the cause. If you want to show your support, all you have to do is take part in the event when it launches!
OldSchool RuneScape's pride event will take place on Thursday, June 8. If you want to participate, you can sign up for an account here — just try not to trip any protestors with that fabulous scarf of yours.
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