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Viral is an understatement when it comes to the Starfield controversy. Gaming content creators across platforms made their voices heard about their distaste for a mechanic in Starfield, a futuristic game developed by Bethesda on September 6, 2023. Bethesda is well-known for their massively successful open-world game, Skyrim. Bethesda is known for The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises. Starfield was available on Xbox Series X|S and PC on release.
What’s so “Controversial” About Starfield?
The Starfield controversy centers around a game mechanic most players would probably miss or deem typical. Still, for others, seeing themselves represented in a game made by such a large studio makes a huge impact.
Starfield allows players to select their character’s preferred pronouns during character creation. In addition, this allows players to change their character’s pronouns after character creation, treating pronouns like any other character customization feature. Players can go to an “Enhance! Clinic” and pay 500 in-game credits to change their character’s pronouns. Choosing pronouns helps better shape the game’s dialogue around you, the protagonist.
However, pronoun customization on its own isn’t what this controversy is about. The controversy centers around the huge influencers in the gamer community that harshly criticized Bethesda.
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Outraged Creators Vocalize their Opinions
Upon the release of Starfield, many gaming content creators did so loudly, whether it was while they were live playing the game or offline.
Dr. Disrespect is a YouTuber and streamer with 4.52M subscribers and is no stranger to being in the middle of controversies. Earlier this year, Bethesda rejected his sponsorship request for Starfield because of his involvement in another creator’s homophobic controversy.
In June of 2023, Nickmercs had his Call of Duty Operator skin removed from the game because of homophobic comments that he posted on Twitter. After Activision removed the skin, Dr. Disrespect uninstalled the game and declared that he would not play the game in support of Nickmercs unless Activision “publicly apologizes.”
Since this scene, Starfield has been released, and Dr. Disrespect has tried the game. However, when brought to the part of character creation where players choose character pronouns, he said, “Everything is starting to make sense.” In light of this video, Twitter users have sparked discussions and induced backlash on Dr. Disrespect to deconstruct hate and anger on Starfield.
Dr. Disrespect was rejected a Starfield sponsorship deal due to his recent transphobia, and he got triggered on stream because the head of Bethesda publishing has pronouns in his bio
These guys wouldn’t survive MW2 lobbies if pronouns trigger them pic.twitter.com/mg1cu5XeH2
— thaena 🌸 (@ppPepoComfy) September 2, 2023
Dr Disrespect may have been the biggest name to have joined in on the Starfield controversy. Despite this, he was far from the only creator to be vocally against the game’s inclusion of character pronouns.
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HeelvsBabyface is a YouTuber and streamer with 349K subscribers. He went viral across social media because of his poor reaction to the pronoun selection option in the character creation screen. The viral video of HeelvsBabyface shows him going on an expletive-ridden tirade. He claims Bethesda is “narcissistic” for not allowing players to remain immersed in their world by allowing players to choose their character’s pronouns.
NinaInfinity is a gaming YouTuber with 23.2K subscribers and difficulty accepting Starfield’s pronoun selector in the character creation screen. She made this very clear by posting that she had almost had her game refunded when she noticed the pronouns option. Later that same day, she posted that she ended up having the game refunded because of glitches she experienced and the pronouns option.
We know that gaming content creators seem to be creating this Starfield controversy with their reactions to the game having a pronoun selector in character creation, but how are other gamers reacting?
The video of HeelvsBabyface reacting to the pronoun selector in the game was reported and posted to Pop Crave’s X account. In response to Pop Crave reporting on his reaction, a player posted in the replies, “We’ve been able to choose our sex and use pronouns in a game since I was a child. Please don’t act like this is new!” Many Twitter users harshly criticized Heel and other creators who vocalized their distaste for the pronoun feature.
YouTuber HeelvsBabyface has meltdown on camera in response to video game Starfield allowing players to choose pronouns for their in-game character. https://t.co/vdhWLxaAu8
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 4, 2023
Recently, Nexus Mods, a site for gamers to download mods to enhance their gaming experience, banned a Starfield mod that removed the pronouns feature. Nexus stated that they wanted its removal to remain apolitical. Nexus’s motto stands by diversity and inclusion within their community, and they believe that the “removal of diversity, while appealing to many, does not promote a positive modding community.”
Starfield’s pronoun-removal mod has been banned by NexusMods.
“We stand for diversity and inclusion in our community and the removal of diversity, while appealing to many, does not promote a positive modding community.”
“Frankly, we are not sad to see them go.”
— PC_Focus 🔴 (@PC_enjoyer) September 17, 2023
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Closing Thoughts on the Starfield Controversy
The Starfield controversy, but is this controversy really about Starfield? This controversy seems to be a lot more about content creators learning that what they say online can and will impact them. Brands with integrity and promoting inclusivity won’t work with creators who openly tout hateful thoughts and opinions. Creators who vocalize these opinions must understand the consequences of their actions, including the loss of sponsorships and brand trust.
And think about it: what makes the creator economy so unique is the plethora of creators that foster relationships with their audience, regardless of their identity. And here at NeoReach, we believe everyone belongs in the creator economy and deserves to feel validated for who they are.
Brands that promote inclusivity and diversity within their spaces must seek partnerships that endorse the same messages. If you’re a brand searching for influencers to partner with, you must research to ensure your influencer properly promotes your brand’s message. Likewise, if you’re a creator, please understand that what you say online will impact your reputation and career.