On October 17th, 2018 Kotaku published an article titled “MapleStory 2 Players Keep Submitting And Selling Bigoted Items To The Shop”. The gist of the article attempts to paint Nexon in a negative light for allowing gamers to make items that they would like to buy and wear in the free-to-play MMORPG using the custom design shop known as the Meret Market.
Kotaku attempted to conflate the items related to President Trump with content that worth banning, even going so far as to seek out a quote from Nexon regarding their curation process for user-generated content after Kotaku encountered a marketplace full of MAGA hats, Trump vans, and other pro-America swag. Nexon responded with a statement that reads…
“ All the items under the ‘Design Shop’ are created by players, not Nexon. Our policy is to let players create, but we review and ban players and content based on ToS and reports of offensive content.
“We actively monitor the Design Shop for offensive material as well as have a reporting system so that players can report content they find offensive through built-in tools. Based on the report, we tightly review every single item and remove the item from the shop, and from the inventory of the players who purchased, and ban player accounts. Content containing sexual, racist, hateful or other inappropriate items are flagged higher in priority for removal. Players who post offensive items or images are subject to being banned permanently from the game. We have been acting very quickly and ask that whenever players see those items in the shop to report immediately using the report button.
“Given the volume of the reports, there has been a delay in the review process. We are trying our best to continue to reduce the gap and speed up the response time to make a better game and maintain a respectful community.”
Nexon wisely avoids making any of the politically partisan comments that would likely net them brownie points with Left-wing media, and instead attempts to keep their item curation and content monitoring statements neutral.
Following Nexon’s statement, Kotaku continued to frame any attempts to be pro-American in a negative light, writing…
“If you search “MAGA” in the Meret Market, you will immediately find a vehicle with President Trump’s face on it, as well as an image of “NPC Wojak,” a reference to the dehumanizing NPC meme.”
It’s true that the Meret Market, as of October 21st, 2018, is filled with MAGA material, as it appears to be some of the more popular items featured within the digital store.
Not content with flagrantly wanting to prohibit users from showing pride in being American, Kotaku also criticized gamers for making waifu material, and creating parody clothing based on PornHub’s logo.
The most hypocritical statements made by Kotaku, however, was in their support for the user-generated content for gay pride, while also condemning users who created content celebrating white pride, where they write…
“More worrying are the explicit references to white supremacy. Searching for “pride” in the Meret Market yields gay and trans pride themed items, but you’ll also be able to find a shirt that says “Proud To Be White,” with the tag “WhitePower.””
Following the publication of Kotaku’s article, the “White Power” content has been removed from the store, but there are pages upon pages of trans, gay, lesbian, and pansexual flags, shirts, and content available in the Meret Market.
Some users tried justifying why gay pride wasn’t political but racial pride was, with one user on the MapleStory 2 sub-reddit stating that it’s more of a “celebration” than it is a “movement”.
Having gay pride material within MapleStory 2 is obviously a sociopolitical gesture based on identitarianism. The fact that certain forms of identitarianism is allowed in MapleStory 2 while other forms are not is a clear case of Nexon applying double standards to the user-generated marketplace.
This fits in line with what YouTuber TheQuartering brought out by mentioning that Nexon is obviously playing favorites when it comes to the politics allowed in the game.
As noted in the Kotaku piece, words like “trump” and “porn” are banned and items in the Meret Marketplace cannot contain those words. However, Nexon further shows its hypocrisy by allowing users to post up material and items related to Obama, as pictured below.
The Kotaku story rounds out by condemning the appearance of Trump masks and MAGA hats, while also attempting to conflate them with white supremacy, writing…
“[…] One player who wished to remain anonymous told Kotaku that they have seen items like this on the Meret Market since the game’s official launch on October 10. “It’s really overt,” they said. “People will advertise in world chat channels to buy their new items, and its often a MAGA hat or something. And the players putting these designs up for sale are rewarded with game currency.” On the MapleStory 2 subreddit, players have shared images of characters wearing Trump masks and MAGA hats as far back as three months ago. […]”
“[…] It’s not clear who are making and downloading these items. They might be trolls looking to get a rise of people online. They might also be real white supremacists trying to recruit people, as some have claimed to have done in other online games. No matter what, it’s disturbing than an impressionable kid could find white supremacist content in a chipper-looking game just by searching for the word “proud,” and hopefully MapleStory 2’s developers will succeed in their stated efforts to “speed up the response time” to players’ reports.”
While Nexon has yet to remove all of the MAGA hats and some of the Trump paraphernalia, it’s still rather obvious that the company is playing favorites when it comes to allowing politically-themed content in MapleStory 2. Items labeled with “Obama” are okay, but items labeled “Trump” are removed. Gay pride items are okay, but not racial pride.
Kotaku also tried to play the “think of the children” angle when it came to the MAGA content, but why would it be more okay for your kid to know about gay sex as opposed to national pride?
There appears to be a one-way street of identitarianism heading Left when it comes to certain items that are allowed on the Meret Market.
Nexon really needs to tread carefully with MapleStory 2 when it comes to censoring certain sociopolitical items in the game while allowing other items. This kind of double-standard will only hurt them in the long run as the news continues to spread.
The company just came off the controversy of having to shut down Hyper Universe due to a low player count, which was partly spawned from the flagrant censorship that affected both the PC and Korean versions of the game (however, it will still be active on the Xbox One, according to Nexon).
Nexon attempted to correct-course with MapleStory 2 by removing the censorship, but now they’ve ended up in another situation involving censoring certain sociopolitical items on the Right while allowing certain other items from the Left in the Meret Market.
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