How One Man Means to Defeat Donald Trump with Skyrim Mods

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 11:03 am, January 1, 2017
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Modifications for video games won’t change the world. Like the video games they’re based on, the most they can offer is entertainment. One man, a modder who goes by the name Apollodown, believes otherwise.

He intends to protest the election of Donald Trump through his modifications for Bethesda’s popular role-playing game, Skyrim.

Apollodown explained that his opposition to Trump stems from the views espoused by the President Elect, which he described as “so far afield from any standard of simple decency and respect.”

“I never thought Trump would win,” wrote Apollodown in a newly posted manifesto on Reddit. “When I saw the number of people who actually voted for him, I vomited. This is not an exaggeration, I actually threw up on the sidewalk in front of the bar I was watching the results at while the Hispanic [sic] cooks swore openly about him inside. Granted, had some drinks in me, but the sheer number of people who heard everything he said and said ‘sure, why not’ made me physically ill.”

I previously covered the pseudo-anonymous modder in a story about his monumental efforts at removing his Skyrim mods from a fansite called Skyrim Nexus, to protest Trump. He used his mods, which were popular at the time, as a political soapbox. Other modders and Skyrim fans were unimpressed.

“We dismiss the people screaming invectives over the internet, threatening people, and otherwise being utterly inhuman to each other as ‘trolls’,” he continued.

“Wikipedia defines a troll as a person who intentionally sows discord for the express purpose of getting an emotional response. The people over the years who have been on my pages saying horribly racist, sexist, and homophobic things—I was always able to live with it by imagining they were all written by the same imaginary 15 year old kid named Timmy living with his single mom in Kansas who is just a little sh*t.”

“But seeing that 63 million people voted for open racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homphobia—nearly a quarter of eligible voters in my country—made me realize that I had not been dealing with trolls. I have been dealing with real people with, no matter how evil and alien to me they may be, real opinions. And I realized that they cannot be dismissed.”

Apollodown talked about his struggles online, which includes doxing attempts to uncover his true identity and a whole lot of mockery. He explained his motivations for some of the content he put into his mods, stating that he noticed a “dramatic uptick in gendered/racial/anti-LGBTQ insults” coinciding with the rise of GamerGate, a consumer-driven movement for ethics in games journalism that has been unfairly maligned as a group of straight, while male gamers intent on driving women out of the video game industry.

Apollodown said he makes it a “huge point” to include minority representation in his creations because their absence was “so painfully obvious.” He added that Trump’s rise encouraged him to become even more militant.

Apollodown eventually realized that a real-life Nazi could have enjoyed one of his Skyrim mods. It prompted him to delete them and leave the scene. He rationalized his decision because his work as a civil rights attorney in Texas “quintupled” overnight due to Trump’s win, he says, but admitted to himself later that he’d simply “lost all joy modding” because some of the people who enjoy his work may have possibly voted for Trump.

The community has responded with apathy, with some stating they had no interest in his mods to begin with. Others called him hyperbolic.

Though many of them wished him well, they all ask the same question I have for Apollodown: how does Trump have any bearing on a fantasy video game where players pretend to be warriors who slay dragons, shoot magic out of their hands and yell skeletons off cliffs? If you know the answer, we’d like to know.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken game critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.