Skyrim is set in a world where gods and demons meddle in human affairs, affecting worldly politics. All manner of mythical beasts run amok, dragons terrorize the countryside, and the use of magic is commonplace. In other words, it’s pure escapist fantasy. There’s “racism,” but it’s of the fantastical variety involving swords, spells, and people with pointy ears.
So it’s incredibly out of place when a member of the Skyrim community decides to use Skyrim as a platform to promote their political agenda in an attempt to influence the US presidential election.
Developed by Bethesda, the popular role-playing game has been fertile ground for gamers and would-be game developers to create their own modifications. These mods, like those developed for Fallout 4, Minecraft, and a handful of other video games, provide numerous alterations, improvements, and additional content to the base title.
Civil War Overhaul is one such Skyrim mod, which attempts to “restore” and properly depict the civil war that’s only partially portrayed within the game. Promising to add elements otherwise missing from the core game, the mod was extremely well received by Skyrim players, garnering hundreds of thousands of downloads and over a million views since its release in 2013.
Its creator, who goes by the name “Apollodown,” decided to use the mod’s popularity as a political soapbox. He hid the mod, replacing it with a message supporting #BlackLivesMatter, #LGBTRights, #OccupyWallStreet, #TransIsBeautiful, #YesAllWomen, #RefugeesWelcome, and #ImWithHer — stating that he’ll only re-add it on November 9th.
The modder had previously gotten into arguments with other members of the Skyrim modding community after he participated in something called “Diversity Day” by adding members of various races into the game’s Stormcloaks faction, which is comprised entirely of Nords. The Stormcloaks is best described as a faction of xenophobic nativists. While other races in the Elder Scrolls universe are given representation in the game, their presence in the Nord-dominated land is scarce by design.
“For me diversity is that each region has its [sic] distinct culture and people, with a small imprint of other cultures that has settled there,” wrote one gamer. “I would be very disappointed if everywhere was evenly populated by all races. That’s not diversity. That’s bland and boring as hell.”
Apollodown responded by banning him and accused him of being a Trump supporter and a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
When another gamer told him to calm down and compared him to Annaliese Nielsen, the infamous social justice warrior who had a meltdown over a hula doll, the modder voiced his objections to their use of the terms “PC” and “SJW.” He described the terms, which refer to perpetually offended individuals, as “thinly veiled hate” and removed his mods from public display.
News of his actions spread to Reddit, where many gamers and fellow modders criticized and derided him for forcing politics into the video game. In response, he attempted to defend his actions by blowing out of proportion what “power” he has in response to the “cis-het-white-american-male privilege” he sees dominating the political climate.
“This behavior is unacceptable everywhere,” wrote Apollodown of all the mean people who disagree with him. “And certain political candidates have encouraged people to speak up with their hateful messages without fear of backlash. So I will use what little power I have to form what I believe to be an appropriate backlash.”
Apollodown is well within his rights to take down his creations, but there’s no reason to drag politics into everything. And Skyrim, for all that it’s worth, is hardly the place for it.