‘Spider-Man’ Mod Scene Becomes Pride Flag Battlefield

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“Marvel’s Spider-Man,” the open-world web-slinging game originally released for PlayStation 4 in 2018, finally arrived on PC last week. Among those who make unofficial mods for games, this would normally be cause for celebration. Some, however, decided to rain on that parade aiming at a very specific target: the Pride flags.

In the world of PC gaming, where enterprising users can open games in ways that more restrictive consoles won’t, major releases are often accompanied by a host of mods. “Spider-Man” is no different. Modders have already swapped out Spider-Man’s appearance for that of Stan Lee, Uncle Ben’s tombstone, and other people, both real and fictional. He can also turn pigeons into pizza, if that, for some extremely specific reason, floats his boat. But the hundreds of options already available have been overshadowed by a battle for flags.

Within the sprawling “Spider-Man” recreation of Manhattan, one district contains a few pieces of Pride iconography, including flags and a mural. These proved popular when the game first came out on PS4, with LGBTQ gamers praising their inclusion at the time.

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Shortly after the game’s release on PC, a modder named Mike Hawk (you probably don’t try to say that out loud) released a mod called “Non-Newtownian New York.” According to its creator, the mod replaced “Newton’s Prism artifacts with the Stars and Stripes.” This was a roundabout way of saying that he turned the Pride flags into United States flags. As many have pointed out, “Spider-Man” already includes a plethora of US flags even without modification, and Spider-Man, given his habit of standing up for the downtrodden, has been frequently associated with progressive causes.

The original mod was only available for one day, but it racked up hundreds of downloads and numerous comments, many of them homophobic. Mod Nexus, the largest mod repository on the Internet, banned it and the user behind it, but imitators and copies appeared on Mod Nexus and similar sites like Mod DB, as well as the Internet Archive. Meanwhile, others have uploaded retaliation mods like “The Amazingly Valid Spider-Man,” which changes the colors of Spider-Man’s suit to match those of the trans flag and includes a link to support The Trevor Project, a group of support for LGBTQ youth.

In reaction to this, Mod Nexus director Robin “Dark0ne” Scott announced that mods that appear “deliberately” against diversity and inclusion are banned in all games. The same goes for mods that “deliberately try to troll other users with mods to cause a raise.”

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“Regarding the replacement of the Pride flags in this game, or any game, our policy is as follows: We are for inclusion, we are for diversity,” Scott wrote in a lengthy post on the subject. “For our part, we will strive to do a better job of moderating our website to this spirit ourselves.”

mod database said on Twitter which also removed anti-Pride mods and banned offending users, but added that its moderation is “largely automated,” meaning users often need to report mods like these before it takes action. Modifications to the Anti-Pride flag also remain available at the Internet Archive and other similar online repositories.

Users have subsequently turned to Mod Nexus to upload mods that include additional progressive flags, as well as ones that, coming full circle, swap the US flag with a Pride flag. The discussion sections of these pages have harbored numerous comments suggesting that removing US flags should now also be a prohibited offense, even as a group of historically oppressed people continue to see their rights threatened by new laws within the United States. USA

For his part, Scott remains firm in his decision.

“We do not want to and will not discuss this with you,” he wrote. “We have already explained our position and will not provide you with a platform to distort our position in order to feed an irrational and paranoid narrative. If this policy bothers you, if we have violated any moral code of conduct as a company that you cannot accept, please delete your account and move on, as we will.”

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