As expected, Nintendo is moving to delete what it deems inappropriate user-generated Super Smash Bros. Ultimate levels after the stage creator feature went live earlier this week.
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Most of the content currently being hauled offline is as you’d expect – soon after the stage creator feature went live, many stages featuring Swastikas and other racist and offensive imagery were uploaded.
There were also many, many penis stages, some of which ended up on the front page of the official Nintendo Switch app, as Eurogamer reported.
For that story, Eurogamer social media whizz Paul Watson commandeered the Nintendo Switch belonging to Gamer Network tech supremo Thomas Marchant to create a stage inspired by the “Double Dick Dude” from reddit.
Now, Marchant has seen the level pulled from the game, and he received a strongly-worded email from Nintendo warning against the use of “obscene and/or sexual expressions”.
But some of Nintendo’s moderation decisions have courted a good deal of controversy. It appears stages either titled “Trans Rights” or featuring the trans flag run the risk of deletion – and in some cases their creators were issued short-term bans.
Twitter user Warm Safflina received an email from Nintendo notifying her that her trans rights stage had been pulled offline for “inappropriate and/or harmful content”.
She said a Nintendo customer support rep later explained the level was removed because it was considered a “political statement”, and revealed her account was suspended for nine hours.
Nintendo has come under fire for this takedown, with many pointing out the “trans rights” message should not be considered a political statement, although based on the company’s stubborn protectiveness of its family-friendly brand, perhaps it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
But Nintendo’s moderation policy appears to be scattershot at best. While Warm Safflina’s stage was deleted, many other stages featuring the trans flag remain available to download and play. Marchant has had a look at Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this morning, and reports a search for “trans” returns between 70 and 80 trans rights stages still online.
Meanwhile, Nintendo’s cleanup of the created stages available to download for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may be a battle it can never win.
“I searched ‘dick’ and there are some but it looks like they’ve been removing them,” Marchant added, “but I could still see the one tied to my account and was able to re-download it. Didn’t find any for Nazi/Swastika type stuff. There was one of two people having sex on the main screen. I went back to the home screen and found a Ugandan Knuckles and Pepe as well. There’s more appearing all the time it seems, and they’re not all new or anything.”
Perhaps Nintendo is struggling to keep up with the mammoth moderation task it faces with the hugely popular Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Or, perhaps Nintendo hasn’t yet issued its moderators a clear policy on trans rights levels, so we’re getting decisions that seem out of place.
For now, what we do know is uploading Super Smash Bros. Ultimate stages with obviously offensive content could get you in trouble with Nintendo. You have been warned.