Nookazon, the popular trading website and community for Animal Crossing: New Horizons items, has been embroiled in controversy. The moderation team was accused of bias after they allegedly attempted to shut down uses for discussing Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the resurgence of discussion surrounding systemic racism. The site has now issued a formal apology for what they say was a major error in judgment.
2020, and of course 2021 and beyond, have been a major hub for an honest examination of the issues of race—particularly in America where police brutality runs rampant. And it’s pretty clear that gaming is not immune to these problems, nor should it be. Although it would appear that some people still wish for games to be a disconnected bubble from which the events of the world can’t influence ideas and discussion.
The controversy surrounding Nookazon broke when the moderators drew heavy fire for trying to implement a policy banning discussion of BLM or other political events on servers for the site. The backlash came pretty switfly, and critically pointed out the flaw in not discussing these issues. The idea seems sound on first glance, but civility has not stopped police in the US from killing nearly 1,000 people in the US in 2020 alone. Previous years show similar numbers if not higher. It’s time to stop trying to sweep criticism under the rug and confront this head on.
The team behind the site released an official statement clarifying that the organization does indeed support Black Lives Matter, adding that “our intention was not to remain complicit or silence views during this political climate — our team was unprepared for a response to current events of this magnitude, which led to excessive moderation.”
Other trading groups and servers, such as Nook.Market, has been much more open about their stances regarding BLM and similar issues. A rather open and realistic environment is what’s needed for people to be able to discuss these issues. So seeing some mods take the issue seriously and express support can be refreshing.
For what it’s worth, Nookazon has taken a much more proactive stance following the blowback. As an apology, Nookazon created a dedicated Discord channel to funnel these discussions to, to help avoid spam and clutter. The mod team also gathered around $500 in donations to various pro-BLM organizations.
At the very least, it seems as though the team has learned what they did wrong. “We are always happy to use the platform we have to amplify causes and voices we care about, no matter how uncomfortable the people who want to ignore them become,” a Nook.Market rep told Polygon when the news broke.