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Battletech community ousts Reddit mods after Pride Month zine bigotry

Catalyst Game Labs steps in to create a new, official subreddit.

Image credit: Catalyst Game Labs

Moderators within the Battletech Reddit community have been ousted for their bigoted reaction to a Pride Month zine of queer fanfiction based on the science fiction miniature skirmish game. Publisher Catalyst Game Labs stepped in to create a new, official forum before a long-dormant founder of the original subreddit returned to effectively clean shop.

Members of r/battletech accused the moderation team of power abuse and blatant bigotry on June 3rd after several posts highlighting the Battletech Pride Anthology fanzine were deleted or otherwise removed without warning, according to an editor of the project who spoke to Dicebreaker via email.

When pressed for explanation, moderator u/Mr_Severan cited a rule that referenced not allowing posts that discuss “the Real World, politics, or current events in this subreddit,” according to a now-deleted post. The moderator further said that the team uses the year 1988 as a measure of relevance, and since “Pride month is a relatively recent thing in modern history (1999), it runs afoul of that 1988 statement as well.” They also raised an issue with real-world flags depicted on both fan art and painted models.

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It did not escape the notice of either users or the zine’s creators that contemporary Pride events have existed since at least 1969, commemorating the Stonewall rebellion amongst New York City’s gay community following a police raid on the eponymous Stonewall Inn. The original rainbow Pride flag entered public use during the 1970s.

Users pointed out that Catalyst Game Labs had promoted the zine on its official Facebook page and that frequent freelance writer Russell Zimmerman was included in the contributor list. Despite this, the moderators apparently claimed they would continue to review the rules before setting r/battletech to private and invite-only sometime later, effectively limiting who could access the forum.

On the same day, the community and marketing director for Catalyst Game Lab, Rem Alternis, posted to the newly created r/officialbattletech forum and said that Zimmerman had been tapped to carve out a space on Reddit that could be maintained by the community but would enjoy the publisher’s active cooperation. Catalyst Game Lab will reportedly develop community guidelines matching their other social media channels that the subreddit will need to abide by, but intuited that ‘no real-world politics’ would not be part of that standard.

Battletech recently launched its Mercenaries Kickstarter campaign, which earned $7.5 million. | Image credit: Catalyst Game Labs

“The need for a safe space on reddit was brought to my attention today,” Alternis wrote late Saturday. “While reddit was far down on my list to get to, I feel that our community had an urgent need for our presence, and our support. Let me be clear: BattleTech is for EVERYONE.”

When the original r/Battletech reopened its doors, users discovered a post from lead moderator u/Insaniac offering a compromise: LGBTQ+ posts would be allowed only where they received direct support from Catalyst Game Labs “as something of note”. The resulting outcry brought the subreddit’s original creator, u/ddevil63, out of inactivity to, as the zine’s editor put it, “nuke the whole mod team.” In a post titled ‘Battletech is for everybody’, the person who created the space 15 years prior laid out their intent.

“Hello /r/battletech community. I originally created r/battletech 15 years ago because I wanted a place to talk about Battletech on Reddit. I have not been active as a moderator or contributor but I regularly read posts and comments. Yesterday was when I became aware of the removal of the Pride Anthology post and the rightfully deserved backlash. I have no moderation or community management experience but I'm trying my best to right any wrongs,” u/ddevil63 wrote.

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“Effective immediately, Rule #1 of r/battletech mirrors Rule #1 of r/OfficialBattletech, 'BATTLETECH IS FOR EVERYBODY'. The previous rule, 'All posts must be Battletech related', and its 1988 stipulation has been removed. The current moderation team has been removed. I ask that you please be respectful to them. I sincerely hope they remain a part of this community.”

The Battletech Pride Anthology is available to download for free on Itch.io, and includes stories by Robin Briseño, Albert Ross, Allen Nickloy, Milla Koponen and Russell Zimmerman. Interior and cover art was provided by Samantha Richardson and Jordan Bowlby. A foreword contains words from storied Battletech author Michael A. Stackpole, along with current author Bryan Young.

Dicebreaker has reached out to Catalyst Game Labs for comment but did not hear back prior to publication.

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Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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