Paradox removes Stellaris mod which turned all human characters white

May 24, 2016 by Kris Ligman

'Racial slurs, among other things, are not allowed,' says Paradox chief operating officer Suzana Meza Graham.

So, two things being given as true -- that people will make mods for PC games, and that some of the modders are bound to be awful human beings -- it should surprise absolutely no one that there is a mod to turn all the human non-player characters white in space strategy game Stellaris. The modder isn't the least bit coy about what they're doing, either: it's titled "European Phenotype and Names Only (White Humans)" and earlier today, developer-publisher Paradox Interactive wasted no time in shutting it down.

"We have a few rules of conduct that have been in effect for the better part of a decade where racial slurs, among other things, are not allowed," Paradox's COO Suzanna Meza Graham said on social media following the takedown. "We interpreted this particular mod as breaking those rules of conduct, however it would appear that the comments surrounding the mod, rather than the mod itself, were the biggest problem."

Before you race to the comments section to say something about free speech, remember that federal mandates affecting the U.S. government don't apply to private businesses. This mod was uploaded to Stellaris's Steam Workshop, which is hosted by Valve and overseen by Paradox itself -- and Paradox is fully within its right to deem some material incendiary or inappropriate. You're allowed to criticize Paradox's policies, of course, but nobody's rights are being infringed upon here. (Also, hate speech isn't protected speech.)

"We welcome everyone to create all kind of mods for us as long as they comply with our rules of conduct," Graham's statement continues, "and we expect our modders to help us keep the comment sections free of any racial slurs or other things that do not comply with these same codes." She ends by linking to Paradox's rules of conduct, section 6 of which explicitly delineates what the company finds inappropriate material:

6. You may not post or message any illegal content, or links to illegal content. You may not post or message any material, or links to such material, which
i) Depicts Nazi symbols or Nazi propaganda;
ii) Is pornographic, sexually offensive or otherwise unsuitable for family or office environment (NSFW);
iii) Constitute an infringement of intellectual property rights; or
iv) Discuss the distribution/growing/cutting/manufacture of drugs.

I'm not sure whether Paradox is also shutting down mods that let Stellaris players cultivate planet-sized marijuana plantations or whatever, but it sounds like it would be free to do that too, if it wanted.

If you really, really want to turn all your Stellaris humans white for whatever reason, you're still able to download the "European Phenotype" mod on third party site ModDB. Just don't come and tell me about it.

(h/t Eurogamer.)