“Misgendering” a robot in the upcoming Borderlands 3 could get users banned from community

"Misgendering" a character in the game - a robot called FL4K - will have their account banned from the official platform, on the grounds of having violated hate speech rules.


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Ahead of its September 13 release, Borderlands 3 is certainly producing all sorts of buzz, hype, and publicity.

Only recently, the game’s publishers, 2K Games, got a YouTuber shut down after issuing a series of takedown notices against his videos for alleged intellectual property violations. Not only that, but they found out his real-world address and sent two private goons to his home to intimidate the creator.

This caused significant controversy, even to the point where some users threatened to boycott the long-anticipated release of Borderlands 3.

Now, the game’s developer, Gearbox, has decided to announce that those deliberately “misgendering” a character in the game – a robot called FL4K – will have their account banned from the forum, on the grounds of having violated hate speech rules.

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According to a mod on the Gearbox forum FL4K can only be referred to using the pronouns “they/them” – while “he/him” -and, presumably, “she/her” – will be considered violations worthy of a ban.

And the mod clarified that the character in question was written by a “nonbinary” person, who, therefore, had the right to dictate this type of policy.

Since Borderlands is a triple-A title that costs quite a bit of money, gamers got worried and started expressing it on Twitter that they might end up getting kicked out of the game because of using the wrong pronoun when describing a fictional robot.

They were told not to have no fear though, as –  according to Gearbox – they will somehow find a way to differentiate between deliberate and accidental use of the wrong pronoun and it’s only for the community forum, not the main game.

How will those behind the game sniff out a gamer’s true intention in this regard? Gearbox doesn’t explain, but does think that the promise to be able to tell intentional from accidental is enough to label any concern over the policy as a debate based on “incorrect information.”

But not everyone was unhappy with the decision. Others even went as far as accusing the developer of not having the courage to introduce an actual transgender character, and instead focusing their “binary acceptance” energy on – a robot.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]