UPDATE: RomHacking.Net has replied to our inquiry and has said that the person who turned down the Pokepan Crystal ROM hack has been released from the submissions team, and that they will be vigilant about coordinating better submissions team members in the future. They also claim they will, as an olive branch, highlight LGBTQ creations on their site and will “stand with LGBTQ communities on this matter.” They even specifically said that dosmeow should re-submit their hack. Here is their full statement.

As a group, we are terribly embarrassed and apologetic for the actions and words from one of our submission reviewers. This reviewer has been suspended indefinitely. Our volunteer part-time staff members around the globe are often unable to make timely coordinated group decisions. Individual latitude is often taken as a result to keep the ball rolling with hundreds of submissions per month. Contacting us on the website (Help->Contact Staff) is important to both alerting us of problems like this and in resolving them. We do not have website submission support over social media outlets. We acknowledge the mistakes made here and will strive to do better.

Lets make things right. We’re truly sorry that this happened. ROMhacking.net stands WITH LGBTQ+/SAGA communities on this matter. We’ve carried such hacks since our first year in 2006 with Celes + Terra (https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/46/)! Let’s make this a call to gather up all the other completed LGBTQ+/SAGA themed hacks we can and proudly display them on ROMhacking.net! dosmeow can resubmit their hack and we would love to host any others! We will support you!

ROMhacking.net Staff

The original article follows.

ROM hacking is a wonderful aspect of the gaming world, where fans can edit games to fit their needs or desires. Want to play Super Mario World with a higher level of difficulty? You’ve got it! Want to play a game only released in other regions? If there’s a translation pack, you can without learning a new language! There’s freedom in ROM hacking, letting you paint on the canvas of a game without having to spend the extra time and money to create a brand new game from scratch. However, the bastion of ROM hack hosting, RomHacking.Net, has shown its bigoted side, blocking a user from uploading their Pokemon Crystal ROM hack onto the site in fear of “attracting attention from SJWs.”

Twitter user @dosmeow, who also runs a ZZT preservation site, attempted to publish a ROM hack called “Pokepan Crystal,” which would allow players to use the Pokemon move “Attract” on any Pokemon, regardless of its gender. In the original release, “Attract” only works on Pokemon of the opposite gender to the user, and cannot be used on Pokemon with no assigned gender. This hack just allows the move to be used on any and all Pokemon, editing one single move in the entire game that most players don’t even use.

Pokemon is hardly a game about romance, but does include plenty of heterosexual content which nobody thinks twice about,” dosmeow said in a Twitter DM. “Breeding Pokemon, NPCs like Prof. Kukui and his wife Prof. Burnet, ‘Attract,’ the ‘Love Ball,’  Lusamine and Mohn, and plenty of generic nameless families of trainers. Meanwhile LGBT fans are required to dig up obscure lines about Black Belts and requiring a very deep knowledge of the series to maybe carve out a piece of acknowledgement that people like themselves exist in this world.”

RomHacking.Net is generally considered the end-all-be-all for uploading ROM hacks to the Internet. dosmeow was able to host their hack on Itch, so it is available if so desired, but the fact still stands that the largest ROM hacking site on the web thinks that a simple hack such as this would “draw too much attention from SJWs” and would seemingly block other LGBTQ focused hacks. While it is correct that the hack is a political statement, RomHacking.Net has also made a statement in denying it: That they do not support LGBTQ people and would rather they stay off their site. The owners of RomHacking.Net have a bad reputation online, according to both dosmeow and twitter user kataetheweirdo, who also spoke briefly about the site. katae did point out that RomHacking.Net has also removed “purposely edgey” hacks from the site, such as offensive hacks made purely to offend. Those hacks still exist in fringe communities elsewhere, but RomHacking.Net, whether they truly want to or not, are still siding with bigotry by refusing to post empowering ROM hacks on their site.

“Pokepan Crystal’ is far more of a statement than a game,” dosmeow continued. “I didn’t make it expecting myself or anyone else to actually play through the game that is identical in every way except the behavior of a single move that’s almost never going to be encountered, and a lot of players probably never bothered to use to begin with. (Granted, it’s far more worthwhile to use now. The hack is definitely a buff.) It’s meant to offer a look at what the game could have been just as easily.”

ROM hacking is something that should still exist, not just for difficulty patches and fan translations, but for fans to insert themselves and people like them into games where they may normally not be seen. Pokemon should have LGBTQ people in the base game, and that is a problem fans should bring up to Nintendo. Until then, ROM hacking should not be censored and fans should be able to enjoy themselves however they want. We can only hope a better host for ROM hacks appears and allows more creators to experiment with the games we love without having to deal with bigotry.

About John

John Michonski is Gamesline’s Editor in Chief. He’s a fun man who likes to do good.

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