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A player in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV received disciplinary measures for having the username “Free Palestine.” The user was placed into a digital jail cell by a game master who explained to them that their username violated the terms of service and had to be changed.
In Final Fantasy XIV, players who violate the terms of service are transported to an actual digital jail within the game by a game master. In this “GM Jail,” players are told the reason they are facing consequences by a game master, and then released when they deem the issue resolved.
i got thrown into FINAL FANTASY JAIL for calling myself "Free Palestine"!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/weob97hkWb— arrested (@rescueferret) August 7, 2019
This exact situation happened with Twitter user @rescueferret when their username within the game—Free Palestine—was deemed inappropriate by a game master known as Koyoboril. An official warning was cited against @rescueferret’s Square-Enix account (the publisher of Final Fantasy XIV), and Free Palestine was forced to pick an entirely new username. “When choosing a new character name, please make sure that it is not offensive doesn’t breach our Terms of Service. We may have to issue another penalty otherwise,” Koyoboril wrote.
The player then attempted to change their name to Eltnum JAV, a reference to a Japanese Adult Video that has become somewhat of a meme because the video stars a cosplayer dressed as the character Eltnum from the fighting game franchise Under Night In-Birth. The game master deemed this name inappropriate as well and would not allow @rescueferret to return to the normal game world. Eventually, @rescueferret chose the title of Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 album “unmastered untitled” as their new name which seemed to fit the game master’s criteria.
hopefully the gm liked my new name, love that album pic.twitter.com/1zUtkwEgGL— arrested (@rescueferret) August 7, 2019
@rescueferret took the whole incident in stride, commenting, “this owns to a degree that is unimaginable.” But, this moment does speak to a larger issue. This instance is not the first time that gaming and Palestinian rights have converged. Top Super Smash Bros. Melee player Anees “Free Palestine” Assaf regularly enters tournaments under the tag “Free Palestine” and even frequently appears on stream for these events. Assaf’s pinned tweet on Twitter links to a longer post, where he explains the significance of his tag and outlines the history of Israel’s crimes of apartheid and occupation on Palestine. While by no means an endorsement, by officially stating that the name “Free Palestine” violates the terms of service for Final Fantasy XIV, Square-Enix in a roundabout way could be interpreted as viewing Israel as a legitimate state and denying that right to Palestine.
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Ignacio Martinez is a reporter specializing in online gaming and political communities. His work has previously appeared in the Texas Observer and on the airwaves at KVRX 91.7 FM. He is based in Austin, Texas, and you can follow him on Twitter at @NacioMartinez.