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The RuneScape Quest That Sparked Outrage

As one of the earliest MMORPGs to grace the internet, RuneScape has provided players with a ton of free content since 2001. The game's community is still thriving to this day, and the company behind the game, Jagex, has snagged a few world records for this feat alone. What the game lacks in graphics, it makes up for in a dedicated player base and a solid company that's always churning out new content.


But it's not always rainbows and sunshines for RuneScape. As the world and opinions on certain issues have changed over time, Jagex has evolved alongside society. This was reflected in the development of certain events or quests in RuneScape that were related to the LGBTQ community. The first of these instances involved an NPC named Armadyl who sparked some outrage and confusion when players learned he was gay. This trend didn't get any better when Jagax decided to celebrate the LGBTQ community with a quest — something that many players didn't take too kindly to.

A rainbow accessory sent players into a fury

In honor of Pride Month in 2017, RuneScape developers created an event to promote LGBTQ inclusivity. The event had a quest known as "Gilbert's Colours" which involved players fetching six strands of colors for an NPC named Gilbert to create a rainbow scarf. Upon completing the quest, Gilbert would reward the player with the scarf, allowing them to equip it on their character. 


While this quest was made in support of the LGBTQ community, it got a ton of backlash from the RuneScape player base. Many felt that the Jagex's attempt to celebrate inclusivity had no place in RuneScape and branded the event as political propaganda. In fact, this rainbow scarf quest sparked so much outrage that a handful of members in the community got together to try and hold an in-game anti-LGBTQ rally. This rally ended turning into a virtual riot where players dressed their characters to resemble KKK members and continuously spouted homophobic slurs in the chat.

Jagex stood firm on its stance

Although the event got a ton of hate from various members in the community, the developers behind the scenes were overall proud of they made. During an interview with Vice, Matthew Kemp, Jagex's senior product manager, and Neil McClarty, the company's vice president of publishing, both spoke on this issue. Initially, they hadn't expected to see such an out-pour of anger and hate, considering the company had also done similar events to promote organizations like the YMCA and the World Wildlife Fund.


"The way we see it, the Old School RuneScape community is this big, inclusive community of wonderful people and we just wanted to spread more love and support for our LGBT community," Kemp said. "There is a lot of unfortunate noise right now, which I'd rather not have, but everyone at Jagex is behind it and the vast majority of players will be behind it."

Even though the event wasn't received as well as they would've liked, the developers have no regrets. "The backlash shows that there's more that needs to be done for LGBT equality, and we're kind of happy to play a tiny part in that," McClarty said.