As Kotaku reports, the streamer, SGX, had a history of this sort of play.
“Erasing a base in No Man’s Sky is pretty easy to do. Each planet can only have a certain number of bases that are visible to other players. In many communities, it’s considered polite not to claim a base on a planet that has other bases on it already. What SGX did was go to planets in civilized space, meaning communities like Cafe 42 or the Galactic Hub, travel to places where he knew player-made bases existed, and claim bases at the same site, effectively destroying them. He’s also left some rude comments in his wake, all in keeping with his evil overlord persona. In one stream, he re-words a comment a couple of times because the profanity filter won’t let him submit his desired message: “I pissed at your door.”
After destroying one such base, owned by a civilization leader named Lillihop, SGX made misogynistic comments online as other players tweeted his actions were basically “amateur hour.”
The incident is causing gamers to reflect on the nature of roleplaying bad guys in online spaces. Most MMORPG players understand that consent in the roleplay community is a big deal. It’s one thing to /hug your friend when just chatting, but it’s handled differently when people are roleplaying in games.
And while some might argue griefing is built into the mechanics of the game, the issue is that this was no PvP battle; it’s an exploit of the game’s design flaws, and it certainly isn’t PvP in the spirit of actual roleplay. It’s one thing to play the bad guy, but it’s another to simply grief. There was no battle, no way for the community to reasonably defend itself, and from an RP perspective, there was no consent. In fact, Lillihop mentions that the community is intentionally neutral. No matter how “evil” an RPer may be, people who declare neutrality and do not engage in combat are off limits. I’ve seen some of the worst gaming communities in the ’90s and early ’00s respect this.
Hopefully, Hello Games will address how erasures happen in the future. While there’s potential for this to occur by accident, it’s clearly being abused. One thing’s for sure: For a game that didn’t even originally launch with multiplayer, the current version of No Man’s Sky has all the problems of a bona fide MMORPG.