Electronic Arts’ Star Wars: The Old Republic is the latest MMO (massive multiplayer online) video game to add an option for same-sex relationships, joining Dragon Age 2, Skyrim, Fable III, and other major releases with gay-friendly gameplay.
These MMOs are games that create immersive virtual environments in which millions of players can interact with computer-generated characters as well as characters created by fellow gamers. While this is [SWTOW game developer] BioWare’s first MMO, the developer is known among fans for the emphasis they place on romantic relationships between characters in their single-player role-playing games. In the past, BioWare games have featured same-sex relationships… and in the case of the immensely popular sci-fi game Mass Effect, relationships between [players and] an asexual alien.
Bioware had initially said Old Republic wouldn’t have a same-sex option, but a strong response from fans led the company to change its mind.
Because the game was so close to its 2011 holiday-season release date, gay and lesbian hookups won’t be immediately available.
“Due to the design constraints of a fully-voiced MMO of this scale and size, many choices had to be made as to the launch and post-launch feature set,” says BioWare online community manager Stephen Reid. “Same-gender romances with companion characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a post-launch feature…”
While many have greeted the news happily, in the more than 300 pages of comments on the SWOTR website there’s also been a stead flow of criticism from the expected corners.
“Bioware if this is your stand please allow us offended players to disable all romance content in this title,” posts lastrights. “Give us the option to keep our vision of the Star Wars Universe in tact. If you are going to entertain this type of content allow us not to be subjected to it in any way. Give us the option to completely disable it. Or allow us to permanently kill our companion characters [emphasis ours] so we don’t have to worry about these companions in your future expansions and storylines.”
Big Hollywood blogger John Nolte starts a poorly reasoned rant on the topic with, “Say goodbye to your child’s innocence.”
Um, if you idea of parenting is plopping your child in front of a gaming system and letting them join millions of strangers in beheading Siths and obliterating innocent planets, your kids probably lost their innocence a long time ago.
We’re not hardcore gamers, so we’ll let someone who is break it down:
“One thing that people are conveniently forgetting is that in most [BioWare] games there isn’t even a hint of romance unless you actively pursue it,” posts AJediKnight. “You have to go out of your way to talk to your companions—and frequently—while responding to certain cues in order to even unlock the option.”
The idea that some fruity dude is going to join your crew and just fling himself bodily onto you immediately is a fallacy.”
Actually we would buy the game just so we could do that to the haters. “Help me, Obi-Wan,” indeed.