Daily Reaction: BioWare Set to Segregate Gays in Star Wars, Outrages Homosexuals and Homophobes

January 16, 2013Written by Dan Oravasaari

This is not what it would be like

In the virtual world we are set with few rules and regulations to abide by, our imaginations are taken to cities around the world, planets across the galaxy, and worlds beyond our own. But, when we begin to interact with other characters or people, our real world personal values can conflict with those of the virtual one. With that, the Daily Reaction crew of Sebastian Moss and Dan Oravasaari discuss the continuing controversy of same gender relationships in video games.

Dan: It is an interesting concept that people are more concerned with the possibility that characters in their virtual environment can be in a relationship with someone of the same gender, than they are of the ability to kill other virtual characters. BioWare has been one of the leading studios pushing the ability for a virtual world to be constructed by each player’s own decisions this generation and, with that, they have given players the option to choose who to be in a relationship with. This concept has opened up an interesting problem, as controversies in the real world are now starting to spill into the virtual one with the inclusion of same gender relationships (SGR). Now, BioWare is under fire again as they plan to bring the ability to have a SGR on their latest MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic. Releasing with their next paid expansion, The Rise of the Hutt Cartel, players will be able to have a union with characters of the same gender, but only on a specific planet.

Not only has their decision to include SGRs in a Star Wars title caused some fans to raise their arms against the addition, but also the limiting of the relationships to a single paid only planet has caused proponents of the addition to feel like their are getting the short end. Given the heat from both sides of the spectrum, BioWare has said:

Secondly, I want to reveal today that we are adding SGR with some NPCs on Makeb and do intend on pursuing more SGR options in the future. More details to come!

But the details surrounding the statement are still vague, so whether or not the “more SGR options” means that more planets will be added, or if there are only a limited types of races currently available, remains to be seen. Yet, whatever BioWare decides to do, they will never be able to make everyone happy.

I find it almost comical that in a world where fish people pilot outer space ships, boo-boo bear wears a hoodie with a spear, and a brother kisses his sister, that people are pissed off that people will be able to date their own gender. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I understand how passionate fans can get about their lore, but given the amount of expanded universe that has been added to the franchise, this is almost laughable to mad at. Yet, on the other side of the coin, are the people who seem to get irate over the concept of homosexuality, and want nothing to do with it. To those people, I say grow up, especially those who try to play a MMO and feel their opinion needs to be the end all of the galaxy. As we have stated before, opinions are great, but just because you have one, does not give you the right to feel entitled.

Seb: This whole thing is just depressing – BioWare’s choice to segregate single gender relationships to one world and how a strong homophobic gaming community has come up in arms over the thought of two lightsabers touching.

In the past, BioWare led the charge for fair representation of a significant proportion of society. Then they released Mass Effect 3 and something despicable happened – anti-gay players took to Metacritic and forced the user score down, although thankfully their pathetic protest was buried under other people voting it down because of ‘that ending’,

Now, BioWare has decided to limit SGRs to a single pay-for-gay planet, possibly out of fear of the very vocal homophobes (BW have said that they are “neutral”), or perhaps due to poor development planning. Either way, it sends a clear message – if you’re gay, or just like to experiment online, then you’re separate, and not equal. It’s like they’ve designed a space brothel, a pay-to-enter den of sin, where the bad things happen. ‘Weird stuff happens here, don’t go to this evil planet’.

While we’re at it, why don’t we make a planet where characters are able to change their skin tone from “whitish pink” to something else? Let’s just make the galaxy Stormtrooper-white, because we don’t want to offend any racists.

This industry is treated as the mentally challenged step-child of the entertainment industry. “Oh yeah, they’re just kids, playing with toy guns and being stupid”. “They’re immature, sexist, racist and homophobic” pundits cry, using it to legitimize their belittlement of the industry that has only served to raise questions of censorship and given us worse tax breaks than the film industry. And, in many ways, they’re right. Gamers and developers need to act like adults.

It’s 2013, not the 60s, video games are a newish media form, accepted by a more open-minded populace, yet we let the homophobes and racists represent us. That needs to stop, developers need to take a stand. SGRs should be more accepted, more common, all protagonists shouldn’t be shaved white dudes, female developers shouldn’t be paid less.

It’s time to make a change.

Do you really care if there are SGR options in your games? If you did not know it was an option, would you care? Let us know in the comments below in a tasteful manner what you think of this whole mess, or tweet congrats to Seb and Dan as they move to Makeb.

Be sure to email DR ideas, podcast comments and love letters to [email protected].