In recent news, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council has taken a vehement and vitriolic stand against impending changes that will see same sex relationships introduced into Star Wars: The Old Republic, issuing the following radio statement
"In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists! Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. In a galaxy not so far far away, Star Wars gamers have already gone to the dark side. The new video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, has added a special feature: gay relationships. Bioware, the company that developed the game, said it's launching a same-sex romance component to satisfy some complaints. That surprised a lot of gamers, since Bioware had made it clear in 2009 that "gay" and "lesbian" don't exist in the Star Wars universe. Since the announcement, homosexuals have been celebrating the news, but parents sure aren't. On the game's website, there are more than 300 pages of comments--a lot of them expressing anger that their kids will be exposed to this Star Warped way of thinking. You can join them by logging on and speaking up. It's time to show companies who the Force is really with!"
Stirring the pot:
While Mr Perkins alludes to over three hundred comments on the games website, which do not exist, the community itself seemingly has no problem with the news. Tony is no stranger to controversy himself, having stated in the past that paedophilia is a homosexual problem
, and even going so far as to argue
that the rising rate of youth suicides come from LGBT adolescents who know they are abnormal. It would also be fair to point out that the Southern Poverty Law Centre recognizes the Family Research Council as an official hate group, so make of his comments what you will.
The discussion around homosexuality and SWTOR first came to light in 2009,
when it was noticed that posts in the forums featuring the words gay, lesbian or homosexual were censored, the posts themselves sometimes deleted. Community Manager Sen Dahlberg simply stated that those terms simply don’t exist in the Star Wars canon.
It was always a feature:
Contrary to Mr. Perkins statements, the features are not live, and there hasn’t been a timeframe given for it either. The fact that it will be a future implementation, and not a feature currently available, is more to do with logistics than activism. An official statement
on the Bioware forums cites the design constraints of an MMO of SWTOR's scale, and same sex companion choices will be a future feature implementation. Although the statement makes no illusions how those portrayals will be termed, it does give the impression that it was an established design choice. Bioware has created discussion in the past regarding its portrayals of sexuality and relationships in their titles. A few eyebrows were raised recently by the news
that the upcoming title Mass Effect 3 will feature same sex love interests for both male and female characters, a first for the series.
It is worthwhile to point out that currently in SWTOR, any heterosexual scenes between a player and a companion cuts to a black screen. Furthermore, the game currently enjoys a Pegi 16
rating in the UK, and holds a Teen advisory notice
that clearly indicates sexual themes as part of the games content. I would find it hard to believe that any teenager would not have been exposed to same sex relationships by the time they get around to seeing a pixelated Old Republic representation of it.
Douglas Stewart is a staff writer at iQU. When he is not writing, he devours books, plays an excessive amount of games, and is working on his upcoming fiction novel that (naturally) involves intersections between technology, gaming and society. Follow Douglas @TheGearCog