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Star Wars: The Old, Old Republic

In 2009 there was a kerfuffle on the Star Wars: The Old Republic message boards when one board member pointed out that auto-filtering the terms gay and lesbian was not conducive to making those people feel welcome. That problem has been encountered a few times across various gaming online portals, message boards, and profiles. A moderator stepped in, closed that thread, and stated, "As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed."

It was later reopened with an apology from BioWare. Since then we've had the Dragon Age series, confirmation of the third Mass Effect game allowing male-on-male romance (female-on-female was possible beforehand, though that is up for debate with some), and just recently we've had it confirmed that there will be no such romances in their upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic, which will in fact feature a bit of romance, as it plans on being slightly more story-heavy in personal decision making. Thank you to both @Limeadesage and @SoulstitchMMO for bringing this to my attention.

Sources?

First there is the video from BioWare Pulse that was recorded this past week, which served as an interview with producer Cory Butler:

Around the 3:00 mark starts the following question posed by a user on Twitter, as asked by Deeka Macdonald, "Same-gender romance in/out, or not decided yet in Star Wars: The Old Republic?" The response is, "Same-gender romances are not in Star Wars: The Old Republic." Topic shifted.

Further, in the message boards, Senior Community Manager Allison Berryman explicates a bit more, stating:

We understand that this topic is one that's very important to many of our community members, and we appreciate everyone posting their feedback. At this time, there are no same gender romance options available in the game, as was mentioned in the interview linked earlier. We know you're interested to hear more on this subject, and we will provide more information as soon as we are able. Thank you for your patience and for helping keep this thread on-topic and appropriate for the forums.

Since then the thread has moved. Twice. Three times, so far. This is apparently done when a thread gets too large, which is an indication of this topic's ability to get people talking. However, I have yet to see an explanation or reasoning behind this decision.

Considering this is licensed, I have seen bandied about that Lucas Arts is the one making this decision. Or those evil, fingers-drumming-together corporate types at EA (oh stereotypes). Or maybe they were just afraid of a higher rating on the game. Or, or, or.

As yet, there is no explanation forthcoming, and I doubt there's any one particular decision-maker calling this shot. After all, there is a bit of a history with Juhani in the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game, who was first meant to be a lesbian, but due to glitches became bisexual in earlier versions of the game. Therefore, this all does seem a bit odd. There is precedent, and while 'gay' and 'lesbian' may not be understood in the same way in the old, old Republic, it does seem that same-sex romances are in fact quite possible. I'm also quite sure people better versed in the history of the franchise could mention one or two other instances.

I suppose at this point there will be conjecture until we get an official response. At which point there will likely be more conjecture anyway.

28 Comments

Rob said:

Unless they band gay people, a server will be gay so gay characters will exists.

SealedSun said:

Another reason not to like the Star Wars universe. Lucas wants it to be homosexuality-free -_-

Seymour2012 said:

Don't blame Lucas.

He donated to the fight for Gay Marriage in California and has donated huge sums of money to the Democratic party.

Keadin said:

@SealedSun: That's not true. George Lucas has to approve everything that relates to Star Wars, and he has approved works of fiction in the Expanded Universe that involve homosexuality.

That's ignoring the fact that both Lucasfilm and Lucas himself donated tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign against Prop 8.

Mark said:

Thanks for giving this issue some attention! I'm sure most fans of Bioware games are hoping that with a little bad press, Bioware will realize they're making a mistake here and do the right thing in time for launch.

Especially in a game where you're potentially playing the same character for years, I really have no interested in being forced to make my character be straight if I want to experience the romance parts of the storyline.

MikeB said:

When I first saw that interview I cancelled my preorder immediately. One of the main reasons I play Bioware games is due to the equal and non-biased atmosphere of their universes and stories.

Can't see buying the game until they provide some kind of same gender romance arcs, even if I'm not even going to play them.

Nexus said:

Yeah, same here.
Not going to get it unless they add same-sex romance options.
There is no conceivable good reason for them not to add them.

I'll be looking to GW2 for my MMORPG needs instead, thank you very much.

Elikal said:

We need to make a strong statement here. As much as it made my heart bleed, because I loved the game, I canceled my preorder and I will boycott the game.

Ray said:

There is no reason why same-gender romances couldn't be implemented. Bioware has been especially thoughtful about this in the past, and in an MMO RPG where your character represents you in a digital social environment, it's almost careless not to include them. Having said that, however, it's not going to make me cancel my preorder, nor stop me from playing. Not every game needs that content to be a good game.

Craig said:

I am stunned that there are gay people who are going to play this game. I have played every game Bioware has ever released and will never play any of their games again because of this decision.
They have decided that it would be better to have a universe where gay people don't exist. How wonderfully nazi-esque.
I pre-ordered the CE version and will be cancelling.

Aridian said:

This won't stop me from playing the game.

Bioware has repeatedly been on the forefront of including same-sex content in mainstream games, and because of that perhaps hold them to a different standard. We get hurt when they don't continue to push for us, thinking that somehow it has become their responsibility to push our ideals for us. Is it really fair to abandon them when they release a game that doesn't cater specifically to us?

We congratulate straight gamers for being able to enjoy same-sex game content. An article about that appeared on this site just this past week. I'm not sure it's reasonable to insist that straight people can enjoy gay content of games like Dragon Age while also insisting that gay content be included for us in every game. It seems like a double standard.

I appreciate what Bioware has done and will continue to buy their products. I don't think that's unreasonable or stunning. It's backing up a friend who has backed us up in the past.

Limeade said:

Thank you very much, GG.net and Vorpal, for writing up the article. I am very happy to see the issue and subject matter outlined and framed the way it is, to give context and history (Juhani, the kerfluffle of 'no gays in Star Wars' forum stuff, etc# along with this story.

Upon hearing the video interview and Allison's response, my husband and I immediately cancelled my preorder for the game.

I am not going to go around calling LA or BW homophobes, or paint them as some kind of crazed nazis, because BW has done plenty of same-sex content in their past and particularly in the recent past. David Gaider, lead writer for the DA franchise, has even come out and said some very poignant things about privilege.

But what does this say in particular about Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO? That it is not inclusive or has the depth to be inclusive, even when there ARE gay and lesbian character in the Star Wars universe #Juhani, Goran Beviin and his MARRIED husband Medrit, etc#. So the Star Wars universe IS expansive enough to accomodate non-heterosexual people, the problem is that this games... does not. That is the core issue, here. For an MMO that is so focused on story, player-driven choices, companions, romances, and has TWO classes #the Imperial Agent and the Smuggler# that are described as relying on a lot of special social aspects to their character in dialogues and in their stories, it paints a very limiting scope of a very heteronormative world. A world of privilege. And that's where it is problematic in representation #or the lack thereof#.

Especially in an MMO space, where you are supposed to be given the freedom and the outlet to be characters you want to be, to play stories you want to play, and stick with those characters for a *subscription fee* over years, then we definitely should be afforded the same opportunities and options that other players are able to partake in. Otherwise, we are paying for a product that is excluding content and acknowledgement and outlets for roleplaying our characters how we wish that other people have at their disposal. It would be the same as if there were no choice to be female, asian, or black in the game. Why include any of these things? Because it is about making your own character, and creating the story you want to see. And that's the emphasis TOR has marketed itself on.

Every class has unique companions to travel with. Five for each of the eight classes. Even if two #one male hetero, one female hetero# of the five are romanceable, that is still a whopping SIXTEEN heterosexual romances in total. At LEAST. And not even one or two of those could have been bisexual romanceable characters?

Why do I want to play in a world where only heteronormative couples represent the landscape of characters, and romance content? A world that excludes me and my stories I want to roleplay, but caters in spades to others instead? BioWare are in charge of their own content and their own stories and their own characters. They are the ones that brought romance and seduction/persuasion/flirting into the mix of the MMO storyscape. But only through the world of the majority, a heteronormative world. It is justified to feel excluded and omitted and purposely left out because of that.

So, no. No, thanks, TOR.

Nexus said:

Just because it's been brought up, while I won't be getting SW:TOR, I'm still going to keep playing Bioware games.
It is my belief that the fault for this probably lies with the team responsible for the game more than anything else (much like with ME previously).
Sure you could fault Bioware for keep using these individual homophobic teams, but I don't know enough of the industry to say how easy it would be for them to switch to diferent production teams.
I think these sweeping statement about never again playing games from a certain company are a bit over-the-top and I'm highly suspect of anyone who makes them.
Especially when said company has just as many gay-inclusive games as gay-exclusive.

Craig said:

Nexus,
I suspect you are referring to me when you say that you are suspect of anyone who states they will never play bioware games again.
Baldur's Gate 2 was the reason I started playing video games. Up until today I was Bioware's biggest fan. I have every Bioware game, I even where ME and DA t-shirts a few times a week. I have loved everything they have ever made. I have defended them from critics on sites such as Gamebanshee.
The way Bioware has handled this has been extremely dishonest. This became an issue two years ago. They buried the issue while letting their gay fans believe that they were reconsidering this decision.
Bioware are liars. They lied about reconsidering gay romances for ME2. I'm sure they will try to do damage control with more lies. DO NOT believe anything bioware says.

Ray said:

I'm almost sickened as to how big a deal some of you are making this. Do you even know how much effort goes into making a game? Especially one as massive as this? You may think adding same-sex romance options is something trivial and easy, but it takes a LOT of work. Writing the characters, for one. They have to make sure they do it right and don't insult anyone (cuz clearly everyone gets insulted pretty easily). They also have to make sure the same-sex option fits together smoothly with the rest of the story. It can be something as simple as using the wrong gender pronoun, which happened in DA:O occasionally. Imagining the programming involved in something as huge as an MMO would give me nightmares.

Personally, I think it's rather arrogant of anyone to assume that Bioware MUST cater to their individual game preferences. They are telling the story, and it's their story to tell. They have been the leaders in the industry when it comes to providing gay content in their games, and while that may have set up high expectations, it doesn't mean we should bash them and swear them off forever just because they don't put that enormous effort into one of their games.

Shame on you. I'm embarrassed to be a part of this community if that's the way we treat our most loyal developers.

LINCARD1000 said:

Hear, hear, Ray... Not going to get this game simply because I am not a fan of and do not play MMO's. But to slap a developer who has (and continues to be) proactively supportive to our "community" with their other properties is not going to encourage them to remain so.

Where is the ire directed at other game companies who have never (and probably will never) feature any GLBT content? Instead you turn on one that has?

Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaame on you.

sgreco said:

I too have cancelled my preorder.

I dont expect SGRAs from most games. Most games shamelessly presume the player is male, straight and sex-starved. Bioware was different. They made me feel like I wasnt a second class citizen and I loved them for it.

Suddenly, now that they're going majorly high profile (sure gamers know Mass Effect but EVERYONE knows Star Wars) its gone quietly missing.

Why don't I feel the same ire at other game companies? Frankly, because I dont give a rat's behind about them. I never respected them in the first place. I did respect Bioware.

Now, I'm not so sure.

At any rate, its their freedom to not include it.

Its also mine to spend my money on what i wish to -and right now, it isnt TOR.

MikeB said:

No, shame on you. The first thread was put up asking about this 2 *years* ago. That thread has had over twenty sequels, each with other 100 pages of comments. The poll has been up for 2 years. For 2 years Bioware has said "we are not discussing that feature at this time."

Then 4 days ago a developer is asked about it again and he dismissively says "No SGRA is not no in the game," and quickly changes the subject. No explanation has been give for not including SGRA since then. The way this is being handled is not the Bioware that I have respected.

Shame on you for expecting people to give them the "benefit of the doubt" when this has been handled horribly. There have been dozens and dozens of reasons people have given to explain why it's not Bioware's fault. We don't know until they decide they will give us an explanation why they chose to not include SGRA.

If Bioware had stated 2 years ago that SGRA wasn't in the game and their reasons for that decision than this would be a non-issue.

Couac said:

The following is from Stonewallfleet.com (http://stonewallfleet.com/forum/public-lounge/30501-no-same-gender-romances-in-swtor?limit=6&start=36):

"The Official, Unofficial, doesn't exist, you'll have to take my word for it cause I won't be able to prove nor back it up statement.

Neither Bioware, nor Lucas Arts has any problems, issues or concerns about adding or protraying same sex relationships in their games or stories. This ideal has only relatively recently "come out of the closet". Both Bioware and Lucas Arts does infact have several same sex couples working in their respective industries and has no plans to belittle or estrange their genuine love and/or relationships. SW:TOR has IN-FACT recorded several hours of same-sex conversations and relationships for various arcs, and has every intention to add them into the game. Unfortunately, the company who actually owns and operates the physical hardware to enable the game to be played, instituted a clause in their contract stating that they could refuse the right to operate if anything they felt was offensive was placed on their systems. This was an unforseen issue that neither Bioware nor Lucas Arts anticipated. And unfortunately due to the short timeframe remaining until release, there is currently not the time nor resources to move it to a new provider or time to setup a new personal infrastructure. Whether we move the whole operation to a new provider, or we invest in placing on a personal system our end goal is the same as our starting goal, to let all of our players play our games the way they want to play them."

Azuremage said:

I'm not going to fault bioware or lucasarts for this at all. They have always been strong supporters of having same sex relationships in their games and strong supporters of same sex matters in the real world. If they can't get it in this game at this point in time then oh well. I agree with Ray though, you guys tend to blow things way out of proportion and this case is no different. Cancelling your sub because of this is pretty stupid in my opinion, but it is your choice to make because it is your money and your time and if you feel it's that important to you than do it. Now that you've done that though, move along, move along.

Kahlan said:

I think Bioware is pretty nice for including LGBT people in them, even if its not every game, they are included in at least some of their games.

So your an avid supporter playing and enjoying their games, but the second they stop putting them in, some of you act like you want to boycott, regardless of quality, gameplay or just plain enjoyment. You *can* have all those things without being represented.

I understand that some of you are more peeved on the fact this has been asked for many times for many years, but the fact is, its their game, and isn't being happy enough for what you do get, more important than focusing on the negtive fact they chose this route?

Hell, I got excited because Poison, one of only three trans game related girls I know, is gonna be in a new game. But we don't get represented very much, and even if we do, its the endless is she a he - he a she crap. You guys get a positive light ~ AND ~ representation or at the very least more depth with your characters than our Birdos, Poisons, Bridgettes.
Be more mindful about what you do get, and be happy :)

On a final note, this is an mmo, its got alot of roleplaying. I play on the gayest world of warcraft server, and its been lovely. So if bioware doesn't give you the characters themselves, the community in the game, will make their own! ^_^

Ray said:

Thank you for the update Couac. If that is indeed the case, then it's reassuring to know that neither Bioware nor Lucas Arts intentionally omitted same-sex romances. Perhaps the reason they aren't being upfront about it is because they may be trying to fix it. Who knows, maybe it can be implemented in the future? Regardless, I know the game will be stellar and I'm excited for it to be released!

Jerid said:

Anyone have a link to another copy of the interview?
I tried googling, but it looks like they're gone.

Charlie said:

Hrmmmmmm I don't have any problem at all with people buying and enjoying the game but I don't understand the vitriol directed at people who choose not to play the game over this issue.

In an MMORPG, little game features that personalize your character's experience like romance are a huge deal (whereas in something like The Force Unleashed's linear pr-determined story it doesn't matter). If you're trying to roleplay a gay character it would be irritating to lack a feature other players are enjoying.

A few canceled orders are not going to ruin the success of the game - no one should feel obligated to play it. MMO's have always evolved when players pushed developers for a feature they crave.

Elikal said:

The video interview is here, look after 2:40 Min or so.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZH610XP1es&feature=player_embedded


I guess Corey Butler can soon look for a new job. And that interviewer who FAILED to ask ANY questions why and how this came to be, as well. >.

12thGay said:

I think I'll keep my money. Thanks for making it easy, Bioware!

Thomas Binney said:

While I personally feel romances with NPCs are completely stupid, I can not understand the point of having them in game, even between differing species, and neglecting same sex romances.

Ok, that's not true, I understand it's 100% about money, that if they felt there was more money for having them, they'd be in, I just don't like that answer very much.

Honestly after seeing the GW2 vids I wasn't planning on playing this anymore, now I have a social reason too. When my wife hears about this she definitely won't be willing to play.

Cheers,

Tom Binney

Hershey said:

They said they will add SGRAs sometime after launch.

Rejoice.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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