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May 12, 2009

Gays are in the gaming world – WTF Bioware!!

It’s 2009 and the gaming industry is still having a hard time dealing with the concept of gay and lesbian characters in their games.  While the industry can’t possible be blinded to the fact that gay folks are gamers and we have contributed to the success of the industry; publishers, designers and others involved have chosen for decades to sweep us under the carpet.

This notion could not have been brought more to life than the recent conundrum that occurred on the Bioware’s game forum for the new highly anticipated MMO on Star Wars: The Old Republic.    Eurogamer reported that a forum mod on BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic banned users from discussing potential gay character relationships in the upcoming game.  Not only did they ban users from discussing potential gay characters, they closed the threads, banned any use of the word gay, homosexual, lesbian and basically censored the forums.

The community manager went so far as to write (and I quote):  “As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed.”

Forum User Elikal's Avatar

Forum User Elikal's Avatar

Now to Bioware’s credit, they have since reopened the thread which has turned into (as of today) over 107 pages on the topic.  (Click here to get to thread) The person who started this thread (Forum user Eikal) is quoted in the forum as saying: “…..I am grateful Bioware has opened the thread again, and allowed the words gay and lesbian now. Though I can’t hide that I am quite disappointed. Bioware games had always been about complex ethical questions, about vast, diverse realities, and as such I had never expect Bioware of all companies to be so… narrow in this question. I was a Bioware fan so long… it was really a shock to see the thread closed. Thanks to all the supporters, and even those who in civilized words disagreed, since debating things is what makes a modern society work…”

If you guys remember way way back some time ago, I talked about a gay character in the Star Wars Old Republic named Juhani.  There are others like Goran Beviin (Human male Mandalorian commando, bounty hunter and a contract killer active under the New Republic – around 24ABY – 24 years after the battle of Yavin) and his partner who was a blacksmith named Medrit Vasur.  So yes they are there – not many, not openly obvious – but they exist.

Bioware – you just can’t pretend that the whole “gay thing” doesn’t exist and I think that community manager owes the gay gaming community an apology.    It may be easier to just ignore such things and pretend they don’t exist.  I would challenge everyone to simply assume that the Star Wars universe is rich in diversity and characters and it would just make sense that in that vast universe where all kinds of characters exist, there are some that are gay.  I like Bioware as a company – they make fantastic games but this whole censorship episode bothers me and it should bother you too.

Thomas

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