Players on both sides of the Star Wars: The Old Republic debate come out swinging.
Though touted as an upcoming feature some time ago, the recent confirmation from BioWare producer Jeff Hickman that same-sex romances would be a gameplay mechanic in Star Wars: The Old Republic has reignited the forum flames. Trumpets flared and the earth quaked, the drums of war sending ripples through the air as the very fabric of the gaming continuum was torn asunder.
Actually, none of that happened. The sky did not fall and, somehow, some way, straight gamers did not magically get the urge to taste the rainbow. Granted, the comments section of various gaming outlets (let alone the game’s official forums) might make you think otherwise but, no, this was not the gamer apocalypse. Soon, there will be an option to court bromance in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Does it matter?
The answer is yes, and no. It depends. Maybe?
Much as people like to tell themselves otherwise, all arguments are not created equal, and it’s the basis for opposition that matters more than the opposition itself. For one, people have to consider that this is BioWare- this is not a new direction for them. If they weren’t afraid of completely alienating their straight male playerbase, there would probably be at least one male in every game they make daisy dukin’ it with full swagger.
Like that visual? You’re welcome.
I kid, but therein lies another problem; the idea that somehow ‘gay’ equals an effeminate male whose sole mission is to corrupt innocent children. Even though this is only an option designed to promote equality in gaming, a lot of players are afraid of BioWare “gaying up” their games. BioWare may have shot themselves in the foot on this one, by making Dragon Age 2’s same-sex companions a tad too friendly. Those previously secure in their neutrality on the issue had the ice smashed out from under them in DA2. Baby steps, BioWare, baby steps.
The angst follows the above and many more arguments, the majority falling painfully on their faces. “Gayness is not family-friendly!” Oh no, what ever will the lovingly adopted children of gay parents do!? “Not in the original Star Wars”, says the guy blissfully unaware that most of Star Wars: The Old Republic is quite different from the original films as well. The original trilogy featured lightsaber amputations and half-naked Twi’lek dancers – is that okay to expose children to? “But it’s a Disney-owned property!” I got news for ya- Disney has been a pioneer in offering benefits to the partners of gay employees for years now. If you wanted to know their stance on the matter, there it is.
Then came that one argument that actually makes sense, that one bit of potential light amidst the mass of disappointing darkness still hiding within the prejudice of the masses; why is this a priority? It’s a good question. I’d be turning a blind eye to the problems Star Wars: The Old Republic has had as a whole if I didn’t on some level agree. The Old Republic has come a long way since its launch, but there is a definite lack of new content. With this in mind, shouldn’t content enjoyable by The Old Republic’s entire community take priority over something that arguably targets a minority group?
Romance-enabled NPCs, some forget, are not just for the gay gamers among us, there are plenty of straight options, as well. Every great story has a romance, even if unrequited. As it turns out, Bioware (who’ve built their empire on story-driven content, mind you) wants everyone to feel included. I see nothing wrong with this.
There are players that are validated by this option, who will feel appreciated and included in the fun, and all it took was some extra lines of code and dialog. Is it really that big a deal? You’re really going to begrudge them something so small and, in the scheme of things, unimportant?
I saw various gamers ask in a forum, “Why is this even news?” Honestly, it wasn’t…until the community made it so.