Published January 14, 2013
Despite vocal opposition from thousands of angry gamers, a software developer has added support for homosexual relationships to the game “Star Wars: The Old Republic” -- albeit just on a single planet.
“As we have said in the past, allowing same gender romance is something we are very supportive of,” wrote BioWare’s Jeff Hickman, executive producer of “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” in a blog post last week. He revealed that same-gender romances (or SGR) would be allowed on the planet Makeb, and the company is “pursuing more SGR options in the future.”
The gay planet will appear only in an expansion pack called “Rise of the Hutt Cartel,” and it will include characters with canned, flirtatious dialog for same-sex players. The move has generated controversy among everyone involved, with some calling for a separation of sexual preference from the game, and others lambasting what they say feel like digital segregation.
In a heated debate on the company’s webservers, the topic received more attention than the ongoing drought on Tatooine or the Empire’s latest Death Star.
“Well it's good to see the SGR people are getting some attention. They've only been asking for the option since beta,” one player noted. Publisher Electronic Arts has been wrestling with the issue for months, after promising in April 2012to stand up against what was described as “several thousand” letters and emails protesting the inclusion of same sex content in its games.
"Every one of EA's games includes ESRB content descriptors so it's hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content. This isn't about protecting children, it's about political harassment," Jeff Brown, vice president of corporate communications, told Games Industry International at the time.
It was no April Fool’s joke, however, and some gamers remain vehemently opposed.
Others were more strongly unified against same sex relationships than the rebel alliance.
“Star Wars is a family based story with nothing to do with SGR,” one gamer wrote on the forums. “Please, please, please Bioware, Lucasarts, and EA do not allow SGR in Star Wars The Old Republic. It will ruin the game and make a lot of people leave it.”