The newly free-to-play Star Wars: The Old Republic will soon be releasing a paid expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. What really has everyone talking, however, is the inclusion of same-sex romance options along with the expansion pack.
It seems like no one is really happy with this addition. Of course you have the expected homophobes coming out of the woodwork (see here for some choice comments, if you feel like getting angry), but supporters of equal-opportunity romance bring up a great point: if you’re going to include the option, why hide it behind a pay wall? This forces those who want to experience same-sex flirtation to pay, something that those who want to experience hetrosexual in-game relationships don’t have to do. It also has a weird segregation vibe – why are all the gay people confined to Makeb?
I’m not really sure why it’s such a shock that Bioware is incorporating homosexual relationships into the game – after all, they’ve always provided the same options in their other games (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Jade Empire) and even alluded to it in Knights of the Old Republic. This is not new to the company, and representatives (see: David Gaider) have defended equal-opportunity romance in the past.
On the official SW:TOR blog, executive producer Jeff Hickman wrote in a state of the game post:
“First of all, I want to apologize that this is taking so long to get in the game. I realize that we promised SGR [same-gender romance] to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a companion character. Unfortunately, this will take a lot more work than we realized at the time and it (like some other pieces of content we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play. As we have said in the past, allowing same gender romance is something we are very supportive of.
Secondly, I want to reveal today that we are adding SGR with some NPCs on Makeb and do intend on pursuing more SGR options in the future. More details to come!”
So they are working on wider integration of SGR, and I believe that Bioware’s intentions were good – they just picked a temporary method of implementing it that has some unfortunate implications. However, I’m not sure why they didn’t include gay people in the first place – after all, they haven’t had a problem with it in the past. They could have solved a lot of their current problem that way. I’ll include two of the comments on that article: one by gamer Wrthlessnoob, “I understand this is something that was “promised” but why do we even need it in this game? Go play Mass effect if you want that, I don’t think it belongs in Star Wars.” Encouragingly though, another poster, Kriesel, said, “Hurry up with Same-sex. It’s the 21st century and about time we get over the butt hurt about how others want to live their lifes.” There are some good, open -minded players out there among the ones who don’t want to see it at all, and there are more than just Kriesel – quite a few posters said that inclusion of SGR meant a lot to them. Hopefully soon, Bioware can make homosexual relationships available across the entire galaxy, and this will no longer be an issue!