Leave it to religious conservatives to get wound up over a video game that will, brace yourself, include same-sex relationships.
Back in December, Bioware, a video game maker, released Star Wars: The Old Republic, a multiplayer online role playing game. Think World of Warcraft but set in the Star Wars universe, you know, with Jedi, wookies and such.
Bioware, for more than a decade, has made some of the most critically acclaimed and memorable (“Go for the eyes, Boo!“) computer role playing games and characters. The best of them surpass mere game to become interactive novel.
One of the features in many of those games is that computer-controlled companions with their own personalities join the player on his virtual adventures. And in many of the games, the player character can develop relationships with companions, including romantic ones.
Those romantic relationships carried over to The Old Republic, but the release version allows only heterosexual relationships. This being a galaxy full of aliens, some of those were cross-species, but always one man and one woman.
Players complained. A lot. And Bioware took the hint. The company announced a while back that an update to the game would add same-sex romantic possibilities. Players could then choose their character’s sexuality, just as they choose to be human or alien, what skills they will have and more.
Tony Perkins of the inappropriately named Family Research Center warned, “In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists! … In a galaxy not so far far away, Star Wars gamers have already gone to the dark side.”
OK, never mind that he doesn’t seem to get that the Sith Empire are the bad guys, so anything that threatens the Empire must be good, right?
The Florida Family Association, meanwhile, worries there will be a Darth VaPaula (Vader + RuPaul, get it? Just look at the picture they posted, which I’ve included above.)
This isn’t even the first Bioware game that will allow same-sex relationships. It’s just gotten the most attention.
The Old Republic is a game with all sorts of complex issues in it. There are war and death and moral decisions to make. So what if some gamers choose to role play as lesbian or gay in the virtual world?
Besides, did these religious groups think the Star Wars universe was for straights only? Come on. C-3P0? Jar Jar Binks? Even Lando Calrissian always struck me as a bit of a player.
So, yes, there will be lesbians and gay people in same-sex relationships a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. You know, just like the real world.