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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Say hello to The Old Republic's gay planet

This is Makeb. It's a gay planet. When I say it's a gay planet I don't mean that the planet itself is innately homosexual. Makeb itself is just a genderless, oblate spheroid of rock surrounding a sexy molten iron core, shuffled away in some dark corner of a far away galaxy. When I say that Makeb is a gay planet I mean that it is the only location in Star Wars: The Old Republic in which you can be gay. It's the one planet in the universe where flirtatious dialogue options will appear in conversations with similarly gendered characters. It's the only planet on which you can kiss somebody with similarly shaped genitals as the screen fades to black and "doing it" music starts playing.

That's very strange. Why have all the space-faring homosexuals been exiled to Makeb? Even weirder: why do players have to pay real money to visit this extraterrestrial homo-haven?

The answer is simple enough. All gay content is to be confined to one planet simply because BioWare Austin neglected to include any gay companions in the initial release of The Old Republic. They carefully and consciously created over 40 companion characters, 10 of them romanceable men, 10 of them romanceable women, while the rest presumably just stare sexlessly into space. They are all fully scripted characters, all voice-acted and, for some arcane reason we may never understand, all as straight as teen pop stars.

This was an oddly regressive move from a developer who, in previous RPGs, had created player controlled characters who can sling and wrap their sloppy crotch-meat around anyone who’ll have them. BioWare's Dragon Age invented the "herosexual" almost out of coding laziness, where you need only flex a greased bicep before a slew of pansexual male and female NPCs would magically appear inside your pants and start latching on to whatever organs they could find.

But for better or worse (in The Old Republic's case definitely worse: if you really want to keep your crummy, awkward romance scenes you cannot continue to create narrow-minded sex-fantasies for straight white men while feeling piously self-satisfied about including a modicum of sexable male characters for your female players — try harder or ditch the entire thing until we can all act and make games like grown ups) that’s what happened. Let’s file that under “whoops we forgot what century it was” and get back to Makeb, where men and ladies are having the kind of filthy sex they could literally only dream about on Tatooine.

BioWare, in response to demand from fans, decided to bring gay relationships to The Old Republic. They’re doing this in a paid-for update called The Rise of the Hutt Cartel, and including it as a new feature alongside things like World PvP and the ability to copy your character to the Public Test Server. However, the clinically acronymed SGR (same-gender romance) won’t add gay companions for new players. Nor will it turn any existing companions bisexual. Instead it will place some gay NPCs on this new planet of Makeb, meaning gay romances in The Old Republic aren't as developed as straight romances, exist behind a paywall, and are for high-level characters only.
BioWare's problem is clear. The Old Republic is remarkable for its vast amount of recorded dialogue, so even if EA haven’t already sacked all their actors and sold all their microphones, it would take significant resources and time to bring just one fully voiced gay companion into the basic, free-to-play game. The Old Republic's executive producer Jeff Hickman has promised a greater effort will be made at some point in the future, but for now gay players just have to make do with being relegated, which is probably an improvement on being totally ignored.

Adding gay NPCs to Makeb is a bizarre half-measure then, a jarring stop-gap that only serves as testament to an existing in-game sexual inequality. At worst, it suggests that BioWare don’t understand the concerns of those fans who want to play the game according to their own identities, that they see “SGR” as additional or surplus to the regular game rather than something that should sit quietly and seamlessly alongside heterosexual dialogue options from the outset. SGR shouldn’t be a feature. It shouldn't be a dirty fling on a remote planet. It shouldn’t be an acronym. It should just be.
And now BioWare have needlessly painted themselves into a corner by briefly forgetting that gay people exist and that they play games and that they’re almost indistinguishable from humans. It’s almost as if they should’ve chucked in a few gay characters the first time around and saved themselves a whole heap of trouble, rather than scrabbling to work them into the MMO by parachuting emergency gays on to remote planets.
Naturally, fans are disappointed that BioWare haven’t gone far enough in their promises to bring gay romance to Star Wars. Even more naturally, there are players grossly upset that BioWare have even taken this tiny step. They are angry and terrified people who were happy to subscribe to imagined heterosexual space-intercourse, but are now cast adrift in this horrifying and brave new world of tolerance and dialogue choices that let you wink at homosexual space captains if you really want to.

"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. I'm only suggesting my opinion because I love this game so much and I don't want to see it go down the drain. As a subscriber, I'm asking all of you to change your mind. Star Wars is a family based story with nothing to do with SGR."

There are those who think The Old Republic shouldn't include SGR because the ghastly spectre of controversy will single-handedly destroy the game, and certainly not because they have some personal problem with it.

"Also got to agree with some of the posts on the sgr , if you cant get it right in the real world then dont stick it in the game , way to hot a topic to draw that kind of attention . I forsee thousands of parents deleting this game from their kids computers and others because their church told them to , Why go there ? is it realy worth it?"

There are also some oblivious straight men who not only believe that homosexuality doesn't exist in the Star Wars universe, but that same-sex relationships exist only between women and only for their own voyeuristic benefit.

"Yeah and SGRs make sense in SW universe?!?! Call me old fashioned and old, but I would rather see some good world PVP than my female powertech making out with Mako..."

Then there's the guy who probably encapsulates the anti-gay argument best. I'll highlight the phrase that most efficiently captures the sense of arm-flailing queer-panic ricocheting around this person's brain like a stray, rainbow-coloured bullet.



"Bioware has ruined Star Wars."

Maybe it's appropriate that Makeb has stirred up this much melodrama. Seeing it attacked so viciously by the few blinkered players who haven't had their backwards views censored by forum moderators actually makes me feel strangely protective of this little gay planet, even though in practice it's a terrible sort of gay zoo, a homosexual holding pen borne of BioWare Austin's old fashioned attitude and lack of foresight.

Makeb shouldn't exist in isolation as it does, but as long as it does it serves as a solemn reminder, offering sage universal advice to future generations of MMOs: put gay characters in your RPGs from the start or else you'll have to awkwardly work them into your game in a way that pleases precisely nobody.

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"Yeah and SGRs make sense in SW universe?!?! " Yes, how dare they put in same-sex relationships after they had put one of those in ages ago with KOTOR 1?!

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I don't play Old Republic, but I'm happy that an MMO exists that I can express my identity in, without having to wear bright pink or something. I agree with your article though. It's as though they've made a planet like Gethen from The Left Hand of Darkness to allow homosexuality as bizarre end-game content (is it end-game?). So yeah it's a brave step, and one that's arguably necessary for the MMO genre which hasn't really dealt with this before.

If I could play this game from the start expressing my own identity then I would drop Guild Wars 2 straight away: it's a breath of fresh air. Then again I paid like £50 for Guild Wars 2...

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What was the full context of the "Bioware has ruined Star Wars." comment? Based on the bit I can read, it seems he/she is railing at Bioware for being totally out of step and 'mishandling', well, something.

Is it the subject (which sorta agrees with your post) or is it their mishandling of the wills of the predominantly straight 'master race' of gaming who don't like looking at sausages in supermarkets because they're scared it will release some deep-rooted homosexuality within them?

I don't want to look myself. The Bioware forums are so full of c*nts that even the people who own them don't want to look at them anymore.

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Congratulations, you have successfully hijacked a cause in order to get page views. Feel good about yourself? Anyone really interested in gay rights wouldn't complain about progress -- besides the fact that this has nothing to do with gay rights, given that it's a video game. You suck.

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Do you not think that this article is hysterical? For example the article states

"oblivious straight men who not only believe that homosexuality doesn't exist in the Star Wars universe, but that same-sex relationships exist only between women and only for their own voyeuristic benefit."

When the relevant comment is actually saying...

"Call me old fashioned and old, but I would rather see some good world PVP than my female powertech making out with Mako..."

Implying that he'd rather simply see some player versus player combat than any lesbian sexual encounter at all. Calling someone a voyeur in this situation is rather odd. Of course you have "read into" his statement and have assumed that this "oblivious straight man" (do you have evidence he is even straight?) is using the lesbian relationship as an example purely because the only feasible use he sees for such a feature is as a sexual voyeur.

This is simply bullshit. What a horrible cognitive dissonance is occuring when a individual can't even state he does NOT have an interest in lesbian voyeurism without being criticised for it. At no point has he indicated that he sees no other reason for people wanting SGR other than hetrosexual desires, he has merely mentioned what is theoretically relevant to him as a (probably) straight man as a negative.

What's more this article is poor because it takes a totally one sided positive look at the SGR implementation and see it entirely as a matter of gay rights. However it is totally oblivious to the fact a large number of people engaging in and desiring this SGR these will be straight voyeuristic males anyway. You might find a rational approach more convincing than hysteria in future.

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Another major lack is the failure to consider that anyone might not want SCR in the game simply because they think romantic relationships don't make sense in the SW mmo universe at all. Many mmo player have strong feeling against roleplay in the first place (ever seen what goes on in goldshire on RP servers?), and frankly many people (including myself) probably feel that in a game, particularly an mmo, sex and romance of any kind merely detract from the game rather than provide anything. How many SW players actually engage in sex and romance?

Games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age are single player letting you craft your own story, MMO's don't need to be made any more seedy. I bet many players would agree and do away with the romance / sex element completely.

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Given bobthecoolkids flustered, rambling reply I'd say this article was pretty good as sussing out the motives of certain detractors

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"Given bobthecoolkids flustered, rambling reply I'd say this article was pretty good as sussing out the motives of certain detractors"

Yeah wow I mean his arguments are all really weird.

Saying that this might be about romances not having a place in SW or MMOs is kinda irrelevant considering that they were KOTR and more importantly that straight relationships are already in the game, he points to single player games as being more understandable for these choices but I actually think the opposite is true. In a single player game the narrative has been written specifically for a character which has been created and which the player is taking control of. Therefore if this character has a straight or (virtually theoretically) a homosexual relationship then it is always going to be, at least in principal, appropriate as that is the preference of that character, personally preference is irrelevant. It is in MMOs I would argue that player agency and a personal story are most important, because the characters at there base level are so generic and you are surrounded be numerous copies these games work via player customization inc. basic things such as naming and gender and appearance, therefore it is surely logical that in this case the player is also able to say what there character's sexual preference is as well. Whether that is a kid feeling proud he got pixel women to kiss or someone who cares about that story line and feels it express them or who their character is. It kind of, and forgive me for making such wild implications, comes off as you saying it's fine if I don't have to see it or if it's not in my face... not that it would be in SWOTR anyway since it's not like they are forcing you to play this content or that people who do it will suddenly be in pink amour and ruining everrrythiiiing. Also while I'm here SGR is basically the most awful term ever, hiding this issue behind an acronym is terrible and allows people to get away with saying offensive and ultimately, a lot of the time, homophobic things. Saying that SGR is wrong and has no place in the game might come off a bit differently if people had to say gay relationships have no place in the game or are wrong for it.

Further more the fact that '...this article is poor because it takes a totally one sided positive look at the SGR implementation and see it entirely as a matter of gay rights.' Okay let me ask this, if this was about interracial relationships or black characters being included into the game do you think that this wouldn't be issue about race? If people were asking do black characters 'make sense in SW universe' because in the original trilogy there is only one black character, would it not be completely outrageous and unacceptable? It becomes an issue of rights because that's what people make it, those comments above are not about anything but those people's prejudices.... or if they are then those people are completely ignorant and self absorbed 'I don't want it so why should they do it'.

Now I'm going to assume with the name Shill your probably a troll account but still just in case anyone reads that comment and things YEAH I'm gonna have a look at it.

'Anyone really interested in gay rights wouldn't complain about progress -- besides the fact that this has nothing to do with gay rights, given that it's a video game.'

As discussed in the article this progress is really no progress at all or at least not meaningfully and certainly could not be accused of being equal to the heterosexual relationships in the game. As for this having nothing to do with anyone's rights because it's a video game is also just wrong, I mean to begin with I would say this almost has nothing to do with the game itself but about the people involved here, from Bioware who have gone from KOTR having same sex relationships and I don't think it ever really getting mentioned (I actually don't know so forgive me if I am wrong, but not on this scale anyway) to suddenly, we can maybe give people who want SGR (acronym not explained by representative) a planet...on their own.... a year after release through to those commenters, on a forum recently described by David Gaider (the lead writer on Bioware's Dragon Age series) as toxic, fearing that their 'family based story' has no place for gay relationships. And maybe... MAYBE, that should make you at least raise half an eyebrow and ask why.

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I guess that bobtheuncool and Shilly McShillington are on the side of no SGR, then. Quite clearly so. Nice article, considering the responses. It's always interesting to see what happens when you poke narrow, small-minded views too much. It seems to make the brain of the respective person fall apart.

"WAT? MY GENERAL XENOPHOBIA IS NO LONGER RELEVANT? I'M NOT RELEVANT TO THIS WORLD?! FUCK THIS WORLD. FUCK YOU!"

And that's pretty much what we got above, wouldn't you say? Narrow-minded and straight white guys get so amazingly emo when you tell them that they can't be xenophobic whackjobs. (I cite xenophobia because usually homophobia is a bedfellow with racism in that sort of mindset.)

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Man the responses here are just bullshit. Simply because you cannot understand a longish sentence there's no need to accuse me of rambling.

All I've said is that firstly the writer of this article has obviously misrepresented what the commenters they have quoted are saying.

In the mind of the writer of this article - Stating that gay relationships don't make sense in SWTOR implies that you don't believe there are any gay relationships in the SW universe. A question that doesn't even make logical sense considering it's a fictional universe. Essential this is just to make a political issue out of nothing as pathetic as the whole gay characters in Harry Potter issue. It fiction for God's sake interpret it how you please.

Then because that same person has stated "Call me old fashioned and old, but I would rather see some...PVP than my female powertech making out with Mako". They have concluded that this commenting invidiual believes SGR in SWTOR is solely for the voyeuristic pleasures of heterosexual males.

Again this is a bullshit conclusion, simply because someone has stated this specific as an example does not imply they are not aware of the bigger picture. Arguing so is just utterly bunk. The only explanation I see is that the writer decided to conclude all this on the basis that as a lesbian example was choosen, then lesbian sex shows must be that the the commentators (a de facto straight male) sees the purpose of SGR in SWTOR.

Then I further criticised him for not giving thought to a) that the reason for the implementation of SGR in the game on behalf of the developers might not be entirely pure as snow as heterosexual will use it as voyeurs and b) that some MMO players might feel that any relationships detract from the MMO experience. Contrary to Kingyo's opinion some people don't want to have character developement in MMO's, they skips the stories because they want to PVP or PVE and that is all.

Look at World of Warcraft the majority of the players don't care about lore or there characters except insofar as it helps them in the game. The strong negative reactions here should not be put down purely to homophobia, some people just don't desire the features for personal non-prejudice reasons. Of course it's easier just to label anyone who doesn't agree with you a bigot and react hysterically.

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Oh and that said I even think it is fair in this situation that SGR is implemented for two reasons 1. They said they would do it. 2. Straight relationships are already there so I don't see why LGB relationships can't be to.

However trying to make it into a political hot topic simply because the implementation is on one planet only. As if homosexuals were being oppressed in real life being restricted in what they can do and can't do. That is just utterly small and frankly unworthy. I'm sure if the devs would implement it overnight they could. Just get real this is a game and this is how it ended up getting developed. They've implemented SGR stop bemoaning what are essentially financial restrictions of a game whose business model has been struggling its whole existence.

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You know actually I think in many ways I agree with bobthecoolkid, the main crux of this I think is that straight relationships are in this game, for every character so there is no reason for gay relationships not to be there. However I would say, country to his opinion, that this is a story based unlike wow (as many changes as it makes) and it has a history in the form of KOTR that a lot of people will I think expect it to live up to in certain aspects one of those is a unique story with a good amount of player choice. The other argument raised that its a waste of developmental time or whatever because MMO players don't care I don't think stands again because of already making relationships a fairly major part of each characters storyline.

I think that people claiming this is a homophobic issue or about gay rights due to biowares decisions are blowing it up but I think the horrible reactions of people (some of which are featured above) are undeniably homophobic and there is a question over how such an oversight occurred to not have them in from the start, especially when they were in KOTR.

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Homosexuals comprise, using the most generous statistics, between 5-10% of the population. SW:TOR is not a moral crusade, nor is it a life-simulation, it is a commercially-driven game. As such, I don't see why anyone was surprised that homosexuals weren't specifically catered too - they will be a tiny part of the game's population.

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Am I the only person who can't understand why nationality and sex come into on-line games? surely you just play within the parameters of the game-world, you do whatever you are supposed to do that makes it a game and not real life. I can't understand why people have to establish real-world coordinates of phenomena that aren't really possible within the world. I don't role play, obviously, but it's beyond me how all of this arises.

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Nicely written.

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