Game-maker BioWare is adding more diversity to its multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic, in the form of same-sex relationships.
(Screenshot by GameSpot)
Because of this, the publisher of the game, EA, is coming under fire from anti-gay conservative groups, such as the Florida Family Association and the Family Research Council.
"There were no LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] characters in any of the Star Wars movies," the Florida Family Association declared on its website. "So if BioWare, the maker of Star Wars video games, adds LGBT characters for kids to select as their action character, it could be something like Darth RuPaula, a combination of Darth Vader, one of the most popular Star Wars characters, and RuPaul, the renown transgender cross-dresser."
The conservative group has started a letter-writing campaign, urging people to write to EA, and says it will boycott the company unless it agrees to remove same-sex relationships from the game. It also alleges that "queer activists" have pressured the game maker to include gay characters in the Star Wars game.
For its part, EA is standing firm.
"EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games. However, we have met with LGBT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don't tolerate hate speech on our forums," Jeff Brown, vice president of corporate communications for EA, told GamesIndustry in an interview last week. "This isn't about protecting children; it's about political harassment."
BioWare has a long history of exploring human relationships beyond hetero-normative boundaries in its games, including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and its Dragon Age and Mass Effect series.
So far, more than 2 million copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic have been sold.