Okay. I have to admit something. I don’t have a real voice in the fight for gay rights or to include minorities in video games. I’m probably the worst person to even talk about any of this being a straight, white male in my mid-twenties. I’m nearly the opposite of what I need to be to have a clear and viable voice in any fight. However, I’m a little angered by this post on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I think this anger comes from two different sources.
Why does every game have to include every relationship combination?
While the quote that Star Wars universe does not contain the words “gay” or “lesbian” is, at the very least, insulting to anyone who uses those labels, it’s also probably untrue. Taken at its word, that quote means that in an entire galaxy, there are no same sex relations, at all. Despite the fact that there are thousands if not millions of species, this shade of love does not exist? Yeah, I don’t think that’s true. So, let’s step around that for the moment.
I’m not sure that I should be able to express any intention or play style that I can come up with in all games. It is okay that I may not be able to play with certain relationships in Mass Effect, for example. This does not make the game less for me. I can come into the game with however I feel and project that onto the character. If the game does not support this narrative, it does not matter. My personal narrative is more important than any framework narrative that the game may maintain. If I decided, in my playthrough, that one character is gay and another not, it does not matter. If the developers does not include the necessary parts of the story to support these ideas, what does it matter? The interpretation of the events in the game can be validated through the use of the person, not the game itself. If a game does not include gay or lesbian characters, put them into it if you want, especially if the game allows for you to have select “romances”. As long as you do not treat your intended virtual partner as a prostitute, you can rationalize the characters into different relationships.
Let me note here that I am NOT justifying such actions. If the game is limiting the romance options to just straight male or straight female, then they are limiting the potential of exploration of both space and relationships in the game. If the advertising of the game, the features of the game, say that you can have romance options, then it is the responsibility of the game to have a good reason for not including certain options. I think that Mass Effect (2), is missing something in that same sex relationships can be explored — letting alone how, from one angle, all non-human relationships are probably bestiality, sex among different species. If you want the protagonist, as the developer, not to be gay or lesbian, then have a reason more than just “We didn’t think about it” or “no gay in space”. That’s lazy and wrong.
Should I have to pay to play as gay?
I know that is a strong statement to write. I know that it might not express exactly how I feel about this whole thing, but I think it fits this instance. If the patch, expansion or whatever you need to call the content that is added to the game that includes gay or lesbians characters as love interests is something that people will have to pay for, then it is making the equality that you must pay to be gay in the game. This is very bad. It is the linking of accessories, horse armor, to that of having the chance to explore a gay or lesbian relationship in a game. What? That is the worst approach of allowing people a choice. If they can be anyone they want in the game, then making them pay for a certain aspect of that character is awful.
If the purpose of adding this “gay patch” is to answer all the cries against what is, let’s face it, discrimination, then it should be free. Saying that all characters are somehow equal, yet making some people pay to express their character’s sexuality is wrong. It is creating a situation where only those who are both willing and able to pay for such content can have these choices for their characters. Some cannot afford, for various reasons, to spend money on such content additions. Others are unwilling to invest more money into a game they have already payed for.
Conclusion: This MMO has… romances!?
I will admit (again) that my time with MMOs is limited to mostly just World of Warcraft. And in that game, there were not romances. I might have been able to support a relationship via text with another player, but not with NPCs. There is not a way to do that, as far as I know. How do you have a relationship, give and take, with someone who only has one response for you, or no responses at all?
What is this Old Republic to have such relationships? I don’t understand that. In what way is this a good thing? There is no way to escape the descent into having NPCs be prostitutes, having to buy your way into their favor. This is the way of MMOs, faction points for various things. In order to have a relationship, you will have to bring gifts, to pay your way into a relationship. This is they way of MMOs. This is the way of prostitution. Characters can have relationships between themselves, nothing is preventing that. Right now, I see no way for these “additional romance options” not to be pay as you go.