Sep 132011
 

Ever since Cory Butler confirmed on BioWare Pulse TV that same gender romance arcs (SGRAs) will not be in SWTOR at launch, BioWare has been silent on the issue even as a large portion of the gaming community has debated both sides of the issue. Today Stephen Reid hopped onto the Dev Tracker to say that SGRAs will be included as a “post-launch feature.” He implies that the current exclusion of this feature was due to a choice made based on time constraints.

Full statement and Comments after the jump.

Official statement follows:

Due to the design constraints of a fully voiced MMO of this scale and size, many choices had to be made as to the launch and post-launch feature set. Same gender romances with companion characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a post-launch feature. Because The Old Republic is an MMO, the game will live on through content expansions which allow us to include content and features that could not be included at launch, including the addition of more companion characters who will have additional romance options.

Assuming that BioWare is shooting for ESRB’s Teen rating, this announcement quells arguments that the presence of SGRAs automatically results in a Mature rating. Reaction to the announcement runs the gamut — praise for being inclusive, indifference, criticism of homosexuality as “creepy and weird,” irritation that development time is being wasted on SGRAs.

Stephen points out that SGRAs are of interest to more than just a tiny segment of the population and that it will be only one of many other features that will be introduced post-launch in his follow-up post here. Stephen says exact details are still being worked out, you will not be “tricked” into an SGRA here. Allison Berryman reminds everyone to keep the conversation civil here.

  24 Responses to “Same Gender Romance Arcs Post-Launch”

  1. I may not be right, but i’m not left eather. I realy dont see the big deal about this, after all Dragen age had same gender romances. I say yes, i like it.

  2. I agree, having SGRAs should not be a big deal. It’s content that you can avoid if you want to. And content that adds more choices if you choose to pursue it. Romance arcs are a key feature in BioWare games and it’s an obvious hole if you don’t include all the choices. I really don’t buy the “it’s just a video game” argument. That would hold water if there were no romances built into the game, but there are.

    Given the way this topic has been handled by BioWare, I was very surprised to see this sudden announcement that SGRAs will be included. I really expected them to keep dodging the ball for much longer and then maybe hide behind the ESRB ratings system. Really glad they made the decision to include the content, even if it comes much later down the line.

  3. I agree and am glad that they are giving the option to persue the SGRA. However, to be fair to both side of the argument, they need to include some option that will disable them for players that will feel uncomfortable even seeing the dialog options. Regardless of personal feelings, as a society we all have the choice whether to avoid that area or not. Same should go for the game…

  4. But people do have a choice. The choice is not to pursue that content.

  5. Kathy I agree with you but what I am saying is some people won’t even like seeing the romantic option available to them in the game. It has been stated that you will know that you are persuing a romantic option with the companion on the dialog wheel. Just hide that option all together, don’t let it be seen. I don’t want have to worry about being nice to my companion and accidently going down a route I didn’t intend. Just saying that would be fair to all parties involved.

  6. Fairness means treating both sides equally. Fairness means presenting both heterosexual romances and homosexual romances and letting the player choose which one to pursue. Eliminating half this content with a toggle is not fair, it is catering to one side (unless you also have a toggle that eliminates heterosexual content, though I can’t imagine that anyone familiar enough with popular culture to play video games would be so grossly offended by the premise of a heterosexual romance.)

    The problem with a toggle that removes any mention of a specific demographic from the game universe entirely is that is it ridiculous and, quite frankly, insulting.

    The implications would be functionally and socially the same if you were to create a “No Black People” or “No Women” button. Will this feature safeguard players who are made uncomfortable by the existence of black people and women? Yes, absolutely it would. Will you ever see a toggle like that in a AAA title? Absolutely not.

  7. I would not have a problem if there was a general “Romance Arcs Allowed” or “No Romance Arcs Allowed” toggle. That seems reasonable. But to start breaking it down any farther just seems like catering to people’s prejudices. As Roxanne said to me, “You can’t have a ‘No Homo’ button in the same way you can’t have a ‘No Black People’ button.” :-O

    Tyler, I can see you’re trying to see both sides of the issue and pour oil over the troubled waters…that’s definitely admirable. But having a toggle to hide SGRAs automatically sends the message that BioWare agrees that these type of romance arcs are considered deviant enough that they must remain hidden and reinforces the idea that gay people are not allowed to be part of the community at large.

    It’s not treating people equally, and in my mind that is not the definition of “fair.”

    I can’t speak for the gay community, but I know that if it were a racial thing, I would rather see a game where everyone was Caucasian, than to see a game that was designed with a “Include Asians/Exclude Asians” button. I’d find that toggle MUCH more insulting.

    Anyway, good discussion, Tyler. A lot of people are suggesting exactly what you propose.. I personally do not agree.

  8. Haha Roxanne we need to talk to each other before we get on our soapboxes.

    Tyler, again, we’re not trying to pile on, we love you! I think it’s great that you’re trying to find a middle ground. I’m just not sure there is a middle ground on this issue. But anyway, interesting discussion.

  9. This subject has been debated in the goverment right down to every day people like are selfs, from the begining of human history till who knows in times to come.

    I don’t define my self as gay, but as my first stapment said, ” I may not be right but i’m not left ether.” Lets just say i’m gender confused. Being such i have been labeled as gay.

    With that said, I would not find it insalting to have a Toggle butten, if it would save alot of heart ake for this game.

    Sorry for the miss spelling and bad grammer, that was not my strong suet in school, Math was my thing.

  10. I agree with a toggle to turn romance arcs on or off at creation screen. There are some gamers who do not want this content in the game. I also think this can be another tool to help parents. I do think it is up to parents to help their children to learn how to make decisions, but giving a tool to help parents is not a bad thing either.

  11. Ok so I have to defend my toggle feature a little bit and it will stray away from games and be directed more in the light of a social issue. That being said, the option to have or not have SGR is a social issue more than anything (if it were game changing, then it would have been in at launch). Having them is catering to a crowd that is in the minority and I have no problem with that. The morality of same sex relationships in general is a highly debated topic and it disappoints me that this forum for discusion is creeping into games, as the purpose of the game is to be entertaining.

    All that said, how is this any different from giving the option of exposure to people who choose to see foul language. In general, people are exposed to romances on an every day basis and they are part of life. However, they are not debated at the same level of same sex relationships. This being such a highly debated topic, having an option to “hide” the arc for people who don’t want to be exposed to it seems justified.

    The people who have a problem with SGR would be able disable them and never know the difference. Still enjoying the game as it was intended.

    The people who don’t care either way would see the option and could choose to persue that path or not.

    Lastly, people who prefer SGRA would see the option and could persue it to their pleasure.

    Long post I know. This is what happens when you have a social issue creep into a game. This isn’t the place to debate right/wrong/indifference but is has become that. You make a small group of people happy all the time or make most of the people happy most of the time.

    Would you really be opposed to a check box that could give everyone an option that would make them happy?

    SORRY FOR THE LONG POST

  12. Another thing I forgot to mention in my wall of text. The accepted social norms are completely different when referring to sexuality vs race or sex. There is no debate that people of different races are the same as anyone else as well as women vs men (at least in American society). So when talking about sexuality you enter a completely different realm of discussion. They won’t add a “hide women” “hide blacks” because there are no current social issues that are currently debated based solely on sex or race, however, sexuality is currently “and hottly” debated.

    I would guess that the majority of gamers do not care whether they see SGRA in the game, however there are a minorities on BOTH sides that are incredibly invested on including this in the game. Bioware by adding them has supported one minority side, but has not given consolidation to the other side either. A toggle would do this.

  13. It sounds like what you are saying is essentially that BioWare should not be at the forefront of a social issue to ensure the least number of people are offended.

    Discrimination based on race and gender is no longer socially acceptable, so no toggle for that in games. There are still enough people in society that don’t have a problem with discrimination based on sexual preference, so it’s perceived as more acceptable. It’s a numbers thing, I guess? BioWare will be playing it safe if they acknowledge with an in-game mechanic that SGRs are something people need to be protected from.

    It’s too bad, but I think you’re right on that point.

    I do disagree with your contention that everybody will be universally happy with a toggle option (‘you make a small group of people happy all the time”). I know I will not be and I’m not even gay. But maybe if people on both sides are unhappy about something, we have found the middle ground after all.

    Lastly, you didn’t exactly make this point, but I have seen it made by others — to those who say, “It’s just a game, this kind of debate has no place here,” I would remind them that the big changes in our society (yes, civil rights and gender equality) happened because of people pushing the boundaries of pop culture. That is often (usually?) the place where a shift in attitudes begin. Ever heard of Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

    So BioWare has taken a little baby step towards tolerance of the gay community by announcing SGRAs will be in the game eventually. Good for them. A toggle switch, I think, is taking a half baby step back. But at the very least, I am grateful for the half-baby step gained.

    Good debate, everyone. I kinda want to re-enact it for our next podcast!

  14. I agree with Kathy about no discrimination. The only toggle I support is for no romance arcs or yes romance arcs. You can not separate the different romance arcs without discriminating.

    The reason I support a toggle for yes or no romances, is to help parents as another tool they can use. The toggle should not be yes to one type of romance and no to another romance.
    That is just my opinion.

  15. That would be an intresting podcast, Kathy.

  16. I pretty much agree with Tyler. I want a toggle for SGRA. Yes, you can separate different romance arcs without discriminating by putting that decision in the hands of the person playing the game. It should be your choice to choose SGRA or not choose SGRA. Just my 2 cents.

  17. Kathy I agree that good debate of a social issue is in fact GOOD. I’m glad that I can try and ride my line of thinking without being insulted aswell, Thank you. Some people have not been as kind and accused me of all sorts of things… not on here obviously.

    I think that making a statement on the social acceptableness of same sex relationships in the country is accurate. We as a country are much more tollerable than we used to be, however this is still a very divided issue that most likely won’t have any ammendments to the Constituiton added because of any change. Look at the legality of gay marraige as a point of interest in the arguement… Again this is something that is completely different than race or age and is more along the lines of morality/religion in the arguement. I love to live in the US where people are free to do what they want and will always have those freedoms (hopefully)…

    Bioware is making a statement on this issue, and most people will agree that they are on the right side of the arguement, however, this still does isolate a small number of people on the other side as well. Is this the right thing for them to do? Will this change move any movement forward… I really doubt it. Bioware may be listed on a list somewhere to support an arguement, but I don’t think that they have the social impact as say rallies, musicians, etc have… AKA Bioware won’t be on a talk show circuit talking about there views on the gay community…

    I fail to see how adding a toggle for SGRAs would be discriminatory towards anyone. Giving someone an option to do nothing is by definition the opposite of discriminatroy. There would be no exclusion of any kind, just an option to view something or not. This is supposed to be a personal story that you make your own. By giving the option to eliminate a potentially isolating issue from that story, Bioware is taking a more middle ground stance. If anyone could explain to me how this would offend anyone based upon their own personal experience of the game I would appreciate it. If you want it in just make sure it is on…

    I love to use analogies so here it goes… It is exactly like adding the explicit label on CDs… Some people don’t want to hear it and will buy the clean versions, most don’t care and feel it might take something away, and some like the music for the explicit language. Everyone has a route to go to hear the music, it is my own personal choice that will guide what I do. If there isn’t a clean version out there, then you are isolating and therefore discriminating against people who don’t like foul language.

    Again good debate, and I would be more than happy to be a guest on the podcast if y’all want me. I’m not nearly as infuriating in person as I am when I’m being a keyboard hero, just ask Carla!!

  18. Tyler, this has been a really good exercise in focusing my thoughts on this issue. Thank you for stating your position and using reason to argue your point. It’s frustrating when someone debates you with nothing more than bumper sticker slogans, so it’s refreshing when there’s some actual thinking going on.

    Now here’s where a completely disagree with you again! 😀

    I’m not sure I’m going to be able to explain this, it just seems so obvious to me, but here goes:

    When you make a distinction between people based on anything but individual merit, and treat them differently based on things like race, creed, gender, sexual preference, that is the dictionary definition of discrimination. In your scenario of a toggle, rather than treating all romance arcs equally, you pick out one branch and apply a new game mechanic to that branch only.

    Will a toggle actually change the game for a gay player? I guess not, and maybe that is your point. After seeing the initial check the box option, hopefully, it won’t be an issue anymore. However, it sends a very negative message to the gay player — there are some who don’t like your kind, so we’re giving them the option to avoid being reminded that you even exist. Recently, I mentioned SGRAs and the person I was talking to started to make very loud, very violent retching noises. That is the kind of behavior that BioWare is tacitly approving if they put in a toggle. I do not deny that there are people with these attitudes, I have seen it for myself. But why would we want BioWare to enable that kind of intolerance? Again, I ask, is it just a numbers game? If enough people engage in that kind of intolerant behavior, then we have to accommodate these prejudices?

    I can start to see where people are coming from (even though I vehemently disagree) when they say that avoiding SGRAs is justified intolerance. At least I get why they think the way the do. But it really confuses me when people say there’s nothing going on here that should bother anyone. If you point at someone and say that they are somehow unsavory, is it really that surprising if they react negatively?

    The main thing is, please remember that SGRAs will be totally optional and players already have the choice not to pursue them. Stephen Reid has stated that you will not be tricked into pursuring an SGRA. In previous BioWare games and in previous builds of SWTOR it is very clear when you are pursuing a romantic dialogue choice. It says “Flirt” very clearly after the text on the dialogue wheel. I saw this when I played at the Fan Site Summit. I believe in Dragon Age a big red heart appears.

    So this idea that without a Toggle you are depriving players of the choice not to pursue SGRAs has no foundation. Players already have the choice. If you want more mechanisms to avoid accidental romance arcs of any kind, I’m all for that. I feel the same way about Light/Dark choices. The game should make these choices very clear.

    But if the problem is that players don’t want to be reminded that gay relationships even exist, that is something else entirely.

    Furthermore, I have to ask you to re-think your analogies! So far you have compared gay people to foul language and explicit lyrics — those are not exactly positive images. The first example actually has the word “foul” in it. Yikes.

    The other problem with analogies like explicit CDs and foul language is that it is a fundamentally different situation when you are dealing with people. Slapping an explicit label on a CD isn’t the same as slapping a “Perhaps Something Unpalatable You Might Want to Avoid” label on a person. It just isn’t.

    P.S.
    Since you raise the issue of the religious/moral argument as a justification for being anti-gay, I feel I must point out that those exact arguments were brought up to defend those who believed it was right to treat minorities and women by a different ruleset than white men. Slavery, women’s subservience to men, you name it. Bible verses “proved” that interracial marriage was against God — these arguments were actually used in a court of law! If I had been born thirty years earlier, I would not have been allowed to marry my husband, and Roxanne would have been considered some kind of abomination. Just goes to show what a difference a few years can make. But I digress.

    P.P.S. Hahaha I don’t expect BioWare to start doing pro-LGBT campaigning either. Nor do I think they should, that might be weird. I do think entertainment has a larger role in changing views than you think, though. 🙂

  19. Carla, the choice IS yours and always will be. Not having a toggle button is not taking the choice out of the player’s hands, as you and other people seem to be saying.

  20. Having a toggle puts the choice IN my hands to choose which romance arc I want to see. That’s all I am saying. Just like it puts the choice in someone else’s hand to choose their romance arc.

  21. You have to implement 2 toggles to make it fair:

    1- No Heterosexual romance arcs.

    2- No Homosexual romance arcs.

    This is ridiculous from a development standpoint and no artist would ever submit to having his or her audience selectively remove large swaths of content based on their delicate sensibilities.

    “Dear Mr. Tolstoy,

    I have become aware of the fact that nearing the end of book 2 of “War and Peace” Pierre becomes a fat,misogynist and a Freemason. This makes me uncomfortable and so I am requesting that an alternate edition of the book be printed where he remains unmarried and the last we see of him is the scene where he talks about books with the idle rich at the Rostov’s party at the end of chapter 4.

    Love,
    Roxanne”

    The Roxanne who wrote that letter is an Art Criminal. Better she had thrown the book on a fire.

    Games may be the only medium with an audience who think they lay more claim to the material than those who created it. It’s bizarre.

  22. Just have one simple line:

    “Insert the number for the type of romance arc you wish to experience:_______
    1. Heterosexual romance arcs 2. Homosexual romance arcs”
    (or use those little bullets in most UIs)

    That is one toggle and shouldn’t be a major thing to insert in the UI. Sort of like “hide my helm”. Again, this is not about discrimination. Actually quite the opposite, it is giving everyone the right to choose the type of romance arc they want to participate in.

  23. Why not make the Heterosexual a light side choice, and the Homosexual a dark side choice. With the jedi having both being dark side. Ha Ha

  24. PS How do’s this look on the Humane race, that it is allright to kill, but it is not too have a same gender romance? I mean really think about it?

    Last i have know that if you kill somone you go to Jail, an if you have a same Homosexual life you just get called a freak from the main stream churches.

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