Anti-Aliased: Even virtual relationships are hot button issues

Seraphina Brennan
S. Brennan|04.02.10

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Anti-Aliased: Even virtual relationships are hot button issues
Before I even begin this column, I need to give a shout out to Interitus. This week's topic was inspired by an e-mail he recently sent me, regarding the ongoing debate on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums with their "romance" story arcs. So, thanks Interitus for the idea!

So, to recap for everyone before we dive into the discussion for the week, here's the deal -- Star Wars: The Old Republic will let you romance your companion NPCs much like Mass Effect. Using dialogue options, you can form a romantic relationship with your chosen follower. However, BioWare has neglected to state how far this system will extend. All we know is that only you'll be able to see your romance storylines and there won't be any explicit sex. Star Wars is all about understated sexual tension, AKA Han Solo and Princess Leia.

So what about romances between two characters of the same-sex, like Mass Effect? Well, we're not too sure about that at the moment. BioWare has said nothing confirming or denying their existence. And, because gay romance is a huge hot button issue, the SWTOR forums are aflame regarding the addition of same-sex romances.

Should we include same-sex romances? Are they appropriate for the Star Wars universe? Are they appropriate for the target audience? Well come along everyone, and let's discuss.
A nod to the other side of the argument

People who are against same gender romance arcs (SGRAs, from here on out) have many different reasons why they're against it. Some don't want it in because it's something they don't think BioWare should put development time towards, others don't want their children to find this type of content, some people don't think it's appropriate for Star Wars, and others just find homosexuality immoral.

"Some people just aren't comfortable with homosexuality, for whatever reason. I can't ask you to infringe on your ideals."

Taking all of those things into consideration, let me open this entire discussion up with the following: "I understand where you're coming from." Some people just aren't comfortable with homosexuality, for whatever reason. I can't ask you to infringe on your ideals.

But, I believe that if SGRAs were added to The Old Republic, they would not be something that would upset your play in anyway, if you chose not to engage with that part of the game.

Like all romance, it's optional and out-of-sight

Right off the bat, romance in BioWare games is optional. If you don't select the right conversation starters (which are usually pretty apparent in the dialogue wheel) you're not going to even be lead into the romance portion of the game. Your characters will stick together as friends on a mission, and that's that.

Taking this notion a step further, you only engage in a romance with the characters you want to romance. I say this because many people on the forums suggested a "lock out" feature to remove the homosexual content from the game, if the user doesn't want to see it. Personally, I think the best "lock out" option is to simply not engage with the content. It's there, it's optional, and no one is forcing you to walk down that path. Furthermore, because all romance arcs are only visible to you, you're never going to see someone else's romance. So, if you were worried about seeing two guys kissing next to the Jedi Temple or having one of your companions make a vicious advance on your person, you need not worry.

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