You'd imagine gaming would lead the way on more liberal values, but it's surprising still how rare LGBT characters are in games. The compromise tends to be Sims-like universal polysexuality, almost no characters deliberately written as anything other than straight, with rare exceptions. One such company that tends to recognise a same-sex relationship is BioWare, which makes the news that The Old Republic won't be supporting them a little surprising. It seems Star Wars might not have room for gays. However, in better news, we learn today that the realms of Skyrim will not only allow same-sex relationships, but also same-sex marriage.
The Star Wars: The Old Republic attitude is a peculiar one. Back in 2009, as Videogamer point out, a thread was started on the official TOR forums in which LGBT gamers asked why the words "gay" and "lesbian" were banned on the forum. Obviously such a move is usually to remove opportunities for abuse, although clearly has some rather more concerning connotations. This was not helped when BioWare employee Sean Dahlberg posted to the thread,
"As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars.
The thread was eventually re-opened and the words allowed. But it seems the attitude has not extended to the content of the game. The MMO's producer, Cory Butler, said on an (extremely embarrassing) episode of BioWare Pulse (which seems to have since been deleted by BioWare, but is still available to watch here, at around 3 minutes). When asked about the possibility of gay or lesbian relationships he replies very pointedly, "Same-gender relationships are not in Star Wars: The Old Republic."
With Dragon Age and Mass Effect both including same-sex coupling, it's clearly not an issue BioWare has across the board - in fact they're probably the most forward-thinking and inclusive developer out there. So you have to wonder what it is about Star Wars that means the same philosophy cannot be extended there.
But today Eurogamer brings the news that Skyrim is being far more open-minded. The game will include the ability to form relationships with certain characters, who can then becomes friends or lovers, and even marry you. Build a home and your partner will move in with you. And if that partner is the same sex as you, the game won't blink an eye. Bethesda's PR boss, Pete Hines, confirmed on Twitter that you can shack up with whomever you wish. Which presumably also introduces the complexity of cross-species relationships as well as sex.
Twitter user Jadis232 asked Hines,
"Nice interview! Is same sex marriage in Skyrim? I know the option to get married to ppl is in. The subject seems like hush hush."
"Not hush hush, just not making a huge deal out of it. You can marry anyone."
"Sorry, should clarify. Not any NPC, just mean any male or female. Doesn't matter what you're playing."