Weekend Reading: Gender, Virtual Romance and the Real World

Gamers should separate their identities from each other

In the middle of January many angry Star Wars fans reacted to the announcement that the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion would add same-gender relationships to Star Wars: The Old Republic by asking the development team at BioWare to revert the MMO to its previous state.

They claimed that the move was ruining Star Wars as a property and would lead many players to drop the game and find some other virtual experience to enjoy, presumably one that did not involve any same-gender content.

Let’s consider the facts: the Star Wars MMO is an entirely virtual experience, the relationships that trouble some players can happen just on one planet that’s walled off from the rest of the game, tolerance is one of the values that mostly defines the real-world society we live in.

Star Wars was arguably ruined years ago when Lucas himself chose to create prequels that failed to deliver the same quality as the original trilogy.

The Old Republic is set a few thousand years before those stories and mostly involves new characters and settings, even if the themes are the same.

Same-gender relationships in a virtual space have no impact on the real-world existence of players who are not involved in one.

But their presence might offer a chance for a number of gamers to find new ways of expressing themselves, of exploring their own identities and ideas, something that they might be unable to do otherwise.

Most of us choose video games as hobby because of the freedom it offers to explore new worlds and to experience things that we could never have access to during our lives.

It does not make sense to want this freedom for ourselves while denying it to other players, even if the freedom in question might be offensive to use in some small way.

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