So, the Family Research Council and the Florida Family Association are upset that BioWare is adding an update to their “The Old Republic” MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. World of Warcraft and stuff like that). In a brief statement accompanying the FRC podcast, Tony Perkins lamented that “in a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!” This is, of course, a ridiculous statement. For one thing, BioWare’s “The Old Republic” takes place well before the rise of the Galactic Empire from the original films. Seriously, Tony, don’t pretend to be hip to nerd culture when you’re so clearly not.
The Florida Family Association, on the other hand, posted a more substantial load of nonsense. In this delightful little article, the FFA claims that the reason that you can’t actually find the massive opposition to the LGBT relationship options in TOR on the BioWare forums is that “BioWare banned them.” Oh noes! FFA later goes on to say that BioWare has admitted to banning the posts and deleting the accounts of opponents of the “gay agenda.” I don’t know if this is true or not. However, I suspect that those posts which were deleted on the BioWare forums weren’t deleted so much because they took issue with the inclusion of gay and lesbian relationship options, but rather because they were deemed offensive and/or bullying, and thus in violation of the terms of service. But who knows. Maybe BioWare is part of a vast liberal conspiracy to inject “social engineering” into “children’s games.”
Here are a few things that the FFA and FRC might want to consider when lodging their complaints with BioWare and trying to organize boycotts, though.
1. BioWare does not make children’s games. TOR is rated T for “teen,” for “Blood and gore, mild language, sexual themes, and violence.” It’s written right there on the website. BioWare’s other projects, the “Mass Effect” series and the “Dragon Age” series are both consistently rated M for “Mature,” for having the same “blood and gore, mild language, sexual themes, and violence” as TOR, but more so.
2. BioWare has already released games with options for LGBT relationships. “Mass Effect” had the option in the first game for the player, if playing as a female, to develop a relationship with Liara T’Soni, a female alien. In “Mass Effect 2,” if playing as a female protagonist, the player can choose to develop a relationship with Kelly, the protagonist’s personal assistant, Samara, a female warrior from the same species as Liara, Morinth, Samara’s daughter and nemesis, or Liara, if the player downloaded the expansion packs. (The player also has the option of various heterosexual relationships when playing as a female or male protagonist). As for “Mass Effect 3,” it has been confirmed that the player has both homosexual and heterosexual options for both protagonist gender options. Similarly, in “Dragon Age: Origins” and “Dragon Age 2,” the player can develop a homosexual or heterosexual romance while playing as a protagonist of either gender option. The point is, it’s not as though BioWare is compromising its principles by adding an LGBT update to “The Old Republic,” they’re just keeping up with player demands.
3. Sex sells for BioWare. The controversy generated by the “leaked” footage of Shepard and Liara’s sex scene gave “Mass Effect” a lot of free press, and sold them a lot of copies. It’s unlikely that the categories of “people who might enjoy space opera role playing games” and “people who won’t have anything to do with those icky, icky gays” have much overlap. The categories of “people who might enjoy space opera role playing games” and “people who would like to see two women make out” do have a lot of overlap, though. Setting aside the number of people who just want to see some PG-13 style nudity, BioWare is also catering to players’ desire to create their own Commander Shepard. Of the three available romance options in the first “Mass Effect,” appealed to different tastes. Ashley and Kaiden (who could be wooed by Male Shepard and Female Shepard, respectively) were both soldiers who had soft sides waiting to be discovered. Liara (who could be wooed by either Shepard) was kind, a little shy, and nurturing. While a little polarizing in their first attempt to create romance options, BioWare did a decent job of offering the player a “tough partner/tender partner” dichotomy. “Mass Effect 2″ further expanded the choice of romance options, giving the player a total of nine potential partners (“Mass Effect 3″ offers even more). A similar thing applies to “The Old Republic.” People who are so offended by the existence of homosexuality that they refuse to play any game that acknowledges it aren’t really BioWare’s target audience.
4. You don’t need to pursue romance options, gay or otherwise. On my first play through of “Mass Effect,” I didn’t try to woo anybody. The romance aspect of “Mass Effect” is entirely optional. If you want to chase the cute alien gypsy or the business-like marine, then you can. If you want to just focus on blowing up evil robots and nothing else, then you can do that too. Same goes for TOR. You don’t need to fool around with the hot green aliens if you don’t want to. Also, for all those players who do want to have an in-game relationship but don’t have any interest in any of the LGBT options, well, they can just pursue one of the hetero romance options. Nobody’s forcing you to look at the scary gayness.
5. They’re BioWare, and they do not give a shit. When “Mass Effect 3″ went on sale in North America, it sold 890,000 copies in one day. At $60 apiece. As of February 17, “The Old Republic” had 1.6 million players, and this is for a game that was released on December 20 of 2011. So, in two months, BioWare sold 1.6 million copies of “The Old Republic,” which sells for $60 for the normal version, $80 for the “Digital Deluxe” version, and $150 for the Collector’s Edition. Also, since “The Old Republic” is a high profile MMORPG, it charges a monthly subscription fee of $15 a month after the first month. Even assuming that people have only bought the normal version, BioWare is well on its way to being profitable, especially considering that the buyer can choose to just download the game after paying for it, instead of requesting a physical disk in a physical box. This isn’t even considering that people may have bought the more expensive versions, and that a lot of people have started paying for their play time.
In addition to all the new games that BioWare is releasing, most of their back catalog is available, as well. On the computer gaming platform “Steam,” you can buy “Knights of the Old Republic” for $10, “Mass Effect” for $20, “Mass Effect 2″ for $20 ($30 for the “Digital Deluxe” edition), “Dragon Age: Origins” for $20 ($30 for the “Ultimate Edition”), “Dragon Age: Origins: Awakening” for $20, and you can get “Dragon Age 2″ for $20 on EA’s proprietary game platform, “Origin.” At this point, selling the files for these games years after their official release dates is sending BioWare a whole lot of pure profit.
So, where am I going with all this talk of BioWare’s sales figures and product availability? I’m going here: BioWare is rich as all hell. When the FRC and FFA say “We’re very upset with your product, and are going to boycott it and write in to complain!” BioWare could not possibly care less.
Really, FRC and FFA, pick on someone your own size. I’m not saying that you’re bullying BioWare, mind you. You’re sure as hell trying to bully BioWare, but you’re having about as much success as a four year old trying to beat up Mike Tyson. As it stands, you seem even more pathetic and inconsequential than usual, and that’s saying a hell of a lot. Maybe it’s time you just pack up and go home.