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Bioware Will Allow Same-Sex Romances in Star Wars: The Old Republic… After Launch

So here’s the order of events: Bioware announces a Star Wars MMO. Bioware announces that each player will get NPC companions, much in the same way that “Han had Chewie, Luke had R2-D2 — even Jabba had the cackling monkey lizard Salacious B. Crumb,” and here, perhaps, is a place where Bioware maybe didn’t pick the best canonical examples to highlight, because the player can also romance some of their companions. Because this is Bioware.

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But unlike many other Bioware games, this time the romance was to be strictly boy, girl, boy, girl, with no option to vary the seating arrangement, so to speak. That is until yesterday, when an announcement was made on the SW:TOR forums that homosexuality will be patched into the game after launch.

And now we’re not sure whether to facepalm because it wasn’t included at launch or laugh with delight because we live in the future: where acceptance of homosexual relations can arrive via software patch.

From the post:

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.

The question remains: was this a forgotten consideration on the part of the SW:TOR team? Or actual programming difficulty? The companions available to a player vary by class, so that a Jedi Consular travels with Qyzen Fess, a Trandoshan male, and Nadia Grell, a female of a species either human with a lot of make up or unknown to this writer. If, indeed, the game was built from the ground up to support only heteromance, what are the options here for male Smuggler characters? Their only reported companion so far is a male Wookie. Or for the Jedi Knight class, whose only companion is a droid?

Oh, haha, I forgot, Jedi aren’t supposed to love.

But it begs the question: why would the game have been set up for only heteromance? Surely it would have been simpler to write code that doesn’t really care what gender the character is? On the other hand, I know very little about the ground level of game design and gender distinction is fairly pronounced in MMO visual design, so perhaps it must also be so elsewhere.

It appears that new companions will be a significant part of content updates, if the current small number of them is anything to go by, and there’s even a point at which this makes sense: some companions are only available at high levels, giving Bioware time to prepare the lower leveled portions of the game for launch and add higher level content later when the game actually has players to experience it.

In conclusion, there are some, I’m sure, who are wondering whether the launch straightness of TOR has anything to do with the canon of the Star Wars universe itself, to which I can only point you to the post written by Jerry Holkins (Tycho Brahe) to accompany the above comic from 2009. Back when a mod on the TOR forums said that the words “gay” and “lesbian” didn’t exist in the Star Wars universe as a way to explain why they were banned words (there’s more context to it than that, but I’ll let Tycho tell it), and opened up a giant can of cannon speculation.

But I digress: Gay: it comes in Patch 1.1 now.

(story via Massively, top pic via Penny Arcade.)

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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.

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