I have a couple of things up on my chopping block today. The Star Wars controversy has given gamers and the press a lot to talk about in the last week, so I figured I would just add some fuel for discussion. Vin Diesel can no longer hide his true nerd identity, and I have a new found respect for him. And rumors of a UMD-less PSP (after the Onlive announcement) scares the crap out of me.
Taking a gander at Penny-Arcade the other day, I noticed that Tycho was covering something rather interesting. In a Star Wars forum the terms “gay,” “homosexual,” and “lesbian,” were being censored after a thread began discussing the possibility of gay relationships. The thread was then closed down and after other threads began speculating the reasons for this community manager Sean Dahlberg offered a retort that was more scathing than informative.
“As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed.”
While his intentions may have been to keep visceral real-world topics from creating controversy, he inadvertently created some through his response. It’s my belief that fantasy universes are extrapolated more by the fans than any author or video game, a refuge for the imagination. Not only did he speak out against Star Wars canon, but he essentially played God by removing something that has already been established in the universe. His comment wasn’t meant to be inflammatory and he has apologized, and hopefully anyone that was hurt by it understands his true intentions. However, this opens up an avenue for discussion.
Is the mainstream video game market ready for openly homosexual relationships? I know that KOTOR had Juhani and Mass Effect had Liara, but they were never really open. You couldn’t progress Juhani’s romance any further and Liara’s was explained through the whole she is an alien thing. While I would love to see video games tackle this openly, I don’t see publishers and distributors risking their profit to make a point, because there are gamers that are willing to use the terms gay, lesbian, and homosexual, as negative tools.
Hell, I watch my girlfriend play a game online, and once everyone realizes she is of the opposite sex, the flaming begins. I can only imagine the backdraft when it comes to sexual orientation. However, the only way to cure this ignorance is to expose it to open air. If you filter those words (even to prevent negative usage) merit is given to the player that lashes out against it, because banning them outright, on the surface, brings negative connotation to the word itself, not just how it is used.
So, the publishers and developers are stuck in a catch-22. If they allow openly homosexual relationships in their games, they possibly create a negative gaming environment for both hetero and homosexual players. However, once gamers discover that homosexual relationships aren’t allowed, a negative environment could be born from protests and support for it’s ban. It’s quite the conundrum and a resolution, sadly, isn’t over the horizon. I ask you readers…what would you do? Personally, I would allow characters in an MMO to participate in homosexual marriage, because the game is focusing more on companionship rather than intercourse.
Time for Vin Diesel! Vin is one of my new favorite actors, not because of his movies, but because he isn’t afraid to admit that, at his core, he is a gamer. The man has played D&D for over twenty years, owns a video game development studio, and is just plain excited about video games. Check out this video and look at how excited he gets just talking about D&D.
Vin, if you read this, I salute you for sticking to what you love, and even if Hollywood changed you, your excitement and love for your hobby fills me with the utmost glee. Not because you look like the antithesis of a nerd or because of your success, but because no matter what happens to people in their futures, it’s still possible to stay true to who you are and what you love. Keep doing what you are doing!
Last but not least, the era of digital distribution. The rumors swirling amidst the new PSP are giving me the chills. I know that games evolve with technology, but that doesn’t mean you need to take our boxes! There is nothing more satisfying than coming home from a long day of work, and glancing over at my beloved shelf, knowing, that somewhere in there is an escape. Or going to your local Gamestop and badgering the employees looking for a mint condition copy of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.
I almost don’t want to buy Patapon 2 because I want that little UMD! I would be willing to accept this if it were to bring down the price of portable games (Patapon 2 is only $19.99, but so was Locoroco 2 and it had a case and UMD), but I don’t see the big boys adopting this for mainstream titles anytime soon, so don’t expect their prices to drop. Perhaps the big three will adopt something similar to Onlive in the next five years? Until then…give me my boxes!
This Sunday Soapbox is purely a reflection of the author’s opinions and in no way reflects the opinions of Gamer Limit and its constituents.