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"I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader?"

Bit of a tempest in the nascent Star Wars: Old Republic community boards today, when a player discovered that such words as “gay”, “lesbian” and “cryptofascist” were added to the obscenity filter. The forums nerd raged about this until the Bioware CM, Sean Dahlberg posted that the words were being filtered because

As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars.

 

Thread closed.

The fine, fine moderate journalists at Kotaku thus immediately posted a story with the words “BIOWARE: THERE ARE NO GAYS IN STAR WARS” which caused the nerd rage to explode into a fury of POLITICAL nerd rage, ending only with Dahlberg apologizing directly to the player making the original post.

 

Well, isn’t that special. My take on all this:

  • This isn’t a tempest in a teapot, it’s a tempest in a thimble that may someday, possibly, hold a tea leaf. The “community” for SW:TOR doesn’t have a lot of actual game to discuss, so they talk about things like, oh, the political implication of words in your censor file. This is a pretty powerful argument that there’s no real reason to, you know, host forums for a game that is years from actually technically existing. The rabid fans who want to discuss their own personal views of how SW:TOR will implement womprat husbandry can do so on someone else’s dime. Kotaku wouldn’t have cared less if IGN added “lesbian” to their autocensor filter.
  • But say TOR was actually in beta, or up and running. My initial reaction is that there’s a suite of topics, mostly involving politics, religion, and the various convergences thereof, that simply aren’t appropriate for an official MMO discussion board. There are many topics that you just simply don’t want to worry about moderating. An intelligent moderation is key here – discussing LGBT-friendly guilds and issues raised from that (mostly involving 12 year olds saying “ghey” a lot) is on topic. Discussing your views on California’s Proposition 8 isn’t.  Real world politics is not a morass you want to dive into, because people with very valid opinions that differ violently from yours are still your paying customers. Note: simply adding words like “lesbian”, “gay”, “mormon” and “Arlen Spector” to your autocensor file does not count as  intelligent moderation.
  • Gay marraige is a third rail at the moment. The folks at Turbine (who have tended to be fairly liberal politically) punted on the issue for LOTRO by simply saying that it didn’t work with the license. Blizzard has been fairly conservative on the issue, to much distress. (Ironically, one of the guild names listed in that story as protesting Blizzard’s actions is a crystal clear TOS violation, or would be if anyone at Blizzard knew what it meant. Hint: it’s not Stonewall Champions!)  There is no good answer here. If you disallow same-sex marraige, you piss off a solid minority of your player base. If you allow same-sex marriage, you piss off a solid minority of your player base. If you disallow ANY marriage, you piss off a solid majority of your player base. So really, just do what you feel is right, since there’s no right answer here. I tend to the Sims solution – just let the players do what they want, and be completely agnostic about it. Which – not surprisingly – will piss off a solid minority of your player base.
  • You guys DO know Alec Guiness was bisexual, right?
  • Sanya Weathers thinks the issue is a bit simpler.

In case you’re wondering, I think that banning any kind of virtual relationship between avatars makes you look like a reactionary monkey. I also think that most in game relationships are between people who are male in the physical world. Finally, I think that if the Jedi council were real, they would think this entire discussion is for mental midgets without any awareness or comprehension of the serious issues endangering the citizens of the galaxy.

The REAL question of course, is which way Boba Fett swings. Because, you know, which ever way he does? That way is correct.