BioWare Locks Out Discussions of Gay Characters on SWTOR Forum

The video game industry continues to struggle with how it deals with issues surrounding the open discussion of homosexuality in its online venues.

In the latest flap, Eurogamer reports that a forum mod on BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic banned users from discussing potential gay character relationships in the upcoming game:

The threads have since been locked, and the words "homosexual", "lesbian" and "gay" are censored on the forum.

Even discussions of the ban are being locked. At the bottom of the thread "GLBT discrimination in forums?", community manager… wrote, "As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed."

It appears, however, that a thread entitled GLBT Discrimination in Forums? has been re-opened. A user named Elikal (forum avatar at left) writes:

I am grateful Bioware has opened the thread again, and allowed the words gay and lesbian now. Though I can’t hide that I am quite disappointed. Bioware games had always been about complex ethical questions, about vast, diverse realities, and as such I had never expect Bioware of all companies to be so… narrow in this question. I was a Bioware fan so long… it was really a shock to see the thread closed.

Thanks to all the supporters, and even those who in civilized words disagreed, since debating things is what makes a modern society work.

And, as GayGamer points out, there has been at least one gay character in the Star Wars gaming universe. That would be Juhani of Knights of the Old Republic:

If you choose to kill [Juhani], a female Jedi at the temple will lambaste you for murdering her beloved one—stating that she and Juhani spent many nights under the stars together. Later on Korriban, that female Jedi will confront you and attempt to murder you for the love of Juhani. If you choose to take the other approach and save Juhani… Later on, if your main character is female and you have opened up all coversation lines with Juhani through the game, Juhani will confes her love for your character…

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  1. HungryHungryHomer says:

    Agreed. Do you really have time to wonder about someone’s orientation when they’re coming at you swinging a lightsaber?

  2. sirdarkat says:

     Guys Im sorry Im just burnt out; I would post a little thing about Censorship but frankly I’m just tired; you know whatever there are no gays in lesbians in Star Wars fine whatever there are no gays in lesbians in Iran either and Luke didn’t make out with his sister.

  3. Tammej says:

     It doesn’t make sense to block the words gay, lesbian or even ‘homosexual’ so minors can’t see those words. If they’re old enough to read them, and curious enough to want to know what they mean, it’s already high time somebody told them the story about the bees and the flowers anyway.


    Besides, all this censorship was probably only pulled because the backlash would’ve been much much worse, and for good reason. So I don’t see why this kind of discussion should not be permitted on a game forum anyway. Or any forum that isn’t exclusive to kids. Heck, if KIDS wanna talk about this stuff on a forum, I say – let’em. All this fear about sexuality is so overblown, it seriously has reached a point where it’s unnatural and unhealthy in it’s own right … the other extreme.


    Now about STAR WARS and characters who want to be gay or lesbian … and I don’t care how many people want to actually roleplay gay or lesbian characters … but I hope they do it so that it doesn’t become like some places in Second Life.

  4. konrad_arflane says:

    It’s worth pointing out that the SWTOR forums are not part of Bioware’s forum "family" – ie. your Bioware username and password won’t work there. I assume they’re run by the publisher (EA?), which might explain the difference.

    Also of course, it seems it was just a single mod acting out of line.

  5. Gaming Observer says:

    Bad moderating.  He was clearly spanked.  Probably very hard.  Problem fixed.  You may now go about your day (and have lots of gay sex in the process).

  6. chadachada321 says:

    ….Fable II? Had gay/lesbian relationships in it. You could even cross-dress in it.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  7. Arell says:

    Yes, I think this might be the issue.  As I stated in another post, I post on the Dragon Age forums all the time, and we talk about homosexuality and sex from time to time.  The mods there not only allow it, but also join in.

  8. Arell says:

    This is very odd.  I frequent the Dragon Age: Origins forums, which is also Bioware.  And in the romance threads, we’ve not only talked at length about homosexuality in games, but the moderators themselves have joined in.  There are no restrictions on any of those words, either.  We also talk about sex in general quite a bit.  As long as we don’t get too graphic, they usually don’t care.

    So why would they get bent out of shape on the Old Republic forums?

  9. hellfire7885 says:

    Heh, actually, in roughly 90% of those cases, it’s just internet-tough-guy posturing. They spout it out ot feel all big and tough while knowing they can’t get their teeth knocked out for saying it.

  10. Pinworm says:

     they don’t do it because they hate gays, they do it because the INTERNET hates gays. Jesus, go to ANY youtube video comments, any forum, hell, even here, and all you see is arguing, cursing, hate, and all that good stuff. 


    They do it to avoid internet wars, not because they hate gays.

    Also; they lock any threads about males procreating with women. Keep this shit out of the game.

  11. Kajex says:

    You could add Prince Xizor and Guri to that list.

    Interspecies relationships, as well- Ibtisam (Calamarian) and Nrin Vakil (Quarran) nearly crossed that line. Dice Ibegon (Florn Lamproid) and Lak Sivrak (Shistavanen) are another 2 that outright married, leading to some pretty fucked-up questions.

  12. DeusPayne says:

    To be fair, one chick was an alien. So do we even know how their reproductive system works? Why have we never heard an alien say “you just had sex with my ear”?

  13. DeusPayne says:

    Sounds more like a power hungry homophobe who was given mod control. I hope he/she gets fired. How would anyone feel if when they went into a store talking with their friend about being gay, and some stock boy kicked you out of the store, and banned you from ever coming back claiming “we don’t have any homosexuality here.”

  14. GoodRobotUs says:

    A film about an old, bearded man obtaining a young slave boy and teaching him to call him Master?

    I think LGBT issues are the least of Star Wars’ worries 😉

  15. Edidid says:

    KOTOR, Jade Empire and Mass Effect all contain options for various amounts of homosexuality, but remember they were all before Bioware was bought out by EA…

  16. Icehawk says:

    This makes even less sense when you toss another Bioware title in the mix.  Anyone remember Jade Empire?  2 of the possible romance endings (of 4) were gay or lesbian. 

    I think the latest count had approximately 20% of the population being gay/lesbian (MUCH higher if you count in passingly Bi females) this is not an issue that can be danced around for long.   Ah well lets hear it for yet another knee jerk reaction. 

    Move along.  Nothing to see here.  Please move along. 

  17. OmegaWarrior says:

    The terms may not exist in Star Wars, but the relationships do;  Hell, KotOR had a sidequest about a woman who treated her droid like it was her husband.  They not only have homosexuals, but apparently, robosexuals.

  18. CarsAreScary says:

    I assumed homosexuality existed in the Star Wars universe but no one really cared because it seemed like a small concern compared to the constantly changing politics between the huge number of planets populated by advanced societies and alien species. When dealing with so many species with different customs, beliefs and possibly even different ways of mating it seems like homosexuality would be something many people wouldn’t really care that much about. Yes, I imagine some cultures would have taboos against it but Star Wars also has cultures like the Sand People who have taboos against pretty much everything.

  19. Austin_Lewis says:

    So wait.  A mod locked those words and that discussion, and somehow it’s bioware’s fault?  Bullshit.
    So the Mod’s a homophobe.  Not the first time that’s happened.  Doesn’t mean that Bioware endorses them.

  20. Kajex says:

    Medrit Vasur. That is all.

    The guy was Mandalorian, and he was STILL (canonically, out and out confirmed IN THE SOURCE) gay.

    Are they going to tell us now that sex doesn’t exist even AFTER looking at Slave Girl Leia?

    And how the HELL are they going to explain Hutt reproduction? (a species which happens to be hermaphroditic.)

    There’s an entire RACE of sentient alien beings which exists SOLELY to seek out and experience all manner of pleasure, most especially those of a physical nature. (Zeltrons) Several such beings almost don’t HAVE to hint at playing on both sides of the field.

    If Bioware expects to sell this game, they’re going to have to cut this crap out within a week and apologize. The game wasn’t looking good enough as it was from what I could see- but now they’re just trying keep me away from their product.

  21. Doctor Finger says:

    The actions of a single mod shouldn’t be an indicator of the way Bioware, EA or Lucasarts feels towards GLBTs.  It was stupid and ignorant, but Bioware seems to have done the right thing in the aftermath. 

    Senior News Editor –

  22. BluePariah says:

    We would also do well to remember that correlation is not causation. By this I mean, just because some Bioware forum mod decided to go on a witch hunt, doesn’t mean we can safely assume that Bioware as a whole (and SWTOR in general) are not going to contain GLBT content or are in anyway uncool with it.

    How many stories have we all heard about a forum mod going off the deep end. The fact that the thread was unlocked and Gay and Lesbian are once again unfiltered words, would seem to suggest that once the management staff got wind of it, they came down on the mod.

    And, as others have said, some of this may be coming the LA. What they will likely do – to avoid a marketing nightmare – is to ignore it and let the players do what they want in terms of their relationships. We are (sadly) not yet at a point where we can have GLBT aspects of a major game and not have it slapped with a bunch of ESRB nonsense and a non-sale (read: market killer) at Wal-Mart.

    Also, when you are trying to market a new game, you want the hype o be all about the cool features, not about the fact that its allowing GLBT relationships. They’re managing the brand very well, they just need to manage their forum mods a little better.

    Bottom Line: The actions of one forum mod in no way indicate a matter of policy on behalf of Bioware or LA.


  23. says:

    I absolutely could not let this go by without a comment.  While Mercedes Lackey had "good" intentions with her main character Vanyel in the Last Herald Mage series, she (in my opinion) did absolutely nothing that was new or enlightening.  There are numerous, numerous horrifying problems (which I will not go into here) with Lackey’s representation of gay men, or what it means to be a gay person, so for the love of God let’s not use her as some kind of sign post or put her on an undiserved pedestal about how to handle gay content.

    To the question at hand:  This problems seems to keep returning in one form or another.  For myself the issue comes with the message that a ban on discussion of GLBT content sends.  It gives weight to the (highly wrong and bigotted) idea that there is something wrong with gays and lesbians and therefore discussion about gays and lesbians is inappropriate.  The outcry after the forum threads were locked was valid and Bioware’s actions to alleviate the situation in response to the outcry was welcome.

    I have read many comments on this page that say something to the effect of "stop throwing it in our face."  To that, my response is that if we do not discuss GLBT issues, then the mode operandi, the standard practice (if you will), of companies will be to ignore a vastly under-represented (and wholly neccesary) group of people.  Gays and Lesbians don’t want to throw anything in anyone’s face.  What we, and those who support GLBT folk, would like is to be able to discuss issues that are important to us as openly as any straight person, and this would include having the right to ponder weather gay and lesbian relationships will be part of a game on a forum thread.

  24. tollwutig says:

     Yes in the Star Wars universe.  You don’t necessarily have to use the same words in a fantasy world, you can invient one, I guess my point is, BIOWARE should just take a hint from Mercedes Lackey and make up their own term(s) for it and be done with it.    Mercedes Lackey didn’t make a social statemetn when she made one of her legendary heros shaych.

  25. chadachada321 says:

    I’m not gay, and even think that homosexuality is slightly unnatural, and I still think that this is bullcrap on the part of Bioware to lock out discussion like that.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  26. 1AgainstTheWorld says:

    One thing that definitely DOES exist in Star Wars is kissing your own sister.  Is BioWare saying that’s more normal/natural than gayness?  Or is it okay as long as you don’t find out she’s your sister until the third one?

  27. RevenChrist says:

    LOL if gay does not exist in the star wars universe, why is the charactor Goran Bevinn in a relationship with another man in the books?  BioWare needs to loosen up

    "Who I am is not important… my message is"-Reven

  28. robotco says:

    "As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed." – lol.

    because everyone that’s going to be playing the game are clearly from the star wars universe and don’t exist in reality at all.

    wtf bioware.

  29. questionmark1987 says:

    I think one of the problems with this arguement (not saying YOUR WRONG, just my way of making a point) is that it’s automatically assumed because a gay character MIGHT appear in a game that it’s somehow making some broad social statement. If you pick up an RPG that’s full of couples walking through the street, it’s just scenery. If it’s a gay couple, it’s a social statement.

    This mentality stems from the idea that homosexuality is wrong and or unnatural and or uncommon. It’s actually fairly common and for those who are gay completely normal and natural. If we stopped making a big deal out of when we do see gay characters in a game developers might be able to include it as a part of the game’s general population. Making an issue of it being represented causes them to pause when they consider including gay characters, and that causes fans who want to see it in the game to feel like they aren’t being represented. It’s a double edged sword for the devs. If the subject comes up and they don’t include it, they get lambasted for being homophobic. If it does or doesn’t come up and they include it, they get lambasted for being perverted, sexual orientationist (word?) or some group claims they’re trying to corrupt society or make a social statement.

    Whether gay characters are involved in a game or not it should not be a big news worthy issue. The only way to make it less controversial and more mainstream is to stop making it so controversial.

  30. chadachada321 says:

    At the same time though, think about if a thread was started about how they could work negroes or *insert group here* into a star wars game. I personally would find a thread like that racist, because I find it stupid to have to *force* a group of people into the game.

    That said, I recognize that race is different than sexual orientation, and also have not read the thread in question and do not know to what degree the thread was acting like my given scenario.

    I’m just saying that a game doesn’t NEED to have gay or straight or any type of person in it, even if it is incredibly complex and social. To say, "well, we should make this guy gay, because that’ll somehow fit well with the series" is stupid, just like saying, "well, this guy has to be straight. Because it just is," or "he has to be white/black/brown/french/alien/whatever-else." Just make a good game with good characters, and everything else will just fall into place.

    There’s a line between saying "here’s a good character. he’s gay and has these attributes blah blah blah" and "here’s an established character, I think he should be gay because he looks like he’d be a good gay character." Again, I don’t know if the line has been crossed, but if it has, then I can understand to a degree where the mod was coming from, though I don’t necessarily agree with it.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  31. Alex says:

    Huh. Never heard that one.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  32. Monte says:

    No… it could have been, but wasn’t.

    We are not just talking about words like "gay", "Homo", and "Fag"… thing is, they even blocked the term "homosexual" which is probably the most politically correct and appropriate way to refer to such a person; not to mention that no 13 year old would use the term "homosexual" as opting for the shorter terms… especially since when a 13 year old uses such terms they are often using the words as a way as a generic insult, like calling them lame, and not as a way of stating the person’s sexual preferences.

    No, the banning of the word "homosexual" makes it crystal clear what those mods on the forums were trying to do, and that was to stop the talk about homosexuality.

  33. Austin_Lewis says:

    We trounced a few of those 13 year olds on L4D last night, and I JUST NOW got back home and turned on my xbox and have 30 messages from three of them calling me a fag. 

    Bitches, every last one.  Take your lumps and grow up.

  34. Stealthguy says:

    >_> You do mean in the Star Wars universe right? Because honestly I don’t think any of those 13 year olds need any more words to banter around with.

  35. tollwutig says:

     In all honesty,  the average 13 year old gamer is probably the reason that the words are blocked out on the forums which given the lingo used in forums and xbox live chats everywhere I can’t blame them too much.    Think EQ, DAOC, WoW etc  if Bioware is attempting to actually have an in character RPG they WILL have to filter such words or else the 13 year olds of the world will infest it with l33t ghey speak.  

    Now in reality they should work out a different term for homosexuality and make use of such a term.  This way discussion can take place in game while dissuading the 13 year mind set.



    *Note when I refer to 13 year olds I refer to those who seem to think like them who plague Xbox Live, and most MMOs on the market.


  36. The Hangd Man says:

    When they do that, I personally enjoy finding them, hunting them down some more, and then forwarding the messages to the MS complaints dept.

    As the heavy would say, "cry some more".


    I hate broccoli/ and think it totally sucks/ Why isn’t it meat?

  37. Tristram says:

    I think most companies are taking the "pretend it doesn’t exist" route.  This makes a sort of sense as there are people on all sides of the issue.  However, as game storylines become more complex I think GLBT gamers are starting to ache for some representation. 

  38. Stealthguy says:

    Ahhh, the immortal battle cry: Think of the children, won’t someone please think of the children.


    I understand your agrument from the view a of parent who either ignores gay people or would blush violently if ever they had to explain it to their kids. I mean, how awkward would that be. Then if they didn’t have The Talk then it’d be a double feature if the kids ask how they can do what mommy and daddy do in bed.


    Honestly, a ‘special edition’? It’d certainly be very special indeed. If killing another individual isn’t considered a "Heavy" idea dude, than nothing is. I’m sorry if this is getting warm but thoughts like that irritate me.

  39. Wormdundee says:

     I think you’re missing the point here. These threads were genuine discussions about the possible workings of gay relationships in the game and they were locked for no good reason. I don’t find any evidence that they were trying to force it into the game or something.

    The issue people are upset about here is not that there won’t be gay characters in the game, it’s the fact that even discussion about it is banned. The fact that words like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ were banned sends a pretty strong message (whether they intended to or not) that the very act of saying these word and in any way alluding to homosexuality is a bad thing to do.

    You don’t find it disgusting that discussion of a certain people group is banned on a forum? I suppose they hope that they will just go away if they ignore it. 

  40. Ratfunk says:

     Who knows what the collabaration is between LucasArts/Bioware and Lucas himself. Maybe, Lucas has decided that he didn’t want any GLBT issues in Star Wars and would probably make a "Special Edition" version of KotOR 1 without any of that in it…

    Jokes aside, there could be a number of reasons for this, and a lot of it could be from the fact that Star Wars is aiming at a much younger audience as of late. The Prequel Trilogy, the Clone Wars TV show… These don’t deal with any real "Heavy" issues (Besides oppresive governments/Facism).

    Stuff that is aimed at the older audience can probably get away with this, but this game is targetted at the largest group of people possible, and that includes small children (Which explains why they aren’t doing a standard MMO subscription model)

    But, honestly, does this really belong on game forums? What about Star Wars really brings up imagry of complex social issues? I really don’t think it is the places for it, but I could be wrong.

    P.S. I find it sad I have to do this in today’s society, but you do or you get flamed… I am in no way against GLBT… I don’t care one way or the other. I’m glad that more gay people are gaming (Despite the childness of most online gamers twords the subject) and even attended SOE game fair day in 2007 with two writters for gaygamer. Great Guys.

    That doesn’t mean I think that the issue needs to be forced in every aspect of life. There, I said it :p

  41. Alex says:

    If that last quote GP posted in the article is true, it looks like homosexuality has more representation in Star Wars than paper does.

    On an unrelated note, I find it funny how the Star Wars civilizations seem to have some curious gaps in their development. The general lack of paper/hardcopy is understandable given the level of technology, but it’s always puzzled me that the citizens of the Star Wars universe seem to have some kind of compulsive need to continually remind themselves that they’re living in a high-tech society, as evidenced by their techno-oriented twisting of common words, aphorisms and similes (i.e. watches and clocks being called chronometers, or phrases like "like a turbolaser through transparisteel," because apparently the Star Wars universe contains neither hot knives nor butter).

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  42. Charax says:

    I’m pretty sure the term "paper" doesn’t exist in Star Wars, does discussion of paper get your thread locked on the forum too? Is the "P-word" added to the word filter?

    The situation is ridiculous and the community manager obviously needs to do more research.

  43. Awol says:

    Ok sucks that its being handle in this fashion but I doubt Bioware is the one calling the shots here. Sounds like a LucasArts thing. Remember BioWare is developing this for LucasArts not the other way around if LA doesn’t like something guess what it doesn’t happen.

    From what I remember in other BioWare games sex of the character didn’t matter in relationships.

    — Jay Clark President of the Washington D.C. Area ECA Chapter

  44. Ashkihyena says:

    Funny, I seem to recall sort of a lesbian thing going on in KOTOR once, maybe BioWare forgot about that…which was pointed out right in the article.  *smacks head* duh, but obviously BioWare ignored that and would probably lock any topic on it.

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