"Homosexuality" Restored To 'Star Wars: The Old Republic' Threads


Posted April 29, 2009 - By Jake Gaskill

BioWare logoBy now, you’ve probably heard about the hullabaloo caused by Bioware banning the words “homosexual,” “lesbian” and “gay,” and subsequently locking threads used to discuss said bannings, on their Star Wars: The Old Republic forums. Well, the situation has been addressed, the threads have been restored, the words unbanned, and Kotaku reports that BioWare has since issued the following apology:

"I would like to personally apologize to 'Elikal' [the original thread poster] and anyone I may have offended. My intention was not to demean anyone but simply to help promote a community that could discuss topics in a mature fashion. When I first built the word filter list, I added a variety of terms to the word filter that have been used numerous times in derogatory messaging. There were some words added to the filter that should not have been -- we corrected this today.
I apologize for the confusion that this has created but I would like to be clear that there was never any intent to limit discussion. That said, I have overstepped my boundaries in my original statement and I sincerely apologize for doing so."
The whole mess started when posters began pondering the possibilities of gay relationships in future BioWare Star Wars games. Given that Knights of the Old Republic lets players of both the sexes become romantically involved with the female character Juhani, and in light of the variety of possible sexual relationships in BioWare’s other mega-RPG, Mass Effect, this seems like a perfectly natural topic of conversation. Although, when the original forum thread was locked, the moderator’s defense was, "As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed." (See earlier reference to homosexual relationship in KotOR for the irony of this claim.)

Now, since the thread has been restored and the only people who were actually booted from the site were those people who used the forum in derogatory ways, I guess we should just chock the whole mess up to an unfortunate technological kneejerk reaction on BioWare’s part. I mean, I can understand wanting to prevent their forums from being weighed down by offensive and bigoted rantings and ravings. Then again, BioWare's “these terms do not exist in Star Wars” claim was just about the worst thing they could have said.

Let's just assume for a second that this claim were true (and there wasn’t evidence to contradict it), why wouldn’t people be allowed to talk about it? And what kind of precedent would that set if that justification became the forum’s official stance? “All references to Looney Tunes are hereby banned because Looney Tunes does not exist in Star Wars." That’s obviously a terrible example, but you see my point. If you started a thread dedicated to comparing Star Wars characters to Looney Tunes characters, I doubt that it would be banned, and that topic is far less “relevant” to the Star Wars universe than the idea of gay relationships, especially given the immensity and diversity of said universe.

Again, based on their apology, the bannings appear to have been just a precautionary measure on BioWare’s part. But it’s easy to understand why the reaction was so strong, and all of the questions raised by the incident obviously deserve acknowledgement.


"Homosexuality" Restored To 'Star Wars: The Old Republic' Threads


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