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10.16.2012 , 12:59 AM | #2368
Welcome to the Same-Gender Romance Arc (SGRA) Clarification Request thread!

First off, I'd like to thank the following posters for the continued input: Jenovan (who gave me permission to use her document and is responsible for much of the final product), Uluain, Tatile, MusedMoose, Lurkz, sparklecat, Zandilar, Captain_Zone, Suaine, JediElf, Kioma, and many many others. I'd also like to thank anyone that comes in and gives their support. If I didn't mention a name, I assure everyone wasn't a slight against them. Without the support and contributions by all the posters, neither this thread nor this FAQ would exist.

Secondly, I'd also like to give another another thank you to the moderators of this thread, who have been very patient with us and as forthcoming as they can be.

Please feel free to quote and link this at your leisure, just give credit where credit is due.

This thread’s main purpose is as a place to discuss implementation of SGRAs in SWTOR. While Bioware has committed to providing this content within 2012, the community still has many questions regarding how it will be done, and plenty of thoughts on possible solutions

1) Why do you have the quote from the moderators on page 1?(aka the T-word)

The thread is not a place for the discussion of whether SGRAs should be added to the game (again, Bioware has already committed to them), or of a SGRA “toggle” or other method of turning off this content. The OP poll is outdated and no longer relevant to this thread. On March 13, the following statement was released by the mods:

Quote: Originally Posted by Moitteva
Discussion of the implementation of toggles to filter same gender romance options is considered discriminatory language and is neither appropriate nor allowed on the forums. Posts along this vein of discussion will be removed.
The forum rules regarding these sorts of toggles came about after several months of discussion. Over time, the general consensus was that it wasn't needed, and it was agreed upon that it was discriminatory. The best filter a player can have is their own judgement. If a player doesn't wish to return a [Flirt], they can always pick a different option.

The following quote is by David Gaider, one of the former lead writers of Bioware, and he worked on the Dragon Age series. He also wrote HK-47, Jolee Bindo and Carth Onasi for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Quote: Originally Posted by David Gaider
The "rights" of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent "right" to get more options than anyone else.

2) Why are you concerned with this when the game needs work elsewhere?

There are multiple teams working on different aspects of the game at any given time. There would be one team for PvP, one for Ops/Hard Modes, one for story, one for game fixes, ect. This will not divide resources from other teams. And most of us do not demand this right now. The one thing we all have in common is our love of this game and we all want to see it as polished as possible. The SGR thread is for this particular aspect of the game.

While we should make no assumptions about why any player wants any feature -- everyone has the freedom to play for whatever reason they like -- here are several commonly cited reasons for which people request this content:

  • *Fairness -- there is already a great deal of heterosexual romance content in the game. Asexuality and celibacy are already part of the game, and it would be fair to offer the same opportunities for gay or bisexual characters.
  • *LGBT players would like the chance to play their in-game characters as “themselves.”
  • *Players of all stripes who enjoy roleplaying and storycraft would like to play different kinds of characters.
  • *Players who play characters opposite of their own gender would like to be able to flirt/romance NPCs also opposite their own gender.
  • *Some NPCs currently exhibit behavior that seems very much like same-gender flirting, but in the game as it is now, these leads go nowhere, disappointing players who thought they’d stumbled onto a romance.

3) Why did you buy a game knowing it didn't have your preferred choice of relationships?

Many players fully expected SGRAs to be a part of this game before launch, because of Bioware’s track record of offering such content before. Bioware stands firmly behind their choices to include this content, and in this interview from February 28th with Drs. Muzyka and Zeschuk (co-founders of Bioware) about SGRAs in Mass Effect 3 explains why.

(Muzyka) "It's the player's choice. It's a role-playing game."

"Yeah," Zeschuck followed, "It's a choice based on preferences."

"We let players take on a role and really immerse themselves on how they feel they want to be playing the game," said Muzyka. "Be true to that. Be true to your ideal of a game of choice."
"We are doing it as a service to our fans, because we think it's part of the expectation of a role-playing game," Muzyka said. "It's part of the expectation of a BioWare game because of the way our games have been for the last couple decades. We've had that kind of choice going way back to Baldur's Gate back in the 90's. It's been refined. We think it's a good thing to offer players. Choice is always a nice thing, when it works. When it's high-quality."

4) Has Bioware/EA changed their minds about including SGRs?

The short answer is no. As far as EA goes, The Sims have had SGR content since the first game, and it continues to do so to this day. When it comes to SGRs in The Old Republic, we do know that they’re coming, and that some thought is being put into doing them well.

The following statements were made in September 2011 by Stephen Reid, former Senior Online Community Manager for SWTOR.

Quote: Originally Posted by Stephen Reid
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.
Quote: Originally Posted by Stephen Reid
First of all, this is definitely not an audience that consists of a 'couple of people' and we're aware of that. We take this decision very seriously. Second, it's very important to realize that this is just one of many, many content additions that will be going into the game post launch. The vast majority of our content will be of interest to the vast majority of our potential audience.
However, one of the amazing things about MMOs is that over time we can get to add things that are exciting and interesting to smaller audiences. Normally, that's not something that's addressed too far ahead of time. In this case, we felt the addition was warranted and should be addressed early. There will be plenty of content for all to play and enjoy.
Quote: Originally Posted by Stephen Reid
We can't guarantee that a character you play at launch would have romance options 'unlocked' for an existing companion. It's something that will be taken into consideration when making design decisions. Not a promise it'll happen, but we'll take that feedback and relay it through to design. We fully intend to do justice to the story in our storylines. As you may have heard, we take story very seriously - this included.
This is a link to an early video talking about SGRs coming in ToR.

Here is the transcripts the PAX Q&As on Darth Hater with a mention about SGRs coming in The Old Republic:
Day One Day Two

This is another quote from Mr. Gaider regarding Bioware's stance on SGRA in their games in general:

Quote: Originally Posted by David Gaider
The romances in the game are not for "the straight male gamer". They're for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don't need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant... and that's ignoring the idea that they don't have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else.

Jeff Brown is EA's VP of corporate communications and in an interview from April 4th, he said the following statements regarding the inclusion of same gender content:

Quote: Originally Posted by Jeff Brown
Every one of EA's games includes ESRB content descriptors so it's hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content. This isn't about protecting children, it's about political harassment.
Quote: Originally Posted by Jeff Brown
EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games. However, we have met with LGBT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games.

5) Has EA's investors pressured the company to drop SGRs?

This is a concern that has come up from time to time in the thread. As a reponse, here's an article from October 15th explaining why this isn't so. The interview is from Ginger Maseda, EA's Global Talent Acquisition and Inclusion Leader.

Quote: Originally Posted by Ginger Maseda
"There have been no questions, comments or concerns raised from our investors with regards to support for LGBT initiatives in the community or having LGBT characters in our games," Maseda said, casting a net beyond DOMA and into the company's decisions to celebrate Pride Month and allow gay player characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic. "Essentially, it's been a non-issue from an investor perspective."

In summation, neither Electronic Arts nor their investors have any problem with SGRA content in The Old Republic and even come out to fully support it. While there are no player or non-player characters are LGBT currently in ToR, articles such as that show that there isn't any pressure from EA investors against SGRs.

6) Will I end up "tricked" into starting a same gender romance?

I'll just let Mr. Reid himself answer that question.

Quote: Originally Posted by Stephen Reid
Lastly for those of you who seem concerned that you will be 'tricked' into any romance arc in the game - all romance choices are clearly marked. You will be aware you're making those choices as you make them.

7) Has anyone heard of more updates and not just "Soon"?

This is a quote from the Guild Summit:

Quote: Originally Posted by Daniel Erickson
(The question, gathered from online submissions, was summed up as, "Is there any update on same gender romance?")

This is an interesting one because it sort of lit up, and we didn't honestly -- if we should give an update on it every single time -- We've always said the same thing with it, which is that it's coming, and it's coming with story updates. And we totally understand when people hear "soon", um, maybe I should have put the TM next to it that, "writer Soon"? The writers have a much, much larger lead time than you would expect, and we wanna do any of this stuff right. We heard suggestions, and we do read the stuff, and let's talk a little about the stuff we were not willing to do. We were not willing to go in and just change all the dialogue to work for the other gender. That is not writing. That is not good storytelling.
Here's a link to the Daniel Erickson quote from the Guild Summit. I'll post the video.

**Update 9/25 via youtube***

This is the video link to PvP developer Gabe Amatangelo's interview with a mention of SGRs.

**Update 9/25 via Twitter from Hall Hood, one of the lead writers for ToR: ***

Quote: Originally Posted by Hall Hood
(1/2)@StoleTarts Thanks, Megan. I know it's frustrating to wait for answers, but be assured we're not ignoring our SGR fans.
Quote: Originally Posted by Hall Hood
(2)(2 of 2) When I can share more information, I will let you know. Writing romances is one of my favorite things about working on SWTOR. :-)

It appears that it is coming with the new story content. Currently that appears to be with the Makeb patch but that has not been confirmed. Other than that, we have no new information at this time. This FAQ will continue to be updated as news becomes available.

8) Why wasn't SGR in at launch?

Take it away again Mr Erickson!

When we do this, we wanna do it right, we wanna do it with the characters that make sense, that we always knew that we wanted to do it for those, so you guys know and we've talked about it before, it ended up being a budget and scheduling issue. There are romance arcs that we wanted to do that didn't make it in the game, we knew which characters (I'm not gonna tell you)... [some audience joking about characters] So the short answer is, it's never changed, it's still coming, it's coming when full story comes, and when is full story coming? This year. So we are still on track.

9) Isn't George Lucas opposed to SGR content?

First of all, Lucas actively supports full marriage equality for same-sex couples. His position and his personal $50,000 contribution to opposing Prop. 8, the California referendum that took away the right of same-sex couples to marry, is a matter of public record. For reference, Mr. Lucas' contribution is the sixth one from the top. With that, there is no reason to think George Lucas would object to same-gender romance in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Furthermore, if the original owner of the IP(in this case Lucas) says no to something, it stays that way. A company can not use an IP and say, "Yes, X will be there. No doubt, it's being worked on" if the original owner said it wasn’t going to happen. This simply becomes a bad business move. It's detrimental to lie about something like that. Especially to customers and even more so to investors. Not to mention that would make said company liable for a lawsuit. In short, if Lucas didn't approve, they would have never started talking about SGRs in any of the Star Wars Bioware games the first place. Besides, there is already a precedent for this content in the Star Wars Extended Universe. Which leads me to the next question...

10) Is SGR even canonically in Star Wars?

Yes! There are plenty of examples of SGRs in the Star Wars IP. In the games, it began with original Knights of the Old Republic in 2003, with the companion Juhani, who would only romance female Revans. There was also a same gender romance in the books as well, with Goran Beviin, who's husband was Medrit Vasur. Goran was first featured in the e-book Boba Fett: A Practical Man. The two of them were later fully realized in the book Sacrifice, both of which were by created by author Karen Traviss. They are officially recognized as canon by Lucasarts.

11) Wouldn't extra flirt options take away from dialogue options from the wheel?

A very popular suggestion is to move all [Flirt] dialogues onto the left side of the wheel. I suspect that Bioware has already considered that eventuality and are planning for it. I personally don’t believe that the developers will take away options just for SGR content.

12) Is this going to be like DA2?(aka everyone is bi/"herosexuality")

The developers, at the Guild Summit, stated that they have known from the beginning who was going to be available for SGRs. No more information has been given at the time of this writing, so we enjoy speculating about whom may be available when the SGR patch drops.

13) Is this going to be "pay for gay" and/or only available as an expansion?

This is a tricky one to answer, simply because there is no official information at this time. However, some of the posters have tried their hand to answer this question. Thanks to MusedMoose for the great answer below!

Quote: Originally Posted by MusedMoose
I think the confusion here - which tends to persist - is the term "future expansion content" was used when someone from BioWare first talked about when SGRs would be added. Too many people latched onto the word 'expansion' and assumed 'expansion pack', not realizing that "future expansion content" pretty much means anything that adds new content to the game. Besides, we've been told that SGRs will be coming with new story content this year, and less than a year is far, far too short of a time for a game like this to have an expansion pack like other MMOs have.

I'd also like to think that BioWare is aware of how having to pay extra to get SGR content would be perceived, and would not like to deal with that controversy. I don't think anyone's against paying for a full expansion that raises the level cap and provides tons of new content, though.

14) Shouldn't the game be rated "M" or "18+ PEGI" if it has SGRAs coming?

Here in the US, ESRB rates romantic or intimate content by degree of explicitness. What we have in SWTOR is within what is rated as T, and the rating is not affected in any way by whether it is same-gender or opposite-gender content. Why would it be? It's imaginary characters displaying non-explicit affection. Here's the official statement:

Quote: Originally Posted by ESRB
Thank you for contacting the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). We sincerely appreciate your taking the time to write.

The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns age and content ratings for video games and mobile apps so parents can make informed choices as to which are suitable for their children and family. As part of its self-regulatory role for the video game industry, the ESRB also enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices among companies participating in its Privacy Online program.

We understand that sexual themes have the potential to be of concern to consumers, which is why all such content must be disclosed during the rating process. In specific regard to your question, ESRB’s ratings criteria do not distinguish between heterosexual and same-sex content when it comes to addressing sexuality in games.

We hope this information is helpful, and thank you again for writing.

Best regards,
Entertainment Software Rating Board
The Pan European Game Information rating system is quite similar to the one used in the US by the ESRB. According to the PEGI, this game is rated 16+ for realistic looking violence, with sexuality not even mentioned. For more information about PEGI, check out their website here and check here for all PEGI ratings related to the Old Republic line of games.

15) Are SGRAs going to be scrapped due to the departure of various personnel at BioWare Austin?

At this point in time we have no reason to assume the departure of the people quoted in this FAQ has changed any information listed above. So far, the moderators and developers have both reassured the players that SGRs have not been scrapped.

16) Isn't Disney opposed to same sex marriage?

To begin with, Disney currently offers benefits for same sex couples and has for years.
This is from the official website.

Disney is committed to the total well-being — physical, emotional and financial — of our employees and cast members. Disney Healthy Pursuits is the collection of benefits and wellness programs we offer our employees to support them in their pursuits of a healthier life. In 2009, as part of Disney Healthy Pursuits, we launched a new Wellness Rewards Program. Employees who participate are eligible for financial incentives in return for making healthy choices. Currently, the Wellness Rewards Program is part of a multi-year approach to recognize employees who are taking healthy steps and getting results. Employees can earn up to $300 (or double if their spouse or same-sex domestic partner also participates) to help offset their healthcare costs. As of November 30, 2010, 54% of eligible employees had completed the Personal Health Assessment required to qualify for the program.

One of Disney’s foundational values is to respect, appreciate and value everyone. In keeping with this philosophy, same-sex domestic partners are considered dependents and are eligible for benefits.

Recently, same sex marriages started to be performed at Tokyo Disney, with a relevant part to the US.

In the U.S., same-sex couples have been allowed to hold commitment ceremonies at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in Southern California for years.
And although Disney had previously limited its pricey "Fairy Tale Wedding" package -- which includes a ceremony at one of the parks' marriage pavilions, costumed characters at the reception, and a ride in a horse-drawn, glass-enclosed carriage through the Disney property -- to couples with valid marriage licenses, the company changed its policy in April 2007 to include couples entering civil partnerships after an inquiry from a gay guest.
According to The Washington Post, gay couples can take advantage of the "Fairy Tale Wedding" package at Disney's U.S. theme parks and aboard its cruise ships, even if the ceremony is not technically legal.
There is no reason to believe that SGRs in The Old Republic will be cut because of Disney's viewpoint.

**What We Still Need Answered**

These are some of the questions in the thread that the posters would like an answer to. If any of these get responded to, the FAQ will be updated to reflect that. Our goal is to have answers to these questions addressed with more concrete responses from the developers.

  • Will any current companions be available for same-gender romance?
  • If so, which?
  • If current companions are made available, will the new romantic content be available to players who have already completed existing story content with their companions without needing to roll a new character?
  • Will same-gender content require and additional purchase, such as a legacy unlock, in-game credit expense or real-world currency through the Cartel shop?
  • Will we ever see same-gender content beyond companion characters as [Flirt] prompts with various world or class story mission NPCs, such as currently exist as opposite-gender options?
  • Will there be same-gender romances available to all classes and all genders?
  • If so, how many?

I hope this covers most of the common questions that new posters have in this thread. This is no means a complete list. Answers will be updated as new information has been released. The main things we strive for in the thread is constructive and respectful conversation. Feel free to be silly or be serious, but always be respectful for the choices of others. Again, thanks to all the posters of this thread!

**Update 10/15. It appears to be coming in a story update along with the new planet Makeb. Currently, that appears to be patch 1.7. That does not necessarily mean that a player will have to reach max level in order to access SGR content. That is unknown at this time, but highly unlikely.***

FAQ History

Version 1.0 3/22/2012

Version 1.1 9/25/2012

*added Gabe Amatangelo's video clip about SGRs
*added Hall Hood's Tweets
*added list of What We Still Need to Know
*added information regarding Lucas' contribution against Prop 8
*added interview by Jeff Brown

Version 1.2 10/15/2012

*added information about the ESRB and the PEGI
*added a link to Lucas' contributions against Prop 8
*added questions #5, #14, and #15
*added a possible patch number for Makeb
*added article and quotes from Ginger Maseda

[U]Version 1.3[i] 12/22/2012

*added information about Disney