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Creative Freedom, Gay Rights, Science Fiction and Video Games

April 6, 2012

Recently video games have become a new front-line in the culture wars:

EA has been inundated in recent weeks with whatGamesIndustry International understands to be “several thousand” letters and emails protesting the inclusion of same sex or LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) content in its video games, most notably Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic. When asked, EA confirmed that this has indeed been occurring, and unsurprisingly, EA has no plans to censor any of its games.

“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,” Jeff Brown, VP of corporate communications told us.

It is important to note that the game does not depict sex, but does allow romantic attainments. However it is also important to note that it is science fiction!

The video game, Star Wars – The Old Republic, is set in a time thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader. That particular detail of the the video game got me wondering what the theological justification is for getting upset about the relationship status of fictional extraterrestrials in far away galaxies in the distant past.

There is no Christian Bible in the Star Wars world. The characters aren’t humans. They’re extraterrestrials. If Darth Vader lived “a long time ago”, and the video game is set thousands of years before Darth Vader, that means that the characters in the video game lived long before the book of Leviticus, which right wing Christians cite as the source of the ban on homosexuality, was written. So, how can Christians object to the idea that somewhere on another planet, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, members of another species had same-gender sexual bonding habits?

Indeed! Science fiction does allow us to explore the cultures we have by creating reflections of them. Iain M Banks’s Culture novels examine a whole host of our morals though the sci-fi lens. Kenneth Branagh can cast a black actor as a Norse god, because the Marvel Thor is also science fiction (and even if it is not, why the heck not anyway? Creative freedom people!). Bioware make great games and I’m glad to see them concentrate on that and not some angry pressure group.

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