No Marriage Equality in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

The logo for Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn.

The logo for Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn.

The upcoming MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which has been in beta testing, was looking promising.  The game has been getting positive reviews and folks have generally been having fun.  I had been meaning to write a positive review of the game and community.  Folks on my server, Balmung, are generally friendly and I met anyone obnoxious, offensive, or hateful (yet!).  I was also delighted to find that the character design doesn’t seem to just be pandering to straight men.  Body types could be more diverse, but at least the female characters don’t look like pin-up girls in floss for armor.  I am excited to play a seven-foot-tall, muscular warrior woman:

Lake Desire's FFXIV character, a tall roegadyn woman with short, red hair.  She leans into battle, holding a sword and shield, with fire behind her.

Lake Desire’s FFXIV character, a tall roegadyn woman with short, red hair. She leans into battle, holding a sword and shield, with fire behind her.

Some of the armor that is skimpy on female characters is even skimpy on male characters, such as the infamous subligar armor:

Male Miqo'te in a Subligar. Source: redcloud16.tumblr.com/

Male Miqo’te in a Subligar.  He is a blue-haired, light-skinned guy with blue-hair and armor that reveals his abs, chest, and thighs. Source: redcloud16.tumblr.com

Some straight male players complain about their avatar in a speedo and don’t see the irony!

So, despite a lot to be excited about, there is a big problem with FFXIV so far: homophobia.

Those of us planning to role-play have been researching the game’s lore in preparation for launch on August 27.  One big question is: what are the in-character views on homosexuality?  For those of us playing gay and bisexual characters, should we plan on stories dealing with being a sexual minority in a homophobic world, or should we expect sexual orientation is no big deal?

Well, according to the development team, most Eorzeans don’t really care what your sexual orientation is:

In general, how open-minded is the average Eorzean? (ex. Accept same-sex couples? Those who do not believe in the Twelve?)

Answer: Though many of the races experienced rocky pasts, currently, tolerance is, for the most part, the norm in Eorzea. The main reason behind this being that the region is a veritable melting pot of races who have worked together throughout recent history to survive the hardships thrust upon them. This does not mean that there are do not exist groups which are significantly more closed-minded. For example, while Gridania and Limsa Lominsa are fairly open about having dealings with the some of the more amicable beast tribes (such as the sylphs, goblins, and Qiqirn), the sultanate of Ul’dah are wary of the tribes, in part due to their prolonged conflict with the Amalj’aa.

OK, so some characters might be homophobic, but most don’t think anything of someone’s sexual orientation.  Then, what doesn’t make sense is the in-game policy on marriage:

Q: Will it be possible to get married? Also, will same-sex marriages be possible?

A: [...]

As for same-sex marriage, this is an extremely controversial topic that has been under discussion in the MMO world for the past few years. First we would like to start out with opposite-sex marriage, and then consider the feedback from our players in order to make a careful decision.I can’t say whether or not it will be possible at this point in time. I’d like to keep dialog open with our players as we deliberate the matter.

Now I am personally not that excited about marriage because of its patriarchal and heteronormative baggage.  I probably wouldn’t want to get married in an MMORPG.  But if we’re going to have marriage, I don’t want to exclude anyone from it.  For me, it doesn’t really make sense that a world where most people don’t care about sexual orientation would ban same-gender marriage.  A member of the Hydaelan Role-Players Coalition pointed this out on the beta-testing forums and was banned for “discrimination”They received this message from Square Enix and reposted it:

Thread Title:
Arguments For Marriage Equality in Eorzea

Relevant sections from the FINAL FANTASY XIV Guidelines:
Posting aimed to create a negative impact on the community or its members.
Posting that constitutes discrimination against another forum member or group (also including forming groups for the purpose of discrimination), insults, slander, libel, harassment of a group or individual.
Posting spam, including meaningless characters and white space.

Original Post:
Recently it was announced that marriage would be a feature within Final Fantasy 14 ARR. The system as of now, is planned to be for opposite gendered couples only, with the possibility of same gendered marriages being implemented based on player feedback. I argue that waiting for this feedback is, statistically speaking, a complete waste of time. The numbers already exist to indicate that the players of the afore mentioned game approve of same sex marriage by a wide margin. Let’s consider the following, using the United States, a traditionally conservative country, as a model.

- Among millennials (people born after 1980), support for same sex marriage is over 70%

- Among people born after 1965, support for same sex marriage is over 50%

- According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2013 data, the average age of video game players is 30, with 64% of all players falling in the millennial category.

These numbers alone show that a good majority of video game players (if not a substantial majority), support same sex marriage. Assuming that Final Fantasy 14 players fall within the “video game players” demographic, it’s quite easy to see in advance that support among the player base would be high.

Square Enix is running a business though, and I understand that. After the debacle that was the initial release of Final Fantasy 14, and all the hard work they’ve put in to revitalizing the game, I can understand that they don’t want any niggling distractions to keep any potential players away. Fortunately, there are real world examples to show that SE shouldn’t be afraid to implement same sex marriage.

First, let’s look at the Old Republic. Bioware has a history of offering same sex relationships in their game, and well before their game launched, they stated that they intended to continue that tradition within the Old Republic. The usual suspects came out in protest, the American Family Association, One Million Moms, ect. (people who don’t play video games in any real numbers by the way), but Bioware was warmly received by the video game community. When the game launched, they had over 1 million subscribers within the first 3 days. The game ultimately took a tumble in the numbers, but that can in no way be attributed to the same sex marriage “controversy”.

Next let’s look at Trion’s game RIFT. In one of the game’s post launch patches, they implemented a marriage system without gender restrictions. There was no controversy, there was no fall out, but they did set the record for most marriages in a video game in a single day when the patch went live.

Historically, video game developers who have taken the bold step of supporting equality have been rewarded for their bravery by the good will of their player bases. There will always be detractors, but support for the issue among gamers has been rock solid, and support grows with every new poll. As someone who first realized he was gay thanks to your video games (Kuja you naughty thing), I humbly ask that you consider my arguments in deciding on the fate of marriage equality in Eorzea.

The suspension will last a minimum of 240 hours starting 08-10-2013 23:50 (PDT) during which time you will be unable to log in to the FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Tester Forum.

For information on prohibited activities in the FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Tester Forum, please refer to the Square Enix Account Terms of Use, FINAL FANTASY XIV User Agreement, and the FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Tester Forum Guidelines.

NOTE:

Please be aware that during the suspension, we will review the case and determine if you are eligible to use the forums in the future. Depending on the situation, we may decide to take further action by terminating your access to the FINAL FANTASY XI Forum and/or FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Tester Forum.

In addition, actions taken against an account are accumulative. If you persist in violating the FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Test User Agreement, we may terminate your access to the FINAL FANTASY XI Forum and/or FINAL FANTASY XIV Forum. We therefore ask that you do not repeat this behavior, and that you review the FINAL FANTASY XIV Forum Guidelines.
http://support.na.square-enix.com/rule.p…=betaforum

If you suspect the violation resulted from unauthorized access to the account or the actions of an unauthorized third party who is not your parent or legal guardian, or if there are other points you wish to clarify, please review the following information on the SQUARE ENIX Support Center.
http://support.na.square-enix.com/faqart…&kid=57402

This message has been sent to you for notification purposes only, and we are unable to address further inquires via replies to this email. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, we ask that you visit the SQUARE ENIX Support Center athttp://support.na.square-enix.com/

-SQUARE ENIX Account Administrator

So arguing for gay marriage promotes negativity, discrimination, and spam?  I am not impressed.  Some of us on the role-players forum have been discussing staging in character protests, but will we be banned too?

Some players have started a Change.org petition.  What do you think would be the best way to get same-gender marriage implemented in FFXIV?  Or should we just dismiss the game and move on to more pressing social causes?  Discuss in the comments!

About Lake Desire

Lake Desire, real name Ariel Wetzel, has been blogging about feminism and videogames since 2005 at her blog New Game Plus. Lake also writes at Feminist SF - The Blog! Lake Desire is an English graduate student at University of Washington, studying science fiction, feminism, and cyberculture. At work, Lake participates in rank and file labor organizing and the anti-budget cuts struggle. Lake believes in direct democracy, queer liberation, and opposes white supremacy, patriarchy, and imperialism. Lake is white, queer, feminist, anarchist, and of course a cyborg. Lake may not sound like your typical gamer, but has been gaming since a toddler and never managed to quit.
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26 Responses to No Marriage Equality in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

  1. J says:

    -_-

    Not surprised by this. I also received a suspension for that thread. My only post in the thread was stating that it was becoming a flame war, because trolls/homophobes always enter topics like that one. I wasn’t trying to bait, discriminate, etc.–simply wanted to state that the discussion was getting far from constructive.

    • Lake Desire says:

      I’m sorry you were banned, J. I was surprised how many threads, such as those on Reddit, turned into homophobic flamewars. I forget how homophobic much of the world is because I am around subcultures that are either for marriage equality or against marriage, period, from queer liberation perspectives. I forget that many people want to preserve marriage as a privilege for cisman-ciswoman couples.

      My main point is that banning gay marriage in-game doesn’t make sense given that in-game lore states that most people are indifferent to sexual orientation. I haven’t really seen any homophobes explain, yet, how it *does* make sense to only have hetero marriage in societies indifferent to sexual orientation.

  2. J says:

    Also, just to clarify: My last comment was not to imply that I believe SE is being discriminatory in their suspensions–I think they’re doing it en mass to those who are involved in these threads turned flamewars. It’s just a shame that the community can’t discuss the issue without it becoming one. :x

  3. Wooden_Indian says:

    I was banned for starting a very similar thread. Here it is verbatim:

    Thread Title:
    A Constructive Solution to the Marriage Issue

    Relevant sections from the FINAL FANTASY XIV Guidelines:
    Posting aimed to create a negative impact on the community or its members.
    Posting that constitutes discrimination against another forum member or group (also including forming groups for the purpose of discrimination), insults, slander, libel, harassment of a group or individual.
    Posting spam, including meaningless characters and white space.

    Original Post:
    **** BY THE WAY, IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO CONTRIBUTE ANYTHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO THIS THREAD, THERE’S NO POINT IN COMMENTING. GO TROLL ON ONE OF THE MANY OTHER THREADS THAT ARE NOT DEVOTED TO OFFERING THE DEVELOPERS CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK***

    The purpose of this post is to put forth a constructive solution to the marriage issue. This solution should appeal to those who want to keep marriage “traditional” and those individuals, like myself, are opposed to marriage inequality.

    SE should simply drop the term ‘marriage’ and the baggage that it carries. Instead, I suggest that SE replace all talk of marriage with what user Anderiel aptly called ‘Eorzean Unions’.

    The benefits of doing so are obvious.

    There simply is no reason why Eorzean unions cannot obtain between characters of the same sex. So, you think that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman? Fine. An Eorzean union isn’t a marriage, so there is nothing to be offended about.

    Why should those clamoring for same-sex marriage be content with this arrangement? Since Eorzean unions are the ONLY recognized unions, then those who have characters of the same sex will not feel as though their unions are somehow second class.

    Also, could you imagine people in gay-hostile cultures raising a stink about the fact that Eorzean unions could occur between two males or two females? Again, since Eorzean unions are not marriages, there is simply nothing to be offended about. Consequently, there’s no reason why SE would have to make same-sex Eorzean Unions a NA/EU only feature.

    But wouldn’t Eorzean Unions be, by definition, romantic? And won’t people find THAT objectionable? There’s no reason why we should think that Eorzean Unions are by their nature romantic unions. Why can’t best friends enter into them? Why not think of them as eternal partnerships?

    So, I conclude, not that SE drop the feature that they have been referring to by the term ‘marriage’, but that they introduce the gaming world to Eorzean Unions.

    The suspension will last a minimum of 240 hours starting 08-10-2013 23:50 (PDT) during which time you will be unable to log in to the FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Tester Forum.

    • Lake Desire says:

      Thanks for sharing your letter. I don’t post on the beta forums so I wasn’t aware how widespread the banning was. (I hold a grudge against the beta forums because I couldn’t access them for a few months after I was accepted to beta and SE just said “refer to the beta forums for tech support when I emailed tech support, go figure!)

  4. lou says:

    what about countries where ssm is illegal? square would be losing tons of money by not being able to release in those countries. it is a business after all, not a priviledge. they are in it to make money. also im just curious, if your gay, you wouldnt feel validated unless the game you play allows ssm? im not being sarcastic. just curious. if they take hetero marriage out of the game altogether, which i think they should, it wouldnt bother me. please listen, focus your energies on more pressing issues to further you desire for equal treatment, ffxiv i believe, is wasting your time as its only a game. good luck and be safe. -L

    • Wooden_Indian says:

      Is there any evidence that allowing for SSM would get the game banned in countries that don’t allow it? Many people keep saying this, but I’ve nobody has put up the data. What about Old Republic? Has that been banned? What about Mass-Effect? Are there any estimates about how much money has been lost? Has it been banned? (By the way, these are honest questions. I really have no clue. A quick google search doesn’t reveal much)

      I’m not gay, and the issue of SSM isn’t a gay-only issue. Lots of straight couples have characters of the same sex. Also, people with RL gay friends and family members are also effected. In any case, a game doesn’t have to have SSM for me to want to play it. But if it has marriage at all, it shouldn’t be restricted to opposite sex characters.

      As for making this an issue, people seem to think that one cannot both complain about discriminatory treatment in a game AND do something about it in real life. The idea is that we need to fight discrimination WHEREVER it rears its ugly head.

      • Lake Desire says:

        Yeah, I agree with Wooden Indian. I personally would rather the game not even have marriage, but if you’re going to have it, let all characters get married. Why not allow polyamorous marriages, too? I tend to be monogamous, but allowing polyamorous marriages in a game wouldn’t negatively affect me.

        Some of the naysays are all, “OMG, it’s just a game, do some offline activism.” Uh, I do! I also like gaming and using my offline-activism skills to make a difference where I can.

        • Wooden_Indian says:

          I totally agree. It’s interesting. In one of the “debates” I was engaged in on the Beta forums, one of the proponents of “traditional” marriage tried to argue that proponents of SSM are hypocrites because we don’t advocate for polyamorous relationships. For some reason, they feel that we’d be compelled to draw the line at monogamous SSM. Silly kids.

  5. Eld says:

    Wooden_Indian seems to have a good idea for a solution to the game marriage debate, and I can’t see any reason why that post should constitute a ban. I do have a theory though.

    I think when a Post becomes a flame war, the moderator goes in there and begin to indiscriminately ban people. I’m not trying to condone the action of the moderators, just trying to find an explanation to their action, and I am not trying to ignore that homophobia may be one of the reason (since we don’t really know the personal motive of any of the moderator, it could very well be the real reason).

    On the FFXIV beta forum, I rarely post outside of the feedback and bug report areas, but did make a post in general discussion on a post that had become a flame war, accusing a player of spamming the board. This particular player have started multiple threads on the same topic numerous times. I don’t have the exact quote of what I wrote, but it was 2 lines long, asking the original poster why he feels the need to recreate the same topic over and over, as it only serve to prove that he’s trolling.

    Shortly after, I got a notice on my account for my post on that thread. :(

    • Wooden_Indian says:

      I suspect that you’re right about why I was banned. Although, I should note, my post was only up there for about 2 hours and had only received about 20 replies before I was banned. Half the comments agreed with me, while the other half were pleas to the moderator to ban me. So, it’s not clear that my post incited a flamewar.

      While I initially tended toward the explanation that the moderators were banning those who voiced their support toward same-sex marriage, I couldn’t come up with much evidence to back this claim. On the day that I got banned, there were at least two other bigoted threads and both of those got deleted. While there’s no way for me to tell whether or not those that started the threads got banned, I suspect that they have.

      • Ten says:

        Another possibility is that you got banned because your post got mass-reported by the bigots (of which the Beta forums have a staggering amount). It seems likely that there is a certain number of reports at which the moderators are pressed to take action, whether they agree with the reports or not.

        That is not to say SE does not hold responsibility for their problematic design of the marriage system, of course. Just that the (in this case predominantly western) userbase likely played a big, ugly part in the way this escalated.

        • Wooden_Indian says:

          Given what we know, I think that possibility is equally plausible. Still, it is worrisome that in order to JUSTIFY their banning me, they say that I was (a) aiming to create a negative impact, (b) discriminating against certain groups, and (c) spamming. I mean, I guess that they have to say SOMETHING in defense of their banning me… but what they did say seems particularly egregious . The same goes for the post that Lake Desire aired.

    • Lake Desire says:

      Ah, I wasn’t aware *everyone* was being banned for discussing same-gender marriage. SE mods must be trying to be “neutral.”

      • Wooden_Indian says:

        As it turns out, I was permanently banned for my post. Not only was I permanently banned, but SE could not tell me WHY I was permanently banned. This is incredible.

  6. Lynn says:

    I do wonder if they are trying to prevent their site from getting as toxic as Bioware’s by just shutting down all discussion on the topic. I would think in that case just locking the thread would be enough, but again in Bioware’s case that didn’t seem to work.

    If it truly *is* just trying to keep the forum from becoming a total cesspit, the in-game demonstration idea may actually work. Sounds like your safest bet is an outside petition/movement, though.

  7. Roni Ata says:

    I just got banned for asking about the reasoning for your ban in the thread that the Lead Game Master created to quell concerns over banning people regarding the marriage discussion.

    My post below:
    ——-
    I think the post in question that people are concerned about was widely held to be well thought out and had nothing within its context to incite anything other than a clear message of pro marriage equality.

    The wrongdoing here was cited as:
    [quoted SE's ban message]

    And the Original Post:
    [ quoted your original post]

    what part of that post got the person suspended/banned? That is unclear to a lot of us.

    • Wooden_Indian says:

      Are you serious? You got banned for that? The LGM asks for people to speak up if their policies are unclear, and then they ban you for pointing out that their policies are unclear. Amazing.

      • Jo says:

        He was banned for instigating the problem and antagonizing LGM, LGM clearly stated the topic of SSM wasn’t to be discussed or brought up in her thread and that she’ll be erasing comments/banning people that do, he decided to bring it up despite this and was thus, banned.

        • Wooden_Indian says:

          How was he “instigating the problem” or “antagonizing the LGM”? The whole point of the LGM’s post was to disambiguate between someone’s posting on a particular topic, and doing so in a way that violates the rules and policies of the forum.

          As I understand Roni Ata’s post, he was doing neither. Roni Ata didn’t post on SSM, he posted on why people were concerned that proponents of SSM were being squelched. Those are two entirely different topics.

          In a twist of irony, the LGM banned Roni Ata for so much as mentioning the topic that LGM even though I cannot for the life of me understand how Roni Ata’s post is a violation of any rule.

          Indeed, it looks like Roni Ata was simply responding to the last paragraph of the letter, which reads:

          “I hope this helps to clarify any concerns about participating in discussions on our forums. I will be monitoring this thread in the future to see if additional responses are needed to help make things clear, so please do ask questions relating to this topic if you feel that there is something you are unsure of about these topics. However, this thread is here to discuss the concerns about participation in threads and account actions, and should remain on topic, civil, and follow the rules and policies.”

  8. goodlookingcommenter says:

    First, let me start by saying that I support equality across the board. Gay marriage does not affect me one bit. Personally, I think it’s disgusting that it’s even an issue.

    But unfortunatly, it is an issue in our world, and I think maybe the creators just don’t want to create any controversy around the game. While it would be great for them to stand up for marriage equality, it is not their responsibilty to do so. Say they did allow same-sex marriage, and it became a whole big issue, then it could potentially be something that hangs over the game and overwhelms, or just annoys, some of the players. Personally, it wouldn’t bother me, in fact I think it would add to the “real world” experience if there was some controversy in Eorzea, but others might not feel the same way.

    That’s just an idea though. I’m sure there are other reasons, good or bad, for not accepting it. But if that is the case, then I can partially understand. At the end of the day this is a business, and their goal is to appeal to as many users as possible. Thoughts?

  9. Wataza Lefey says:

    First I’d like to start by saying that I admire Lake’s contribution to the LGBT community. As a gay man myself, it’s difficult to find people outside of the LGBT that are willing to stand alongside us in our battle for equality. Secondly, I personally do not want to get married, but support equal marriage for those that do. In addition, I feel that marriage in a video game shouldn’t really exist to begin with. However, it does and I’m okay with that, but you likely wont find me participating in my own “game wedding.”

    I’d like to point out that FFXIV: ARR is still in Beta. It’s ONLY Beta! Give it some time.And yes I know the game release is right around the corner, but still, the game is still very new and fresh. Bioware did not have same-sex relationship options right from the start. I played the Old republic and it wasn’t until the first expansion of “Rise of the Hutt Cartel” that it became and option and to even do it you had to have a Lv.50 character and be doing the quests on the new introduced planet (Makeb) where the only thing you really got to do was have your character kiss a character of the same sex. Somewhat lacking if you ask me, but hey, it was better than nothing.
    As for FFXIV, I feel there are much bigger things for SE to focus on. Like the server capacity, connectivity, and such. What good is getting married if you can’t even log on? Quests you can’t finish, or bugs/glitches that make you stuck in a loading screen. I’m not trying to deter anyone, but I am saying that for now it might be best to “let be” and after the game has had some time to refine itself, then start to implement other stuff for players to do.
    Personally, I deal with “who am I going to be with” in real life enough that I don’t want to log in and feel the same thing. I want to log in and slay awesome primals and quell evil beasts. Not get married. I have real life for that, even though it’s not exactly possible for everyone currently, but still I’d rather play the game for what it is. A game. Would I like to see two male Miqo’te in an Eorzean Union? Of course! Just not yet.

  10. derpyhooves says:

    Isn’t a game marriage just a tiny guild? Solution = give “marriage benefits”
    to guilds. :D

  11. I haven’t played this game in particular, but I find it pretty much pointless that SE would ban same gender marriage. I mean, historically, there are several well known games that allow it and treat it like any other marriage: The Sims and Fable II and III for example. And nobody is making a big deal about it (The Sims is among the top selling games of all times).

  12. Samantha rae says:

    I do not care about marriage in real life nor in a game. But I will tell you what i am NOT for! You know what i am freaking out about, and in no way can condone! Inner racial marriages between a Lalafell and a Roegadyn!!! Not cool… Love is love but NO!… a catttt person an some midlander!!!! Ohh what is this great country and Ul’dah coming to! I do not care about the gays, but some things should not mix!

    (this is satire in case people can not tell)

  13. Doug S. says:

    One thing that might be relevant: Final Fantasy XIV is a Japanese game. I don’t know much about the status of same-sex marriage in Japan, but whether or not it exists in this game is going to depend a lot more on social conditions in Japan than on what its American fanbase wants.

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