A Study in Contrasts: Star Wars–The Old Republic

A Jedi Consular; scholars and diplomats with more than a small touch of grace. They can also kill you with their minds. - A tan skinned woman wearing brown robes and earthtoned ceremonial headgear wielding a blue bladed lightsabre, standing before a verdant forest scene.

Edited to Add: This article has been corrected. Thankfully Vette’s shock collar cannot be used to make her love your male character.

Bioware’s The Old Republic has been released to much fanfare and a blitz of publicity, becoming a surprisingly ubiquitous presence in bus shelters and subway adverts, promising the beginning of “Your Saga”  on its release date. With a million subscriptions at this point, at least according to EA, The Old Republic is one of the most popular Western MMOs since the release of WoW.

Reviewing it, like reviewing any MMO, is an undertaking that is necessarily caveated; MMOs, in their very structure, are long games that are unending and built to evolve. MMOs are O. Henry’s New York: “it’ll be a great place if they ever finish it.” Reviews of such are thus works-in-eternal-progress as well. With this in mind, I have to say that I am both deeply enticed by this game, concerned about it, and somewhat hopeful for it. In terms of the game’s gender politics, there are a couple of glaring issues, and a lot of small ones– if there is a theme for the game’s gender problems it’s more a “death by a thousand cuts” situation rather than one that beats you over the head with rank misogyny. Gameplay is smooth, and the MMO presents a polished, even refined title whose cleanness is impressive in a game released just two weeks ago. Despite being a clear WoW clone, it also has several distinctions that go well beyond being mere gimmicks.

TOR is best understood as a game of contrasts, polarities as sharp as the Light/Dark side dyad that its narrative so rigidly adheres to.

Let’s begin with gender.

A Thousand Cuts

True to Knights of the Old Republic and Bioware fashion, women are shown here in a variety of roles: smugglers, senators, spies, assassins, soldiers, officers, police officers, Jedi, Sith, and so on. Satele Shan, descendant of Bastila (a favourite Jedi character of mine from the first KoTOR game) is not only a prominent figure, but is the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. On the surface we find nominal equality; most of the outfits in the game are fairly gender-neutral and do not suddenly reveal lots of skin when worn on a woman (there are a small number of exceptions I’ve observed thusfar).

Character customisation is also fascinating- you can actually select your body type. From waif, to curvy, to tall and huskily built with muscles, women are given a wider range of body types to choose from than we normally find in such games. Men, similarly, can be skinnier and lither than I’ve often seen them in any video game, another applaudable first for players of male characters who prefer to not be built like a house.

But it is here where the downsides begin, as well. “Curvy” is as far as the slider allows you to go as a woman, while men can cultivate more prodigious girth. Beyond this, we find a range of problems in portrayal of a small sort that begin to add up. As an Imperial Agent you encounter a man who threatens to blow your cover. There are a few ways you can deal with him but one is distinctly gendered- a man Agent can threaten or intimidate him, but if you’re a woman Agent that option is replaced by flirtation/sleeping with him. Meanwhile, Sith Warriors get a companion, Vette, a former slave who comes complete with a shock collar. You can actually use the shock collar to break her. (In a prior version of this article I had said that you could actually shock her into “loving” your character; mercifully this turned out to be untrue and I have since corrected the matter.) To my knowledge this is not possible with male companions- although male slaves do abound in the game as well. The treatment of Twi’lek women- who are most visible in TOR as scantily clad dancers and titillating holograms or neon ads- in Star Wars is a rather interesting topic for another time.

Satele Shan, a dark haired, light skinned woman wearing an earth toned and gold trimmed suit without sleeves.

In my article “The Twenty Millennia Decade” I discussed Star Wars’ unnerving tendency to default to inexplicable patriarchy. TOR persists in this. As a woman Republic Trooper you find people stunned to find a woman in such a position; you can tell them off quite successfully but the fact that this is even positioned as remarkable is very questionable. Yet again we’re talking about a high civilisation, cosmopolitan in the extreme, with many millennia of history. But it’s still exceptional for a woman to be a soldier?

What Bioware actually excels in is presenting a very proto-feminist vision of women’s participation in society where we are shown to be potentially competent at everything but still somewhat tokenised, still just so happening to be fewer in number than our male counterparts. Bioware is good at providing a few feel-good storylines where your woman character or some NPCs overcome misogyny. Wonderful,yes, and I approve of that.  But there is a greater issue beyond this: why is the first principle of presumptive patriarchy itself never questioned?

On a related note, this was the game, one should recall, that a Bioware representative once infamously remarked “had no gays.” This remains borne out. Just as you see in Skyrim, where heterosexuality is completely universal, TOR presents not even one queer relationship, implied or otherwise. For the player, queer relationships have been promised in a future patch, via new companions, but this again feels tokenising. There is no reason the existing companions cannot be queer. Bioware is often lauded, with some justice, as a progressive developer. But this is as much a function of how terrible other developers are as it is a function of Bioware’s own innate liberalism.

People of colour are portrayed well enough, and visibly, and women of colour are included in this- as companions as well as other NPCs. Further, I would even go so far as to say that sex work is portrayed in a somewhat more realistic way here. One quest on Coruscant has you helping a woman who chose to do sex work escape a jealous and abusive boyfriend. But again, presumed patriarchy, etc. etc. The portrayal of women in this game is, overall, reasonably positive if undermined by periodic nonsense that can- depending on how you feel about these things- add up over time. Woman is a way of being human here, except they are straining against an unmarked patriarchy.

Attack of the Clone

Right down to Force spells, rotations, and general feel, this game is a clear analogue of WoW, more than any other MMO I’ve played– which is saying a fair bit as most tend to hew close to the market leader’s form these days. This is not necessarily a demerit, however. WoW’s structure is, in some ways, worth emulating and building on. I have, for now, found it to be a familiar and welcoming style of gameplay that- at last- gives me access to a KotOR with real time combat. I love the play style of my Jedi Consular, the lore that surrounds the class, and the specialisation system that gives each class a wide array of play styles.

If the class abilities and general rhythm of the game (go out, quest, loot, turn in quests, sell swag on the auction house and do crafting) mirror WoW to a T, what TOR is proving to excel at is building on this structure in a few interesting ways. In addition to pantomiming WoW’s successes, it also borrows something brilliant from Lord of the Rings Online: a main quest storyline. Unlike LoTRO, however, the main quest is different for each class. Divided into “Acts,” this storyline system deepens LotRO’s innovation and gives each class a truly unique feel that, in my mind at least, provides a springboard for roleplaying.

Class quests are a double edged sword in this regard. For RP purposes it can be hard to sustain the self-aggrandising plot points in each quest. My Jedi Consular is the only Jedi in the galaxy with a certain power- well, her and every other Consular. On the other hand, used creatively the quests can still lend structure to a dedicated RPer’s character, and can also help situate them in the Old Republic world.

Others have commented that TOR is WoW-meets-Knights of the Old Republic. A WoW-like questing/levelling structure with a KoTOR-like dialogue and morality system. This is, so far as I have seen, very true. On a personal level, I like it. It provides depth, and in borrowing from Bioware’s own pioneering Mass Effect dialogue system, it gives a voice to your character. But it also gives a voice to the game itself, a distinct vibe that takes it past its predecessors and comprises the best example of Bioware’s unique imprint.

Furthermore, companions- in addition to being fleshed out characters- are the nexus of crafting, in a wonderfully innovative system that lends much needed texture and granularity to that WoW-rhythm. While I’m doing game-related chores, I can send my companion off on some mission for a small sum of credits that fetches crafting materials of some kind and raises my crafting skills. The crafts themselves- riotously diverse, from Archaeology to Diplomacy to Underworld Trading- provide players with amusing little diversions and multiple paths to crafted goods. Each player also gets their own spaceship, and I credit the developers with giving each (they are apportioned by class, again) a unique and creative feel.

In the spirit of the game’s contradictions, it is a painfully obvious clone of WoW, but one that then distinguishes itself:  not just from WoW, but from every other MMO I’ve seen thusfar. The spaceship, related space combat quests, companion system, and even ‘small’ details like the beauty of the Galaxy Map aboard your ship set to a lovely orchestral theme, the dialogue system, all serve to not only distinguish TOR from its competitors but positively create an atmosphere that can be said to be distinctly TOR. The game has a lot of potential to make its own unique je ne sais quois, an issue many MMOs struggle with. When I did my first space mission, adapting to admittedly loose controls, I felt I’d finally found where The Old Republic truly stands. It touches that precious commodity of uniqueness and holds tight here.

Nar Shaddaa- reminds me a lot of home, actually. A city of permanently lit skyscrapers thronged together, illuminated by a polychromatic melange of adverts and spotlights barely veiled by an evening mist- what's not to like?

Space. Spaaaaaace!

But there is one area where I wish TOR had imitated WoW more assiduously: space. World of Warcraft presents a contiguous world where not every square inch of space is given over to questing and combat. There are lovely little areas that seem almost made for roleplay, that are designed purely for the beauty of it, to lend verisimilitude and breathing space to the world. TOR, thusfar, lacks these. It continues the tradition of making city-worlds like Coruscant feel maddeningly small. TOR is highly utilitarian when it comes to space, providing a small staging area that foregrounds a field of enemies overpopulating space where other kinds of social interaction could occur.

I should emphasise, however, that it is nowhere near as bad as Warhammer was in this respect, with practically the only settlements worth speaking of being the capitals of each faction. TOR does at least have some places to sit down, as it were, and your spaceship itself could be the setting of any number of personally-driven adventures.

It will be interesting to observe, over time, what players will make of their space here in the Star Wars galaxy. Haunts appear to be emerging on the Republic/Imperial fleets- beautifully designed midway points on your intergalactic travel- where there seems to be more room for social space. The spaceports are also breathtaking: it’s hard not to imagine Taris’s eventually hosting more than one guild event.

On the question of beauty, the game can often be breathtaking. It’s just a pity more of it isn’t given to the players’ whims- roleplay and otherwise. But can the game, nevertheless, do a better job of encouraging RP than World of Warcraft or Warhammer? It has that potential, not least in regards to the fact that the class quests provide an excellent skeleton from which you can build a character and a backstory. This marks an intriguing trend in MMOs that I will be discussing more thoroughly in regards to Guild Wars 2: giving your character an actual character via the game design itself. This development heralds, I think, the desire to take the “RP” in MMORPG more seriously than we’ve yet seen. I can hardly say I disapprove.

If nothing else, it provides that much more opportunity for me to be the character I want to see in games like this. Can these new innovations in class-based storylines provide players with more avenues of RP-based resistance? I’m excited to try and find out.

Conclusion

This is, if nothing else, a well oiled, well-functioning game that betrays stunningly few bugs and technical flaws. A remarkable achievement so soon out the gate. The gameplay can become grindy and repetitive, and too much space is lent to level-appropriate combat zones. But the game retains the promise contained in all KotOR games: capturing the spirit of Star Wars in a way George Lucas no longer seems able to. TOR provides, from the start, a fun experience that- so long as one does not completely hate the WoW/EQ structure- should provide at least some worthy diversion. Does it have staying power? It’s too early to say. It may yet degenerate into an overly-expanded raiding game, but for now at least the game seems to have a bright future.

What continues to bother me the most in this polished behemoth is the way gender is portrayed in various, small ways. They come close to realising a post-patriarchal gender order, but ultimately seem to opt for a cliched pantomime of our own world. It’s rather unbecoming of a game like The Old Republic, the sweep of whose ambition is as vast as the galaxy it’s set in. Indeed, TOR represents one of the most significant contenders in the MMO-scape to date, and knowing that such games are built to grow it makes TOR’s present, fairly well polished state all the more impressive. It is my hope that it only becomes moreso, and that it takes women and queer people onwards and upwards with it.

About Quinnae

Quinnae Moongazer, (or Katherine Cross, as she is known in Muggle-speak) is a pizza loving feminist sociologist, trans Latina, and amateur slug herder, working on her PhD at the CUNY Graduate Centre. When she's not studying or gaming she can be found at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Her blog can be found at quinnae.com and her writing has also appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly, Bitch Magazine, Questioning Transphobia, and Kotaku. She is a co-editor of the Border House.
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57 Responses to A Study in Contrasts: Star Wars–The Old Republic

  1. Twyst says:

    Just a note to say that BioWare has said that they are going to patch the romances/companions to provide more options, but that at the time they decided to make the change there wasnt enough time to implement. I don’t know the extent of this, ie: if NPCs outside of the companions will be modified.

    • Maverynthia says:

      So, Bioware FINALLY got around to putting in a slider to select body types. “Technology” they had back in NEVERWINTER NIGHTS! Never. Winter. Nights. That was back in.. what 2002? Yes in that game you could actually choose between two body types, but HEY that was old games right? They improved? NOEP! Not until basically 2012.
      Then they decide to say “No, no homo here!” and after the backlash at the game “Oh hey we changed our minds, yeah going to have to put resources into implementing that, because we didn’t even THINK of ever having that option.”

      Fuck Bioware, this is why I will never buy another game by them.

  2. Cuppycake says:

    I started a female Bounty Hunter, and couldn’t help but be annoyed with all of the quest NPCs who kept calling me “little girl”. My character is clearly an adult woman. I can tolerate it if it’s one particular character who says it, but it’s many of them. Anyone else notice that?

    • Zaewen says:

      I’ve gotten a couple of those sorts of comments as a female Smuggler. Always in the “I am a bad guy who is seriously about to underestimate my opponent” kinda way, never from someone who is supposedly on my side. Well, ‘cept for my good ol’ companion Corso who decided to inform me that men shouldn’t hit women, but there were conversation options to shoot that down pretty quickly (not that he took kindly to his sexism being pointed out).

    • Quinnae says:

      I haven’t played a Bounty Hunter, so no. But that is annoying yes. When it keeps coming up again and again. As a verbal tic for the odd unpleasant character, yes, but somehow I don’t imagine “Little Boy” is used as an insult anywhere near as often.

    • Lima Zulu says:

      I do get it as my Cyborg Bounty Hunter with wicked laser eye. They get jetpack Shoryuken to the jaw.

  3. Trodamus says:

    It’s a problem of these sandbox universes such as what Star Wars has become, as you find simple answers to limited questions being applied carte blanche across the setting.

    So is it tough for women in the military, more the exception than the rule? Sure. Then suddenly you have this setting where it’s assumed that, for thousands of years in an advanced cosmopolitan and diverse society, that women have just been assumed to not take up those roles and it’s bizarre when they do.

    And it’s not that you can’t still have these sort of gendered comments, but they just need more thought. For you bounty hunters, it’s annoying to have people question your character because women don’t become bounty hunters. It’d be neat if that was followed up with, “because most post-military women become assassins instead”, or “women tend to be career military” or whatever else, just so long as some reasonable thought it sbeing put into it.

    Good article as always Q, you care alot more about star wars than I do so it’s always refreshing.

    • Quinnae says:

      Heh, thank you. Star Wars and I have a complex history for sure. I could get more philosophical about why Star Wars is actually a terrible setting but I have great affection for it nevertheless.

      And your suggestions are very interesting; doubtless you came up with them in a few seconds. It’s a shame that writers/devs can’t take that much time to be just a little more creative with how they manage gender.

      • Trodamus says:

        Yeah, I remember reading some deep-set philosophical DISS of star wars about how it was communistic or something, owing to the idea that the agency to change is reserved for one or two people in SW canon (Anakin, Luke, etc). Passing around Destiny like it’s some kind of heretidary disease.

        In my mind, the second best thing you can do, if you’re not sure about this sort of thing, is to just assume there is no difference between genders, with the best to have well thought out cultural differences that don’t depend on assumed ethnocentric gender roles. The Cassandra Kresnov novels did this, it being noted as interesting to have a female swat commander because most women were beaurocrats (sauce for the goose included having a female president).

        Blame an old creative writing professor that drilled one of the students for saying that one of her characters did something “because she’s female.”

    • Twyst says:

      the extra silly thing is that plenty of the trainers are women – and your handler for the great hunt, and competitors… so why is everyone surprised??

  4. Ophelia says:

    One of the weirdest things about TOR’s patriarchy is that it just isn’t consistent. A woman is the head of the Jedi Council (a visibly aged Satele, which I appreciated). An aged woman is the general who directs you as a soldier. A strong, confident woman is the instigator of the smuggler plot (I’m 19 as a trooper, 31 as a smuggler). Why the hell would people be surprised I’m a female trooper when 1. There’s another woman on HAVOC squad and 2. General Garza’s a badass woman too!

    And then sex in this game! Ugh! As a Smuggler, I get Corso who’s constantly talking about “taking care of women” even as “tough as you.” I get hit on by a womanizing gambler, I get hit on by a foppish noble on Alderaan, but even if I was into guys, why would I want any of them? And then there’s Risha (and a few other women, such as the woman in the intro) who have lines that just seem fundamentally flirtatious. It doesn’t help that I find her really attractive. Skavak, my womanizing nemesis, seems to be set up as a foil where we’re both supposed to be comparing our penis sizes. And it’s not that the specific dialogue options don’t make sense once it gets to them. I just get the feeling that it’s written with a straight man in mind.

    It’s just bizarre. Women come on to me, but I’m perpetually friend zoned. It’s a patriarchal world, but there are so many examples of strong and powerful women. I really wonder what female members of the dev team would say it.

    • Twyst says:

      ahh, you have summed up my comment that i just hastily made without reading on. I echo this, obviously.

    • Capella says:

      I got the impression that that one kid who was startled by you being a female sergeant was a brand-new recruit from Ord Mantell who hadn’t seen the rest of the galaxy and still awkward, and not that he was the typical male soldier. I haven’t played Smuggler so I can’t comment on that.

  5. Laurentius says:

    I actually pretty much agree with everything you’ve written and yet… game is grindy, omg it is so grindy, while concept of replaying different classes to see their stories is great, the number of grindy quests that must be completed to do so, can only be creation of some really evil mind. I’m playing Sw:ToR and i intend (i guess..) to complete story for my Imperial Agent Chiss but playing more… I don’t think so. So quality is there, but i’d rather see KoToR 2,3,4,5 as a single player game with different stories but tedious grind removed. I commend this Bioware’s game and i want it to fail as deep inside i loathe design that run its mechanic.

    • Doug S. says:

      I really haven’t noticed the grind. FFXI, now that was a grindy game… it didn’t even have reasonable quests for you to do! You wanted to level, you went out and killed things for no reason other than that they’re there and they’re hostile!

  6. Korva says:

    Cheers for the article, I was wondering if/when TOR would get one. :) Quite similar to you, I am divided about the game, and concerned and annoyed about many of the same reasons.

    The good: stories! They’re the reason I bought the game to begin with. My Consular (Shadow tank spec) is now 28 and so far I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride along her class story. It just pushes many of my buttons the right way. My Trooper, now 14, had less of a fun time so far and more hardships and quandries to deal with, but that has its own appeal. Only the Knight feels a bit like a generic boring action hero so far, lacking the “personal” connection and motivation that the other two have. Though, yes, the ego-stroking gets silly at times. Thankfully, that one excitable kid in the Trooper prologue aside, I haven’t yet encountered any dubious remarks or attitudes. I guess the Empire is more “evil” in that, among other things, but as you say, it begs the question of why.

    Not being a Star Wars fan, I ask myself that question a lot. It looks like many fans have a sort of selective blindness about sexism, homophobia etc, though — maybe because they feel it doesn’t concern them. Or, the usual explanation: it’s “realistic”. Yeah, like lightsabers, Force powers, being able to withstand a direct application of the same, or taking three dozen blaster bolts to the face and still walking off in one piece? “Realism” only applies when “undesirables” are to be kept in their place and out of the playground, sadly.

    Star Wars in general and this game in particular confuses me because on one hand it LOOKS relatively egalitarian, no one has told my characters what they should or should not do, no one has put them down for being female. And yet, and despite the fact that there are some kickass female NPCs in every line of work and on every level of power, the vast majority of NPCs from the nameless backdrops and mooks to questgivers and bosses is male. The only exception: the “dancers”, who are everywhere. Why the hell are there no male “dancers”?

    On the other hand, in the military, militias or security forces, there are almost no women that I have seen so far — and questgivers in these lines of work will almost unfailingly talk about “their men”. Men this, men that. Women are never mentioned or included. It really annoys the living hell out of me, just as it did in WoW in the Vashj’ir zone. Would it have been so hard to replace most of these instances with “our troops” or “my boys and girls”, and put some female characters in these roles too?

    Also, female party members are too scarce and default to one per class, young, human-pretty and “available”. All the more “monstrous” or “odd” aliens I’ve seen are male, both joinables and non-joinables. (Sounds like Mass Effect, eh?) Female aliens have breasts even when they’re not even mammals. The female CHILD MODEL has breasts. I don’t know how old the girls I’ve almost cartoonish doll faces — and then the tits.

    Beyond those concerns, I agree with you on the lack of space. One reason why I enjoyed WoW before Blizzard’s lore-mangling and character-gutting made me hate it was that you really could move almost freely in this persistent world that had day/night cycles and weather effects to boot. TOR feels like a cramped, static stage in comparison. Pretty, no doubt, but there’s something missing. Of course, a direct comparison is unfair since WoW is mostly limited to one world whereas TOR makes us flit all across a galaxy. But it still feels rather stale. I arrived on Tattooine today and decided to explore the desert. Left Anchorhead to the south … exhaustion zone, turn back! Okay. North? Exhaustion zone, turn back! Turns out you have to take a taxi to leave the settlement …

    The promised “heroic combat” doesn’t exist, IMO. In fact, the addition of permanent companions for everyone makes me feel like I can barely handle anything on my own. The story tends to treat us like the Second Coming, but there are countless unnamed elites in the game who can wipe the floor with us, the non-damage components of certain abilities don’t even work on them (particularly frustrating for my Jedi Knight throughout Tython and Coruscant), and boss fights still seem to fall almost exclusively in the “scrubby PCs dogpile on a single godlike NPC” category, which is a disappointment. I was expecting more of an actual “heroism” feeling from the combat and gameplay. As it is, the disconnect between story and gameplay is part amusing, part frustrating.

    Crafting, though, I disagree with. It’s a big time- and money sink, and then you realize that a) many items can’t even be crafted (even-numbered grades of various item modifications for example), and b) it’s rare to actually use a crafted item since drops and commendation gear are so plentiful. The concept of reverse engineering is great, at least, and I really enjoy sending out my “minions” to do the work for me, but the payoff for all the effort should be bigger.

    I could say more, but I realize this sounds pretty negative already. :( Maybe it’s because I’m rebounding so hard from WoW and burned out by that game. Maybe it’s because I just am not a Star Wars fan and have not found anything in the setting that I *really* like and identify with except for the Jedi. Maybe I had set my hopes too high. I don’t know yet if I’ll stick with TOR beyond the class stories I want to see. We’ll see what improvements, fixes and game balance changes they make early on.

    Summary: really love the storylines; gameplay could be better and smoother and doesn’t deliver the promised “heroism”; crafting is awful; unexplained and unnecessary sexism bugs me.

    I sincerely hope that TOR won’t go down the “raid or GTFO and die” route, because that would kill it for me. It will never be a sandbox and I think the people who hoped for it to be more of one (old SWG fans mainly, I guess) were always in for a disappointment — but a little more “life” in and interactivity with the world, better balance, more satisfying crafting, and more to do beyond beating stuff up would go a long way.

    • Quinnae says:

      My goodness, you’ve favoured us with a review all on its own! Thank you for taking the time to share this with all of us.

      On the companion issue, I did a quick tally of all the available companions in the game and found a 2:1 man/woman ratio. It’s hardly surprising. Most classes have only one woman companion, the Imperial Agent is aberrant in that she has three (albeit including a droid with inexplicable boobs- seriously, she’s a *robot*, why does she need to have markedly notable breasts?)

      On the other hand, in the military, militias or security forces, there are almost no women that I have seen so far — and questgivers in these lines of work will almost unfailingly talk about “their men”. Men this, men that.

      Agreed, that’s been bugging me too. If I had to wager, I’d say that questgivers display roughly the same 2:1 gender ratio, irritatingly. Although, on Taris, which has a lot of Republic military outposts, even a woman quartermaster did the whole “men” thing.

      Female aliens have breasts even when they’re not even mammals.

      I forgot to mention in my review of Skyrim that this was an annoyance in that game as well. The Argonian women suddenly had boobs. In Morrowind it was much more realistic, female Argonians didn’t have breasts- what with, you know, their not being mammalian.

      the vast majority of NPCs from the nameless backdrops and mooks to questgivers and bosses is male. The only exception: the “dancers”, who are everywhere. Why the hell are there no male “dancers”?

      Nar Shaddaa… absolutely amazing planet whose vistas are stunning, but damn if some of the things there aren’t annoying the hell out of me. Again with the ubiquity of Twi’lek women dancers, up to and including five-storey tall holograms of honest to god poledancing. Then, one of the Counsular questgivers and future companion of mine (oy vey) has a holographic girlfriend. *sighs* I really think I’m going to need to write at least one follow-up article.

      The up side is that Taris’ governor, Governor Saresh, was amazing and as a Twi’lek woman helped subvert the cantina dancer trope, but she’s rather heavily outweighed by the crushing preponderance of cliches elsewhere. I certainly don’t object to sex workers being visible, the issue as always is that they are rarely given a chance to speak for themselves and be characters. The lone exception to this I’ve seen so far has been a quest on Coruscant which I mentioned approvingly in the review. You captured much the same thing I had noticed, which is the sense of contradiction that pervades the game: in some birds-eye-view ways, it is quite progressive with gender. But in a lot of micrological ways it gets irritating. The gender imbalance is especially weird. Bioware’s past games have been much closer to 50/50 than this.

      On all of the technical matters…

      I’ve no doubt that many an overinflated promise won’t be kept. Heroic combat, whatever that was supposed to mean, is not likely to be in the offing. What we do see, however, is a game that- provided you don’t absolutely hate WoW’s levelling structure- is engaging. I’ve found myself getting quite hooked! I do feel the story based quests are interesting- they are not the deepest, most penetrating writing I’ve yet seen- I do not think (and I hope I’m wrong) that any Great Moment in Gaming will come out of my class quest. But it is interesting all the same, and satisfying. It lends a voice and a purpose to my character that I can then build off of as needed.

      As to crafting, yes, it’s not astonishing. It does emulate WoW’s system a fair bit, but I do really like the companion mission system and the fact that you can sort of farm mats without farming. I think that’s quite useful. I haven’t invested too much into Synthweaving. Just sort of spamming it whenever I get the chance, but no it’s definitely not anything new in certain respects.

      Anyway, thank you so much for this detailed comment.

      • Zaewen says:

        On the companion issue, I did a quick tally of all the available companions in the game and found a 2:1 man/woman ratio. It’s hardly surprising. Most classes have only one woman companion, the Imperial Agent is aberrant in that she has three (albeit including a droid with inexplicable boobs- seriously, she’s a *robot*, why does she need to have markedly notable breasts?)

        I thought the companions ratio was closer to 1 out of 4? Or are you not counting droids? At any rate, an even better (and by better I mean makes me want to *facepalm*) stat is that all of the female companions, except for the boobular fembot are romance options. Yet only half of the male companions are available to be romanced.

        • Quinnae says:

          Hey Zee!

          Hmm, I didn’t count the ship’s custodial droids, no, although they’re both flagged as male as well. But I did count all of the other companion droids since all droids are assigned gender, even those that speak only in Astromech.

          I had 12 women and 28 men. That’s 1 out of 3 exactly, actually.

      • Korva says:

        Thanks, it was rather good to bring up these annoyances in a friendly space. There was a thread about sexism on the official forums, and you can guess how that went. Men are women aren’t equal in any way in the real world so why should they be in a game, deal with it, obviously games aren’t for you, the setting is like that so shut up and stop asking why, it’s much more sexist to kill all the men, you just want to be offended, you’re just trolling … that’s what the majority of posts read like. *sigh*

      • Twyst says:

        Not only are most of the cannon fodder baddies that i have come across men (37 BH), they are THE SAME MAN. There is one model that has Bieber hair, and when i got my ship i had to kill maybe 20 of him. The same guy. What in the world!

        • Sunflower says:

          This comment made me laugh so much. I am just about to start playing the game to try it out as a potential multiplayer I can play with my friends/brother. I will have to look out for this man myself!

        • Doug S. says:

          Yeah, it’s not like this game is taking place during the Clone Wars or something…

  7. melponeme_k says:

    I play a Sith Inquisitor Sorcerer, I haven’t noticed sexist story lines so much. Mainly because everyone the character meets is justifiably terrified of her.

    What I do like about the characterization is that the game allows a very wide range of faces, freckles, implants and scars. This is the first game I’ve ever played that I could make my female look really battle scarred.

    The only problem I have with the game so far is that there is a noticeable ability delay/lag. My character is a healer and this bug kills the game for me. I can only imagine how people in PvP are dealing with it.

  8. It really feels to me as if Star Wars gets a pass on the exact same stuff that is considered terrible and problematic in other media. I’m not entirely sure why Star Wars gets a pass. If I’d heard that list of issues with most anything else, it’d be considered just as sexist as other mainstream gaming. Yet, when it happens in Star Wars, reviewers look deep to find excuses and examples of why it’s not so bad.

    This is a franchise whose most defining female character’s most well-known image is as a ‘sexy slave’. It’s a license from a company that’s well-known for being anti-gay (which is likely why there aren’t any gay relationships in the game, despite Bioware’s passable record).

    • Trudy says:

      It’s a license from a company that’s well-known for being anti-gay (which is likely why there aren’t any gay relationships in the game, despite Bioware’s passable record).

      Except that there are gays in Star Wars canon; Karen Traviss has gay Mandalorians who were married in her books long before I’m sure the idea of a TOR game was even conceived.

      I know it’s easy to hate on LucasFilms/Arts, but they’re not the ones responsible for the lack of gay relationships in TOR here; it’s Bioware.

      And hopefully they’ll eventually fix it.

  9. interleaper says:

    I briefly considered playing SWTOR. When I went to check the price, one of the bonus items for a premium purchase was a personal holo-dancer for your character. This told me all I needed to know about who the game was designed and marketed for, and since I wasn’t that, I dropped it.

    Thanks for this article. It’s good to know I wasn’t too hasty at all. The shock-collar “romance” with the Sith warrior sounds especially vile. Not that I have a problem with kink– quite the contrary– but that doesn’t sound like it comes anywhere near negotiated consensual power exchange, and of course only het dudes are allowed to be tops.

    • Quinnae says:

      Thanks for this article. It’s good to know I wasn’t too hasty at all. The shock-collar “romance” with the Sith warrior sounds especially vile. Not that I have a problem with kink– quite the contrary– but that doesn’t sound like it comes anywhere near negotiated consensual power exchange, and of course only het dudes are allowed to be tops.

      This is so true, the way you phrased this. “Only het dudes are allowed to be tops.”

      I will say, however, I just corrected the article to reflect the fact that you actually *cannot* use the shock collar to prompt a heavily coerced “romance.” If your player keeps using it, she eventually just stops talking to you. It’s very unpleasant all the same but at least the sexual overtones are removed from what I can tell.

      And I can’t believe I forgot to mention the personal holo-dancer but, yes, that was irritating. I don’t even know why you’d need one since there are holo-dancers practically every ten feet in this game.

      • Deviija says:

        Yeah, the holo-dancer preorder item was something I grumped about and let BioWare know on the forums that it was awful. It is one thing to market sexualization, it is another to exploit one specific gender for preorder allure to one specific audience demographic. Not all of us are heterosexual men, guys.

        If a dude has the option to be a womanizer/male gazer in-game, why can’t someone’s lady character get the same dues of being able to be a manizer/female gazer? :P That was one fo the many tics in my ‘Do Not Buy To Show Support of This Game’s Current Content’ list.

      • Capella says:

        Not that I have a problem with kink– quite the contrary– but that doesn’t sound like it comes anywhere near negotiated consensual power exchange, and of course only het dudes are allowed to be tops.

        I’ve been playing the female Sith Warrior storyline (once in beta, once now), and I find I disagree with this statement. I agree that the m!War and Vette is problematic because of the shock collar and legal slavery, and the m!War and your apprentice Jaesa (if she’s darksided) also has power overtones that are unfortunate given your relative positions.
        But I feel the f!War’s romance with your companion Malavai Quinn subverts that. The female PC is definitely a top; she’s the person doing the pursuing, while he’s the person stammering and backing away, she clearly has the power and dominance in their relationship, while he is willingly submissive to her (he always refers to her by title, he mentions how happy he is to be in her service, etc). If those two had a D/s relationship, it’s clear who’d be topping!

        You can argue that there’s still creepy undertones with Quinn and the f!Warrior, and you can also argue that due to the Warrior storyline in general, where you’re a noble from the most privileged caste, the PC is always going to be the one with agency while the companion will always be the one with creepy undertones. I think those are valid critiques. But, given that there’s a tendency in media to pair a strong female with a stronger man, having a romance with a male character who acknowledges his inferiority and yet doesn’t have a problem with that or feels compelled to prove he’s stronger than you is a relieving change. I really do think this pairing challenges the “only het men can top” argument. (And there are other pairings I suspect will challenge it too, however, I’m not as advanced in those storylines to make a full critique and feel confident.)

        As for the same sex romance thing, I can say this: I’m personally on the side of “Bioware wanted it and external factors stopped it”. You see, like many others in beta, I have the XML files of game dialogue which it is comparatively easy to read through, as well as gigabytes of ogg files which it is significantly harder to pick through! And there are pretty clear hints of same-sex romance dialogue that was recorded in there and that just didn’t make it in. For example, I was listening to folders with dialogue between Malavai Quinn and the PC, and there are patterns; it tends to be NPC line, then a female PC line, then the same line with the male PC’s voice acting, and then another NPC line. And there were male voiced versions of the male PC saying some of the exact. same. flirt. lines. that the female PC could use on Quinn. They’re not available options in the launch game, but at least some of them WERE recorded and could be extracted as files from a beta build available as late as July of 2011. I don’t think they would have been recorded if Bioware was the one causing problems. (Now, whether or not we want to take cut evidence that was ripped out of game files as evidence is another argument- but I wanted to toss that fact out there for consideration.)

  10. Tim says:

    Re:Body types
    I am playing a female Jedi knight, one of those that have evolved to not have eyes (What is their name? I can’t keep up with all the names -.-). During creation I choose to make my character as tall as enginely possible. And she is tall, alright. She is more than a head taller, at least compared to other female characters. Compare the height to male body types and you end up being somewhat around average. That is stupid.

    • Quinnae says:

      It is, agreed. As I said, the character body-type slider still pens women within certain confines, which is very irritating, and as Mavy pointed out, this is technology they’ve had at least since Neverwinter Nights.

      Also, the species you’re thinking of is Miraluka. I love saying their name. *grins*

      • Tim says:

        Miraluka….

        Sounds like Miracoli! Which is a brand of spaghetti you can buy around here *cough*

  11. Jordy says:

    I’m one of those guys that absolutely adores spade combat and dont mind going all solo in there (you even have to as you wrote in your article).. But who knows? The game’s only been out for a little while and i’m sure that if space combat proves to be popular they’ll think about adding a multiplayer feature. I’d like too see more possibilities for adjusting your own ship as well though; change the room layouts, weapon looks. And where’s my chewbacca?!

    • Quinnae says:

      If you’re playing a Smuggler, as I recall you do get a Wookie companion. :)

      I didn’t mention this explicitly in the review, but spaceships are very interesting. They’re player housing, in essence, and a very unique variant at that. I do think somewhere down the road customisation, of at least a nominal cosmetic sort, is incoming.

  12. Raja says:

    I fail to see whats so great about this game, its WoW in space. But hey if I get a new graphics card and a server emulator comes out I might try it but by that time Guild Wars 2 will be out and that is just gonna kill all competition.

  13. Doctor Kash says:

    A few points.

    It is actually not possible to progress in Vette’s storyline if you leave the shock collar on her. If you refuse to remove it, you will get caught in a loop where she won’t speak to you except to ask you to remove the shock collar. It is not possible to, as you suggest, “break her into loving you.”

    Furthermore, the setup for female Sith Warriors is exactly the same, though the option to later romance Vette is forthcoming.

    To accuse a game of rape when it isn’t there is irresponsible.

    • Quinnae says:

      I’ve adjusted the article to reflect this more clearly. Thank you.

    • Deviija says:

      It is not as though it is much better, however. As is, it is still skeevy and a plotline only offered for het dudes for a romance companion of theirs.

      • Doctor Kash says:

        Well, okay, let’s analyze this. Before we start, I’ll lay out that I’m speaking from a big ol’ mound of privilege, as a heterosexual, cisgendered male. I’m also speaking from a big ol’ mound of “I’m a huge damn Star Wars EU nerd.”

        The Sith Empire are unabashedly represented as evil; their behaviors of specism (metaphorically, racism) and institutional slavery are used as the primary warning signs. In fact, many people within the Empire speak out about their discomfort with those two institutional ideas; on top of that, whether you’re a member of the Ruling Elite (Sith), a Governmental Representative (Imperial Agent) or unaffiliated mercenary, you have the option of openly protesting this treatment or even subversively fighting against it.

        Any time you do, you are specifically given Light Side points for it. Big stacks of them. The authors of the game are literally telling you that you are morally correct for fighting the oppressive system in place.

        Conversely, if you are playing as a total jerk, you can keep the collar on Vette (150 Dark Side points), and shock her to your heart’s content (50 DSP, but I’m not sure on that since I couldn’t personally stomach playing that way). Every time you do this, not only does the game literally admonish you for being evil, you’re also mechanically penalized. Vette’s storyline will not continue until you free her, and you won’t gain any Affection with her. Without Affection, you’re nerfed mechanically in combat and on trade skills.

        All the while, Vette is never really broken. She remains defiant, in fact it’s a core part of her characterization. When you first meet her, she is sassing her captor, getting shocked, and STILL SASSING. Vette rejects your domination even when you punish her for it; over time she berates the player, eroding the power fantasy that some people would get with a constant stream of rebuke.

        As you continue to objectify Vette, the game spends more and more time telling you what a piece of shit you are for doing this.

        You’re given the choice between good and evil within the game, and for the latter to be an option there needs to be a variety of evil behaviors. Some games limit evil behaviors to wanton murder/destruction (GTA), but over time the evil becomes laughable and cartoonish. Sith Lords become Snidely Whiplashes, twirling their moustaches as they slaughter hordes of meaningless NPCs. By including something like slavery, and constantly reasserting its evil nature, Bioware has given its token Evil storyline something meatier to consider.

        For its credit, the game is still rated T, and to my knowledge you’re never given the option to abuse Vette other than shocking her. If there are sexual overtones, they’re something we infer ourselves from the trappings. I picked up on sexual overtones, which made me personally uncomfortable with her situation. Even as a mostly dark character, I did away with the collar as soon as I could.

        Also notable is the first Sith Inquisitor companion, Khem Val. Khem Val is also a slave; however, while you could theoretically sexualize Vette, Khem Val is designed to not be sexualized at all. He’s a literal people-eating monster, and isn’t romanceable.

        • Quinnae says:

          Thank you for the benefit of your thoughts.

          It’s always hard deciding what to emphasise within articles like these. I felt that the moral choices- particularly those that give your character the option of combatting or calling out oppression- and especially the fact that you can be a Dark Side Republicer or Light Side Sith, are a strength of the game and lend it a bit more depth.

          The problem, and I should analyse this on my own site one of these days, is that Star Wars has long been a bastion of moral Manichaeism and very given to- as you say, the Snidely Whiplash trope. Sith annoy me just because their evil is so incredibly, unrelentingly shallow. Often as not the worst evil, in the real world, masquerades behind purposes that can be construed as noble. Evil often as not exists in a semi-conscious form, lurking within that which has moral rectitude. While Jedi often “fall” in this way- doing evil things to service a just or noble end- when they complete their fall they all seem to grow twirl-ready handlebar moustaches and wallow in meanness for meanness’ sake.

          I have to play Sith more to see if they’ve deepened things. But I know it will not be as philosophically challenging as KotOR2. I’m also a bit of an EU nerd, although I’ve not read a new EU book in a while, I admit. Still, it’s rare to see Star Wars really going into true moral gray areas. Playing as a Light Sider on the Republic side I find that you are often punished for compromises that real life people have to make. It borders on Lawful Stupid at a few points.

          But yes, I am gratified that, at least, this dyadic moral compass points the right way on issues of racism, slavery, et cetera and you are right to say that the game condemns certain kinds of abuse.

  14. Otterly says:

    Awesome review and I agree with all of the presented points.

    Having jumped at the Smuggler class for its thematics, I was really disappointed with the first companion, Corso, and his blatantly sexist attitude.
    All of the ‘no hitting women’ stuff you mentioned is tame in comparison to some REALLY creepy comments he treats the player with further down the line. Myself and a friend who also plays a female smuggler were absolutely appalled with one of his less classy remarks right at the end of Act 1. It was honestly just disgusting and went a long way to highlight that he is, in fact, an awful person with an awful view on women.
    I honestly don’t get how he’s supposed to be romanceable. He’s deeply jealous and disapproving of my character’s flirting with other men, giving negative rep and making unpleasant remarks whenever my Smuggler shows interest in someone else, despite never having shown any signs of affection for him. It led me to maliciously pick all the worst possible conversation options just to spite him. Unfortunately you only get gameplay-wise equally competent companion characters after hitting 30 so you need to tolerate Corso for a long while.
    He’s the only reason I’d actually recommend not rolling Smuggler if you’re going to play a female character.

    Corso Riggs, you’re a misogynist scumbag and I hate your guts.

  15. lucysnowe says:

    Just got this the other day and I’m… liking it. Not loving it, not blown away by it, but certainly enjoying it far more than I expected to, based on previous WoW/Rift burnout. I do appreciate how they integrated real storylines into the player experience – it definitely feels like a Bioware product in a good way.

    I’m currently playing a low-level Imperial Agent, and thus far haven’t noticed much in the way of -isms, at least none that directly pertain to that storyline. But definitely, the (near constant) female humanoid strippers on Hutta are kind of bizarre – why, exactly, do sentient slug beings get off on the humanoid lady-form? I mean, obviously that’s really more of an issue with the Star Wars universe as a whole (well, or George Lucas being kind of an unimaginative hack) rather than a problem with Bioware, but some sort of in-game explanation would be nice.

    My one major gripe is the lack of romanceable male companions. My one option isn’t really doing it for me, and while the romance aspect isn’t hugely important to me, the fact that a male PC gets two (cute) options to my one (meh) option rankles. Oh, and the graphics are a bit meh, IMO. They just look rather outdated, but I gather that they resemble KOTOR so that might be the point? Just a bit jarring to go to something so cartoony when I’m so used to Rift’s pretty outstanding visuals.

    Eh, I’m really just waiting for The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 to come out, so TOR just has to act as an entertaining placeholder. So far, so good, but I highly doubt I’ll keep playing post-GW2 launch. Of course, at the rate things are going, that might not be till 2016.

  16. Deviija says:

    One of the major reasons why I lost interest in TOR and became disenchanted by it was the lack of same-sex romance. Something confirmed matter-of-fact on a BioWare Pulse interview, in a tone that make me rather uncomfortable (personal thing). This is after the whole ‘there are no such thing as gay(s) in Star Wars’ debacle on the forums in 2009, and it left me feeling pretty cold at how prophetic and right that ‘faux pas’ *was*.

    As mentioned in the review, there is an expectation of heterosexuality/heternormativity in the ‘verse and in interactions with other NPCs and even in the portrayal of NPCs within the world. Far as I’m aware, no same-sex couples, no dialogue options that allow your male Imperial Agent to use seduction skills on another male target for intel, and everything is assumed heterosexual by default. That’s what irritates me the most. That in this diverse ‘verse, a ‘verse that does have cannonical same-sex couples represented in it, can’t even have NPCs that are anything but hetero, let alone offering options for you to roleplay.

    Which brings me to the other related issue — roleplay. The game is touted as being ‘your story’ and the first MMO to offer you to play a character and progress them how to want, and have friendships and rivalries and romance and swashbuckling flirtation and social intrigue, etc. But, oh, the majority of that is only for heterosexual characters. So really, I cannot play a character or weave a story that I want. It is an entirely hetero world where I don’t fit in at all, where I am not even acknowledged.

    It’s great that BW said they’d ‘patch in/update’ with same-sex romances*, but that does not erase how I have felt thus far about everything.

    (*Not to mention that in MMO time, patching in such big tertiary content is likely not to happen any time soon. Years have gone by and games have not seen x feature or y content implemented. So I’ll believe it when I see it. Moreover, I prefer *not* to have it be something that is offered in an Expansion Pack. Pay-for-Gay content is not appealing, especially after purchasing the base game and subscription fees already.)

    • Doctor Kash says:

      I wanted to comment on this issue specifically, and I promise I’m not going after you specifically.

      There’s a whole mess of rumor out there on exactly why homosexuality wasn’t included in retail, some of which would explain why Bioware would make this decision when they’ve traditionally bent over backwards to be inclusive.

      Again, these are rumors, so grain of salt and all that:
      – Bioware was always for inclusion, but EA said no.
      – Or possibly Lucasarts.
      – Another rumor has it that including homosexuality would have pushed it to M from T. You think this is stupid, I think this is stupid, but we’ve seen this flavor of stupid before.
      – The most likely rumor is that Bioware had planned for all this, knowing that one of their partners would prevent inclusion of homosexuality at launch. Therefore, it’s possible that Bioware has already done all or most of the writing/voice acting/scenario design for homosexuality, and is just waiting for the moment when they can pull the trigger. From the statements I’ve heard regarding the dev team, homosexuality is something that they’re adding Very Soon™.

      I’ve always thought of Bioware as a strong ally within the community- as a result, I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      • Korva says:

        Just a heads-up: calling it “bending over backwards to be inclusive” gives the impression you’d rather not have them do it, as well as the impression that it feels forced. Your last sentence balances that out a bit, but I think the phrasing is still a little unfortunate.

        While I agree with you that Bioware has done better than most, it isn’t a single entity anymore, and various people have commented on how it shows in their games and on the forums. David Gaider’s famous and awesome smackdown of the “Straight Male Gamer” as well as the apology for and discussion about the portrayal of transsexual women as jokes/traps were both Dragon Age related. Compare that to Mass Effect, where same-sex content in the first game was limited to women (always a sign that such content is actually aimed at the straight male gaze) and absent from the second game. And didn’t someone from the ME team make a statement that Shepard, the character that is yours to create and roleplay, just isn’t gay — similar to the false “no gays in Star Wars” statement? Now they’re backpedaling and putting it back in ME3, apparently …

        So while I trust parts of Bioware, others I’m more dubious about. And it is ALWAYS good to be skeptical about pre-release claims or claims about future content, I am sad and jaded to say. Dragon Age claim: “there will be many consequences for your actions”. Dragon Age reality: few a small handful of exceptions, you can do whatever you want, no consequences whatsover. TOR claim: “combat will be heroic unlike in other MMOs”. TOR reality: bossfights default to heavily outnumbering a single humanoid who could easily wipe the floor with any one “hero” in three seconds flat without breaking a sweat.

        Long story short: those who are waiting for same-sex content in TOR, don’t hold your breath and don’t get your hopes up before it’s on the PTR and in the patch notes. I hope this issue won’t become the player housing of TOR (player housing being an asked-for feature in WoW since launch, a feature the devs have occasionally mumbled about maybe doing, and there’s still no sign of it 7+ years later).

      • Deviija says:

        There is, indeed, many rumors churning about the rumor mill as to why there are no same-sex romances in TOR. Another being that the company that provides BW’s servers would not allow same-sex romances, and there wasn’t enough time to add them in and switch to new servers before the game needed to be released. But as it is, these are all rumors and I’ve heard them all.

        The point is that one judges the finished product as it is, not as it could have been or should have been or what one developer said they wanted to add into the game. Your product either has something, or it doesn’t. It either alienates people, or it is inclusive. And like I said, this is how it makes me feel with how everything has happened thus far with the PR and community snafus, and what content is currently in the game itself.

        This is definitely not a ‘like, omg, Cindy, I totes hate BioWare and everything they stand for because this one feature in this one game didn’t turn out how I wanted.’ It is simply me judging a company’s product on what is and is not included and how poorly things were handled. Seems rather fair to me.

        I wouldn’t have joined up on the old BioWare forums several+ years ago, posting several times daily with developers and fellow regular posters – and still contributing to this day in exchanges with BW and its developers on BSN – if I didn’t *like* the company or many of the people employed there. :)

        That BioWare is more of an ally than any other company in the mainstream industry does not excuse them from critique or judgement or complaint when they make a mistake. On the contrary, how will they know how to do something better if fans and consumers do not speak up about what is problematic?

      • Capella says:

        I said this in a comment above but I want to reiterate it down here:

        I’m personally on the side of “Bioware wanted it and external factors stopped it”. You see, like many others in beta, I have the XML files of game dialogue which it is comparatively easy to read through, as well as gigabytes of ogg files which it is significantly harder to pick through! And there are pretty clear hints of same-sex romance dialogue that was recorded in there and that just didn’t make it in. For example, I was listening to folders with dialogue between Malavai Quinn and the PC, and there are patterns; it tends to be NPC line, then a female PC line, then the same line with the male PC’s voice acting, and then another NPC line. And there were male voiced versions of the male PC saying some of the exact. same. flirt. lines. that the female PC could use on Quinn. They’re not available options in the launch game, but at least some of them WERE recorded and could be extracted as files from a beta build available as late as July of 2011. Basically: **I don’t think they would have been recorded if Bioware was the one causing problems.** (Now, whether or not we want to take cut evidence that was ripped out of game files as evidence is another argument- but I wanted to toss that fact out there for consideration.)

        • Twyst says:

          Also of note that LucasArts patched out homosexuality in a KOTOR game before, claiming that the female player character being able to romance her was a bug.

  17. Lima Zulu says:

    Perhaps this is me just being silly, but I guess there is some bad in the good. The situation allows for me, in character (I’m on an RP-PvP server) discuss the racial (as well as special? speciesal? in Star Wars context) and sexual and gender issues in a context which many of the people playing might better understand. If they don’t understand why sexism is bad in real life, for instance, maybe I can explain it to them in the context of how it does not make sense for things to happen in the game. And sure, I get loads of responses like, “IT’S THE LORE! DON’T ARGUE WITH THE LORE,” which is of course moronic apologism. Sometimes, though, I can almost hear lightbulbs click (ding?) on in people’s heads and they understand it a little better. I remember on RIFT I did some roleplaying as a social activist, blasting the Guardians for their oversexualized representation of their female leaders (which had more to do with the designers thinking a female general would be best served by a chainmail bikini in battle than her own choices, I suppose), and blasting the Defiants for the dress code they forced on city guards (again, cheesecake on people who are tasked with guarding the friggin CAPITAL of the Defiant domain). Again, some positive and some negative responses.

  18. Laurentius says:

    I post this screen especially for Quinnae as I am interested on her opinion about this (given her previous article about SW patriarchy); it looks like some kind of ingame self-conscious commentary about this, idk, still kind of interesting…

    http://imgur.com/BaysB

    (Chiss Imperial Agent Thal’shea has some observation )

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