Okay fine, there’s not much diversity per se because we fall into one of three categories: Straight, bi or gay. Well, before I continue, I figured that another article about how diverse characters on Guild Wars 2 will be based on traits/races/professions/weapons/skills/play styles or any combination of the six will just be rehashing what everyone is saying and it doesn’t really contribute much for discussion. We’ve already established that very well, thank you very much, so let’s move on.
I decided on a topic that’s rather personal to me because being gay and a gamer, I was very pleasantly surprised with the way ArenaNet decided to handle this controversial issue. Drawing your attention to Ree’s interview with Wartower during Gamescom 2011, she was asked about the relationships between sylvari since everyone was making a mountain out of a molehill regarding the fact that the sylvari don’t have the ability to reproduce despite having the proper physical parts and the fact that Caithe and Faolain were hinted at being lovers.
When commenting on the obvious homosexual relationships between sylvari, she said:
“They fall in love with the person that inspires them, or that brings joy to them, and they don’t think ‘Does this person have the same biology as me?’ any more than they would think ‘Does this person have dark skin?’ or ‘Does this person have pale hair?’ or ‘Does this person have blue eyes?'”
And when giving an example of you chasing away a bully and the victim’s partner coming over to offer his gratitude:
“We don’t mention that they are both male because it doesn’t matter. We’re not trying to promote homosexuality or put it out there like it’s a surprising thing. It’s just part of life. There’s no reason to call it out. You’re going to see sylvari in various places throughout the world in heterosexual relationships. We don’t say anything about them. It’s completely normal, and that’s how we’re treating the other relationships in our game as well. Just normal. Why would we call it out or make it a big thing? That’s love.”
While reading through Ree’s answer – god, I love her even more now – what struck me was how true it was. I always thought it was normal to make a big deal out of being gay – equality and all – but her very objective reply made me look at it in a different way. Ree sits in her ivory tower, carefully observing the field and calling out people on both sides.
On one hand, why discriminate against gays? People have the freedom to love who they want to love. We were born this way. Let freedom ring!
On the other hand, is it always necessary to kick up a big fuss and plaster a ‘discrimination’ tag over everything that’s vaguely homophobic? If it’s really a social norm as you say, why purposely call it out?
Yes, we won’t be able to form a relationship, get married and have cute McDreamy babies but I appreciate ArenaNet’s gesture in offering us gay gamers an “option” to feel included. And though it’s a very subtle thing and we’re not going to be sucking the faces of same-gender NPCs but at least I know I’m accepted because the game has defined it as such.
On a side note: I won’t roll a male sylvari because I only create gorgeous characters so it’s definitely going to be a female. If I ever were to RP anything – which is never – it’s going to be on my male human. Sadly, he’s probably no Patrick Dempsey – GORGEOUS! – but ANet, if you can give us Gong Li (screenshot – see below – /Google image) in Factions, you can definitely try to sneak in Patrick. Or maybe Darren Criss, or Joel McHale (obligatory Community reference) perhaps? They’re both so very good looking. Pretty please?
I could have asked for the silver fox of Hollywood a.k.a George Clooney… just saying.
And shame on you BioWare, I’ve been waiting for same-sex relationships in SWTOR since it launched and it hasn’t seen the light of day. Shame on you.
Back to the topic, to be fair, I haven’t had any bad experiences in MMOs regarding my sexuality. Mostly because it didn’t come up; the first time I actually told anyone was to a lesbian friend of mine on WoW (my first MMO) but that was it. And the most recent examples were in SWTOR where I just told a guy that I “didn’t swing that way” when he was talking about girls and I admitted it when another guy asked me point-blank after I blatantly gushed about Ewan McGregor. In case you’re curious, they were very cool about it.
Honestly, I think I might have been scared back then. And the community in WoW aren’t a bed of soft, rosy petals either. But in retrospect, I realised that yeah, no one knows who you are so why does it matter if some ignorant prick starts slinging homophobic slurs at you? Just be the better person, shrug it off and walk away.
But I still can’t help but feel that the gaming community is dominated by bigots/testosterone-pumped douchebags and that there is still a stigma on female/gay gamers. I know the world is changing and so is the community but stereotypes exist for a reason; although the ones that prove it right are probably just a minority now.
In any case, major props to ArenaNet for not only trying to change the landscape of MMOs and innovate the genre but also for providing a haven and a place of acceptance for us. Thank you also for promoting the fostering of close bonds between the community and creating a place where we feel safe, accepted, loved and welcomed.
I may sound presumptuous because there may be other groups of people that you guys are advocating for but they haven’t been called out yet but just know that I have nothing but respect for the work and the piece of art that you guys have created. Let me raise a goblet-ful of pink sparkle ponies and six-colored rainbows to the success of Guild Wars 2.
Now, if you will only please sell your Collector’s Edition at a local retailer in Singapore so I can throw my money at you. You guys deserve it.
To The Readers: What are your views on this manner of diversity? Do you like the subtly of it? Do you think people will notice / be bothered at all? Do you think same-sex couples will be limited to just the sylvari or will we see them in the other races?
About the author: A self-proclaimed geek, Damagedself constantly straddles between the two very different worlds of gaming and entertainment. While not slinging fireballs from his sexy female Elementalist, he’s swooning over Darren Criss on Glee. He loves watching television and enjoys the witty dialogues of Grey’s Anatomy. Constantly fantasizes on how the hospitals of Singapore would be more enjoyable if the doctors were as gorgeous as the fake ones on Grey’s.
Edit: Check out LadyVerene’s post on the same subject here: http://paletree.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/guild-wars-2-not-as-straightforward-as-it-seems/ !!