“…Yah, it’s called lying. Or when you’re married, it’s called communication…”

28 04 2007

Salon.com, a news/blog site, has a far-too-verbose article up about the absence of marriage in Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. Specifically, the article reveals that, during Beta testing of the game, Turbine was tampering with the idea of adding marriage to the virtual middle-world. This lead to a heated debate about whether or not to allow for same-sex and inter-species marriage. To resolve the issue, they removed the feature entirely. According to the article, Turbine wanted to stay authentic to the Tolkien mythology–we all remember the grey squirrel fiasco.

Despite going into unnecessary detail about the history of gay gaming–seriously, NannyMUD does not count–the article does raise some interesting questions. Specifically, where is the line between authenticity and limiting the role-playing elements of a role playing game. The write, and many people quoted in the article, makes the assumption that, because Tolkien’s religious beliefs would not have allowed for good ol’ GLBT lovin’, he wouldn’t have really ever thought about it and therefore the whole issue is sort of a non-event. I’m not really sure how that makes sense. Not to say that fact is true or untrue, but how would that in anyway effect how accepting the game is now towards homosexuals? Worrying about authenticity seems a little strange when Tolkien’s family has always been against commercialising Middle Earth lore, especially Tolkien himself.

As much as I would love to claim that gaming has become more progressive in the last ten years–acceptance of all differen’t kinds people coming together to frag the shit out of each other–homophobia is a huge part of game culture. I have never played an online game that didn’t have homophobic messages texted or voiced. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done it, and I probably still do it without thinking sometimes. Saying “you fag” or “that’s so gay” is so common in those circles, to the point that I’m pretty sure I started saying those phrases because Unreal Tournament made me inundated to them.

I’m not saying that Turbine refused same-sex and inter-species marriage because they’re homophobic. The authenticity aspect is probably a legitimate reason, but I highly doubt it’s the only one. I just don’t see what the problem is, really. Dwarves are totally gay.





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