A bit of a kerfuffle has erupted in the community surrounding the forthcoming Star Wars MMO: The Old Republic, after a representative from developer Bioware denied that homosexuality exists in the Star Wars universe.
Community manager Sean Dahlberg closed a thread discussing terminology like “gay,” lesbian,” and “homosexual” in the Star Wars universe with the words: “As I have stated before, these are terms that do not exist in Star Wars. Thread closed.”
It’s incensed the LGBT community that surround the game, who’ve pointed out that not only is that irrelevant to the discussion that was taking place, but that Juhanni, a woman in Knights of the Old Republic (a game also developed by Bioware), had a female lover.
The discussion has reopened in a thread here, which has spanned out to 56 pages, though at the time of writing it seems to have devolved into a flamewar. Homosexuality can be a difficult subject to approach in a videogame, but shutting down all discussion of the topic is deeply offensive, and shouldn’t occur.
Over the weekend, you might have noticed steam pouring out of Twitter and the blogosphere as Amazon customers reacted furiously to the news that the bookselling colossus seemed to be censoring gay and lesbian content from its bestseller lists and search algorithms.
An early response from customer service seemed to indicate that this was a policy change of some sort – that gay and lesbian content had been recategorized as ‘adult’, and therefore hidden from many parts of the site. A company statement later referred to the problem as a ‘glitch’.
But what really happened, claims an anonymous Amazon employee, was simply human error from an employee in France. He had filled out a field incorrectly in the database and 57,000 items were suddenly tagged as “adult”.
Poor Amazon employees were called back from their Easter break and worked on the issue until midnight on Easter Sunday, when it was handed over to the international team. I imagine there’s a certain French staffer who’s on the receiving end of an awful lot of angry emails today.
In the meantime, let’s have a little calm when this sort of thing happens in the future, shall we? Innocent before proven guilty, and all that?