Entertainment software company Electronic Arts is under fire for including same-sex relationships in its new video game, "Star Wars: The Old Republic."
Thousands of emails and letters have been sent to the Redwood City, Calif.-based company to protest the inclusion of gay characters after the Florida Family Association sent out an email alert in March. FFA argues that a large percentage of video game players are children "who do not need to be introduced to this propaganda." FFA called on its supporters to contact BioWare, the parent company of Electronic Arts, EA and Lucas Films.
"These LGBT activists want children and young teens to be able to choose Star Wars action characters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This would mean: children and teens, who never thought anyway but heterosexual, are not given a choice to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in their game player," FFA warns.
"There were no LGBT characters in any of the Star Wars movies," the group also highlighted.
In January, Washington-based Christian lobbying group Family Research Council also warned parents about the Star Wars: The Old Republic game. FRC President Tony Perkins said on his radio show, "In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!"
"The new videogame, Star Wars: The Old Republic, has added a special feature: gay relationships. Bioware, the company that developed the game, said it's launching a same-sex romance component to satisfy some complaints. That surprised a lot of gamers, since Bioware had made it clear in 2009 that 'gay' and 'lesbian' don't exist in the Star Wars universe."
According to a March 5 FFA email, Bioware had initially declined to include same-sex romance in its games, but LGBT activists threatened to boycott the company's product if it didn't include homosexual content.
But Jeff Brown, vice president of corporate communication of EA, said that the company was not pressured by LGBT groups, but acknowledged that comments on forum that criticized EA on the issue were deleted.
"We have met with LBGT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums," Brown told GameIndustry International. "In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don't tolerate hate speech in our forums."
"Every one of EA's games includes ESRB content descriptors so it's hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content," said Brown. "This isn't about protecting children, it's about political harassment."
Although EA intends to include same-sex relationships in some of its games – including Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 – the feature is not available yet and will be added in the future.