The video game producer Electronic Arts (EA) has been inundated with letters from conservatives opposed to the company’s inclusion of LGBT content in recent games like Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, including threats of boycotts and accusations about pressure from LGBT organizations. Showing no signs of capitulating to their demands, EA’s vice president of corporate communications, Jeff Brown, rebuffed the complaints as well as the anti-gay harassment that has plagued gaming message boards:
BROWN: Every one of EA’s games includes ESRB content descriptors so it’s hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content. This isn’t about protecting children, it’s about political harassment.
EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games. However, we have met with LBGT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don’t tolerate hate speech on our forums.
Unsurprisingly, one of the primary sources of the complaints is the one-man nothing-but-boycotts “group,” the Florida Family Association, which won itself national attention for its pressure to boycott advertisers on All-American Muslim last December. Most of FFA’s campaigns target LGBT-inclusive companies, and its only employee, David Caton, regularly fabricates the success of these efforts. Recently, FFA called for a boycott of EA and its subsidiary BioWare, suggesting they might add “Darth RuPaula” — drag queen RuPaul as a sith lord — as a playable character kids could access in its games.
Not to be left out, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins also spoke out against the LGBT-inclusive game, suggesting “the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!” (The irony is probably lost on Perkins that Emperor Palpatine and his servants were the villains in the Star Wars universe.) He called on his fellow social conservatives to add their public comments to the game’s website, the same forums Brown explained had to be managed for anti-gay hate speech.
The tactics of hate groups like FRC is to outright deny the existence of the LGBT community, as if the very reality that people are gay or bisexual is harmful to children. Perhaps Perkins or Caton can construct their own virtual reality that is straights-only, but EA should be applauded for making sure all of its players feel welcome in the gaming world.