Electronic Arts says it’s received several thousand letters protesting the company’s incorporation of LGBT themes within games such as Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: the Old Republic. The company says it has no plans to censor its games – and at least three celebrities (at least two of them real) have come out in support of the Redmond giant’s stance.
“If you do 0 else today, do join me and @Yoda to help game-maker @EA stand strong against anti gay-hate & the dark side,” tweeted podcasting pioneer, actor and comedian Stephen Fry (opens in new tab), known in the US for his work in films such as Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and games including LittleBigPlanet and Fable III. He refers to a petition (opens in new tab) at LGBT rights site Allout.org, which aims to employ Yoda (?) to deliver messages of support to EA for its inclusion of LGBT themes. At time of writing, the petition’s frozen after a hacker attack, just short of its target of 75,000 signatures.
Above: Brooker (left) and Fry (right). Don’t worry, we hadn’t heard of them either until we did
“Good for @EA for telling the homophobes to fuck off. Petition [at allout.org] or you could just tweet @EA,” echoed presenter and ex-PC gaming journalist Charlie Brooker (opens in new tab), whose shows such as GamesWipe and Black Mirror have commented on games alongside other contemporary media and whose column in the Guardian often comments (opens in new tab) on gaming (opens in new tab) in pop culture (opens in new tab).
Responding to allegations of pushing an LGBT agenda and deleting anti-gay comments from its forums, EA’s Jeff Brown says (opens in new tab) the company “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.”
Allout stresses that its petition is not affiliated with EA, which was the first gaming company to contribute a video (opens in new tab) to the “It Gets Better” project. It’s been pointed out elsewhere (opens in new tab) that while the company’s stance is laudable, its own output isn’t free from potentially homophobic content. “We are not arguing that Electronic Arts is a perfect company,” explained (opens in new tab) Allout’s Andre Banks, “but we know that today, on this issue, they are taking an important stand that should be celebrated and supported.”
Previous campaigns have failed to change the pro-LGBT politics of corporations such as Starbuck’s and JC Penny. Allegations (opens in new tab) that the Rebel Alliance itself was pursuing a pro-LGBT agenda could not be confirmed at press time; but if the anti-EA Family Research Council wants to just outright compare itself to Emperor Palpatine and friends, we’ll let that one slide.