Makeb, the gay planet, is the sort of problem that comes about when a series of perfectly reasonable to a very weird place. For Bioware, this journey began when the company made love an option in its massively multiplayer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The developers created ten male characters and ten female characters, a nicely symmetrical field of potential romantic interest.
But for some reason, the nature of those relationships was limited to heterosexual interaction only – an odd e-sex relationships in its Mass Effect and Dragon Age titles. Immediately, the team announced that it would be updating its romantic content, but early in e’s executive producer, Jeff Hickman warned that this was going to be a complex process, and hinted that compromises would be necessary. And the compromise is Makeb, the gay planet, available only via download – and the only place in the galaxy where relationships can be formed with NPCs of the same gender.
You can see the well-meaning thought processes involved in trying to fix this narrow issue. We need to put gay character options in the game. We’ll do that through DLC so it doesn’t impact on the existing world. We’ll put them all in one easily accessible place. And thus: a gay home world, a segregated community available only to high-level paying players. Unsurprisingly, this has attracted some ridicule.
There’s a wider issue here about what games assume their players want. In Funcom’s conspiracy-led MMO, The Secret World, players in the Dragon faction will experience the same sexually charged opening scenario with a female partner, whether they want it or not. Read more