As reported at GamePolitics, the new Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar is being called out for axing marriages due to the assertion that they would inevitably lead to gay marriages, ironic for a company based in Massachusettes.
It is this Salon.com article which has caused all of the ruckus. It is an interesting and well written piece which is well worth a read.
The quote that most people are pulling out as offensive is from Turbine developer, Nik Davidson:
The rule that we tried to follow across the board was: if there’s an example of it in the book, the door is open to explore it. Very rarely will you see an elf and a human hook up, but it does happen; the door is open. Dwarves don’t intermarry with hobbits; that door is shut … Did two male hobbits ever hook up in the shire and have little hobbit civil unions? No. The door is shut.
Tolkien was a conservative Catholic. He went out drinking with C.S. Lewis every night, and the two of them had a worldview that was — well, let’s just say it clashes a little bit with the sensibilities of East Coast liberals who make up the largest population of Turbine.
First, are you telling me that every aspect of LotR: Online can be found in the book? I'm sure there are some game elements that deviate from the framework of the book. To use such draconian logic to justify the disinclusion of marriage will come back to bite Mr. Davidson in the rear when somebody points out that, hey, that shape of hobbit house wasn't found in the book...or...hey, those mithril shinguards aren't in the book. You get my drift.
Second, isn't this supposed to be a user-created game, using the framework of the book? I mean, how do you disprove a negative such as "Did two male hobbits ever hook up...?" I don't know. I mean, if the shire is a living, breathing world, then how can you count that out?
Third, yes, it is well known that Tolkien was a conservative Catholic and that the tenets of that religion dictate that gay marriage is wrong. But how do we really know what Tolkien thought of gay marriage? Particularly for such an imaginative fiction writer, how do we know that he wouldn't have allowed his characters to do whatever they pleased...I mean they did drink, smoke, and eat three breakfasts.
Fourth, did you just really use the phrase East Coast liberals? Do you drive Volvos to work and drink $4 lattes. C'mon. I understand that Turbine is based in Massachusettes and that the state approves of gay marriage, but why pit the phrase "East Coast liberal" against "conservative Catholic"? It just reeks of intellectual laziness and stereotypical world views.
I'm just so sick of companies taking the easy route. The notion that "we won't include any marriages in the game because there may be gay marriages" is simply silly. Who cares? If you don't want to participate in the ceremony, then you don't have to.
It's a computer game. People are already lying about their gender, age, etc. when playing it, so why take a real world issue and give it credence in a virtual environment?
All I have to say is WWGD (what would Gandalf do)?