In addition to being named "Worst Company in America" by The Consumerist, game publisher EA has come under fire from Christian activist groups for including same-sex relationships in its games. A letter lead by the Florida Family Association has accused the company of corrupting children and giving in to pressure from LGBT groups, according to Game Industry International.
EA has reportedly received "several thousand" letters and emails protesting the homosexual content found in its games, the video game news site reported. The titles that received the most flak happen to be some of the company's best-selling games, "Mass Effect 3" and "Star Wars: The Old Republic."
However, EA has said that it has no plans to censor its material.
"Every one of EA's games includes ESRB content descriptors so it's hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content," Jeff Brown, VP of corporate communications told Game Industry International. "This isn't about protecting children, it's about political harassment."
Some of the letters also accuse the video game company of deleting posts against LGBT issues on its official forum. However, some of these posts were said to violate the forum's discussion rules on hate speech, the report said.
"EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games," Brown also said to the publication.
He did say that the company has met with LGBT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players.
"In short, we do put the options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don't tolerate hate speech on our forums," he also said.
Matt Kane of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) spoke to the larger issue at hand when talking to Game Industry International.
"A lot of game makers are realizing that in order to create a believable universe it has to be a universe that is very diverse, and in some ways it sort of reflects the make-up of the culture we live in as well. I think it's very logical that you'll start to see more LGBT characters appearing in games."
Here's a look at some of the top LGBT characters to surface in the gaming industry over the years.
1. Steven Cortez from "Mass Effect 3." This character can be found in the Normandy's Shuttle Bay, and his primary duty is handling requisitions for Commander. Cortez is one of the romanceable characters in the game, but this is only possible when playing as male Commander Shephard.
2. Voldo from "Soul Calibur." This may not be as overtly obvious as Cortez and other characters, but there have been speculations that the creature from this classic fighting game is homosexual. From his tight-leather strapped getup to his ongoing loyalty to his "master," it is certainly possible that Voldo can be interpreted in a homosexual context.
3. Birdo from "Super Mario Bros. 2." This pink dinosaur-esque character is one of the most widely-perceived LGBT gaming characters. The original character sheet in the game's manual reads the following: "He thinks he is a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth."
4. Alfred Ashford from "Resident Evil Code Veronica." The villain in this zombie-slaying horror survival game ends up being obsessed with his dead twin sister. Obsessed to the point of dressing like her, that is.
5. Tails from "Sonic." There has always been some debate on whether or not Tails is a boy or a girl, with gamers still unsure of the character's gender. He also does admire Sonic a lot, but there is no hard evidence that this is a homosexual connotation. It's up to fans to decide for themselves.
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