Gender Dynamics in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic was released in December 2011 and has been given an expansion Rise of the Hutt Cartel in spring 2013. This Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) presents ambivalent gender dynamics when it comes to female representations. The game draws from both the Star Wars universe, in which it is inscribed, and also from the EA/Bioware tradition, as it was created after franchises such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

Regarding non-playable characters, it shows that just like their male counterparts, the female ones can range across a large age span, and be either good or villain characters. For example, two elder non-playable female characters appear of significant interest: General Garza for the trooper class and Jedi Master Yuon Par for the Jedi Consular class.
In terms of non-playable characters (NPC), it is also worthy or exploring the (small) number of female companions offered for each classes, and how they are organized in terms of demographics (age, species, ethnic origins, behavior, class) and of storyline , including whether they are romance-able.

Another aspect of the female character’s portrayal in Star Wars: The Old Republic that adds to the ambivalent development made for that game lies in the romantic sections of the storyline. Not only does the original game allow for only heterosexual combinations – in opposition with franchises such Dragon Age and Mass Effect – but it also seems to display limited kinds of interaction when it comes to the possible romance options for the playable character. First of all, only nine male companions are romance-able for a female character, while there are eleven female ones for a male playable character. Secondly, the main dynamic that seems available for those romances for a female character fall into the realm of a strong woman paired with a more submissive man, which doesn’t really convey the impression of an equal type of match.

It seems interesting to point out that the playable storyline for all classes remains overall the same for both genders, which brings a sentiment of gender equality, at least in terms of narrative. Indeed, the looks of said female characters while highly customizable, still retains a large choice of possibly openly sexualized/seductive looks for them. Physical cliché related to body shape, i.e. the only ‘weight’ allowed is in the chest, nowhere else, still runs though, which is consistent with how things have been in terms of character creation in other Bioware productions.

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