When Lucasfilm Games first announced Star Wars: Eclipse with a breathtaking cinematic reveal trailer last week, fans had nothing but good things to say about the upcoming High Republic-focused game. However, discussions online quickly turned to Quantic Dream – specifically how problematic a Star Wars game developed under the company truly was for Star Wars fans.
Quantic Dream’s abusive history includes but is certainly not limited to deliberately excluding LGBTQ+ characters from its games. Reports of toxic behavior of many forms reach all the way up to the company’s founders. It’s in part CEO David Cage’s derogatory comments toward members of the LGBTQ+ community that have sparked major backlash not against the game itself, but against Lucasfilm Games’ partnership with the controversial studio.
Fans are using the Twitter hashtag #BlackoutStarWarsEclipse to raise awareness of the dangers the partnership holds for the LGBTQ+ Star Wars community in particular. Because the game is reportedly still years away from release, there is ideally still time for Lucasfilm Games to find a different studio to develop the project, and those against Quantic Dream’s role want to be heard.
Pink Milk podcast co-host Bryan was greatly troubled by Lucasfilm Games’ decision to partner with a company associated with CEOs who do not uphold the values Star Wars itself preaches. He spoke to Dork Side of the Force about his concerns and the intent behind the hashtag.
“I love what they’ve been doing in the books and comics, I really do. I appreciate what the authors, illustrators and everyone involved is doing to open a door to a wider galaxy. But when things like this happen it makes, at least me, feel like I’m good enough in fiction but not in the real world… That’s how this feels, it feels like Lucasfilm is saying, ‘We can change publishing, but film and video games is just too hard, sorry.'”
Bryan worries that in a Star Wars game created on such a large scale, marginalized groups will once again be pushed aside to appeal to a wider audience where not everyone is made to feel they belong.
“Video games, when successful, are treated with the same level of marketing as movies. I think Lucasfilm needed to reach a larger audience than perhaps they do with books and comics… And that’s where the real problem lies, that is where, being marginalized people, the most discrimination happens; at least the way I see it. We’re relegated to the shadows.”
In recent years, Lucasfilm has been praised for being more inclusive, especially in its celebration of more underrepresented groups in The High Republic. The problem, Bryan says, is that the people these characters are meant to uplift still aren’t treated with the same consistent care as everyone else.
“We are marched out to be celebrated a few times a month. We are lifted up when the social climate says it’s OK. But the minute it looks like things are going to be tough or a little money may be lost, we are pushed back to the shadows.”
Fans are rallying together in support of the protest against Star Wars: Eclipse‘s creation, calling for Lucasfilm Games to partner with a different studio that will support and highlight Star Wars fans of all identities, and ideally one that doesn’t create a toxic work environment for its employees.
They want Star Wars: Eclipse to happen. They just don’t want Quantic Dream involved. And they want Lucasfilm to take action.
“I think at the very least if Lucasfilm made some sort of statement acknowledging that they heard us and have looked into it, [it] would make those of us who are hurt and/or frustrated, at least feel recognized in real life. In a way that feels tangible,” Bryan said.
Representatives from Lucasfilm Games have yet to comment on fans’ concerns. A trending hashtag on Twitter, however, has the potential to make those in control of positive change aware of how fans are reacting to the working relationship between Lucasfilm and Quantic Dream.
Bryan clarified that his hope for more representation in all parts of Star Wars is about more than just seeing himself in a video game. And #BlackoutStarWarsEclipse is about seeing positive change for the future of Star Wars storytelling as well as those who consume these stories.
“I am looking forward to future queer characters with just as much complexity and presence as we’re getting in the High Republic on screen,” he said. “That’s what I want. I want mainstream Star Wars fans, from the super-fans to the casual fans, to see those characters. I want people to see us on a screen to normalize us in what is arguably the most recognizable franchise.”
Changing the way different people are represented in Star Wars beyond traditional publishing, fans believe, will be beneficial for everyone, not just people like Bryan who feel hurt by Quantic Dream’s involvement in the project.
“For me, representation more often than not is not for me, it’s for people who are not like me. I want people who are not like me to see stories about people like me. As a queer person, I understand that there are people that don’t know queer people, or don’t know they know a queer person. I am someone who’s hopeful, I’d like to think most people want to be kind to one another and I want to believe that most people are good. I think with something like Star Wars, our stories as queer people can be opened to a very large audience. And because it’s Star Wars, they may be more willing to stay tuned.”
Star Wars fans ask that anyone in support of #BlackoutStarWarsEclipse tweet using the hashtag this Friday, January 7 to raise awareness of the harm Lucasfilm Games’ partnership with Quantic Dream has already brought to the community.