Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gay Marriage and Skyrim: Conservatism Takes an Arrow in the Knee

Imagine, for a moment, that a fantasy novel had recently been released.  The book gets tremendous praise in popular media, and is driven by a successful ad campaign...some paid and in the mass media, the rest generated by an eager fan base.   It was a barnstorming, raging success, selling three-and-a-half million copies in its first two months.  It was such a success, in fact, that it was spawning internet memes and fan videos.   Not only that, but it's the kind of book that trickles down to kids, so that many tweens and teens are reading it.

Now think, for a moment, about the reaction of certain elements in American conservatism once they discovered that in this book, same-sex marriage was tacitly endorsed.

One would expect the usual response, the sort of silliness that was leveled against the really-actually-very-Christian Harry Potter books.    Some blogger, somewhere, would get mad about it.  Pat Robertson would say something.  I mean, Pat never misses an opportunity, right?  The Family Research Council would surely issue a stern missive.

But there's been nothing.   Nothing at all.

That's been the response, best I can tell it, to the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the recent multi-million-dollar blockbuster game from Bethesda Softworks.   It's a great, great game, exactly what I'd expect from the folks at Bethesda.  It is deep and complex and beautiful, and after forty hours in, I'm still marveling at how wonderfully and fully realized their vision of this land is.

As part of creating an immersive realistic world, you can, if you so choose, get married.

If you do, you get all sorts of pleasant little perks, none of which are even remotely R rated.  Your spouse will  cook for you if you ask nicely, making meals that restore your health and stamina.   They'll come live with you, assuming you've got a house of your own.  They'll sleep in the same bed you, which accrues bonuses to your well being and ability to learn new things.  It's not called the Cozy Spooning Bonus, but I'm familiar with that effect in the real world.

And you can marry someone of the same gender.

As Bethesda Softworks sees it, this is not a big deal.   This is, after all, a world in which you could also marry an Orc.  Or one of the catlike Khajit, or...although this seems non-conducive to connubial spooning bonuses...a horned, reptilian Argonian.  Not to mention that marrying a lizard would represent a significant escalation in the spousal thermostat wars.

Perhaps the lack of response is because it's not a big deal.

That there are same-sex marriages in Tamriel has no impact on my marriage.   I know they're virtually happening, sure.  But my relationship with my wife is utterly unaffected by hearing about unions outside of our own.  There are factors...like work stress and kid stress and financial stress and the siren song of self-indulgence that pours from our me-centered culture...that can have an impact.  Those need to be called out and resisted, because they do pose real threats to marriage and the deep, covenant relationships that are a blessing from our Creator.

But hearing stories about virtual unions?  It has no effect on my heterosexuality, or on that of my wife.  It does not effect us, or our relationship.  Or on yours.

If you're defending marriage, there are better things to do than worry about what Bosmer and Altmer choose to do.  It just doesn't really change anything.  So I guess folks have just decided to let this one slide. 

A pity those same folks don't realize that's the case outside of the virtual world, too.