Text RPGs: NY Allows Same Sex Marriage - After Text Games

gay nyc

by Shay Andrew

 As a New Yorker, I have a lot to celebrate. I am in what I consider to be the best region of the country, I am usually only a drive away from one of the biggest and most culturally-stimulating cities in America, and I am now allowed to get married. Fortunately, thanks to IRE online rpgs, the idea of gay marriage wasn’t always a distant dream. I’ve been 'out' to my friends and family for several years, and for nearly all of them, my male online characters have created and sustained happy marriages with other males.


 Being gay has always been somewhat of a heavy cross to bear (pardon my pun). As a scrawny boy of 14, my fear of being judged, attacked, or otherwise downtrodden in some malign way for what something I couldn’t control was sometimes crippling. It’s difficult to be social, and more pressingly, confident in order to BECOME social, when this unwelcome pall of society-based, forced inadequacy looms like a rain cloud in every social situation. Being gay in a very straight world was very hard, and to be frank, is still hard sometimes. I could shock you with some of my stories, but that’s another topic for another time...


 It wasn’t all bad, of course; I had, and still have, lots of friends who support me. Now that New York is welcoming the production of same sex marriages, my pride in my state is swelling even larger for all the decisions it’s making, and I sincerely believe that I can count on more forthcoming positive change. The struggle is certainly becoming less all-encompassing. However, despite where I am now, and despite the warm and welcoming crew I had growing up, I still believe that my experiences in the Iron Realms helped me hold out for a brighter future that, until just a month ago, seemed highly unlikely.


 I remember signing onto my first ever online role playing game character in Aetolia for the third or fourth time. I was standing at the popular “hang-out,” North of Thera, when all of a sudden, two men came strolling by, laughing about their impending marriage. Perplexed, I followed them as stealthily as a text game vampire could, and tried to listen to their conversation.


 They noticed me, of course, and though I was the undead and they were members of Shallam (FYI: for those of you who are just now tuning into Aetolia, have never tuned into Aetolia, or just plain don’t really care to ever play Aetolia [even though you should!], Shallam, which is now Enorian, hates vampires because they’re the City of Light), they let me in on their wedding plans (I guess a baby thrall in big, bad Sapience wasn’t really that much of a threat to the two proud knights).


 I remember being amazed that it was allowed. I think I recall asking, bluntly for all of my amazement, “But you can’t really be married, right? Isn’t that just a man and a woman thing?” The knights laughed, benignly, and told me that they’d be having the text game ceremony whether people liked it or not. Low and behold, a few days later, their HONOURS showed the marriage line clear as day (or to my vampire, dark as night!).


 It was incredible. Suddenly, a massive weight just fell off my shoulders in an inglorious heap, and I didn’t even know I was carrying it. My world expanded exponentially as I considered the possibility of someday having not a wife, a predetermined failed relationship with a woman just for the sake of having a family, but a husband, someone I could share my world with comfortably. Those two knights, whose names I sadly cannot recall, reshaped my young mind in ways that only IRE online RPG games could accomplish. I tried in vain to convince myself that it was just a text based roleplaying game and that men couldn’t marry men in real life.


 Then my first male text game character married another male, and they lived happily ever after. I’m glad I wasn’t able to overthrow the dream, despite it being just a text game. Iron Realms Entertainment planted the first seed in my garden of gay rights activism, and I will never, ever forget it. Thank you, IRE, and thank you, New York! 


Shay Andrew is a text game enthusiast who plays addicting games at Iron Realms!


I left New York a few years ago, I found it to be a greedy+corrupt state. Glad to hear things are shaping up.

There are greedy and corrupt people everywhere. >_>

there are greedy / corrupt people everywhere :( NY as a whole isn't corrupt, but theres definitely a "get money" / hustler mentality

Yep, even hear in Germany 

I didn't realize that text games could have a significant impact on the world.

Maybe not to as many people as other media, but text games are still important to the people who play them. The same logic applies to anything!

Iron Realm' games are very LGBT friendly and it quickly becomes normal to see gay and lesbian couples there. It's a very tolerant environment and always nice to see!


it's true!

For someone living in an annoyingly conservative country, it truly is heartwarming. I wish those couples could be as happy in real life.

This is something that I've been impressed with as well. The internet is a scary place for many different groups of people. For instance, being a woman you're constantly told that you can't be a gamer, that you're not welcome in forum settings, and that you don't really know what you're talking about (just because you're a woman). I think that iron realms, especially, is a very equitable setting.


That being said, I enjoy the fact that they have strict policies about harrassment and other things of this nature. I have always been impressed with people in the game and their generally positive outlooks on members of the LGBT community. However, I have noticed that these attitudes are not always present on iron realms' forums. I'm aware of how difficult it is to moderate forums, but the mentality (while it has gotten somewhat better over the years) is not always friendly and inviting.


Case in point, I think that you're going to find that most characters in iron realms are not going to stop being friendly towards you just because you're a member of the LGBT community. I think that the heavy emphasis on roleplay certainly helps to foster a more mature player base. And by that I don't mean that we don't have younger members, but that we have members who understand that their attitudes and actions have an impact on others.

Most of the IREs that I have played have mature playerbase attitudes towards things like same-sex marriages. Of course, having an anti-gay environment would probably be bad for business.

Anyway. Congratulations, New York!

Yay New York. Never thought I'd read that of America

New York is the sixth state to allow gay marriage currently... So it's been able to be read before.


We're slowly coming around. Maybe too slow. But it'll happen.

Just never in Utah.  It'll have to be federal before it's allowed in Utah.  I will (gladly) eat my hat if Utah somehow legalizes Same Sex marriage before the whole of the United States.

what's frightening is that it took that long to change it..

I'm glad the IRE environment is so tolerant of same-sex couples. I'm from just outside the Bible Belt, and I often find very homophobic people here. That really gets under my skin, and I'm glad that my favorite hobby does not promote such things.

I am from the same region and what Kazu says is highly true. In fact, I have to keep my sexuality hidden from a majority of my own family members! They are way to consertative and homophobic and it's really upsetting that a majority of the time I cannot even be myself, so I avoid a lot of family gatherings and the like. Sad I know, but definitely true.

...view it as, "Not any of my business what two consenting people do in the bedroom."


Couldn't agree more. And really, isn't everybody entitled to a little bit of happiness, within reason?


This has become one of my favorite aspects in Lusternia, the fact that same-sex marriages are allowed. I am not gay in RL, but I certainly support those who are. I had no idea that it was so prevalent in Lusternia, though, until I realized that both of my soon-to-be parents were females! I actually like that I have two mothers to turn to, and they are strong and awesome enough that they can protect me just as well as a dad would have. :-)

As someone who has 'two mothers' IRL I had to giggle.


Though I'm straight myself, fact is it's great to hear of other countries being open-minded and accepting of the fact that people fall in love which each other regardless of age, race or sex.


My mum's are not 'legally' married IRL, yet they pay every tax/fee as if they were. It is so odd, and unfair, and backwards.  I will be really happy when it all becomes right and they have the 'blessings' of the situation as well as the downfalls.


And an FYI note:

Just remember guys....... Just because two girls are gonna get it on together, dont get all excited, not all of them are hot.   :p

Thanks for the article!

Really is empowering to show how text games impact people in a way that MMOs like WoW can't.




quite interesting how mudgames can be like the real world

Goes to show text games really can act as a world you can want it to be. Though, like other people said I never expected that of New York.

Nice read. Having had some children in the game get same-sex marriages, it is nice to see places like New-York implementing it in real life. The US still has a long ways to go though.

I tend not to care what other people do in their own bedrooms, text-rendered or otherwise (as long as no innocent is harmed, of course).

I was a little surprised as I've never played games that did have a marriage system and allowed same-sex marriages. I think it is a great step forward. Other games with such systems should set an example and allow it as well. 

.. To hear that Iron Realms helped you cope with the stigma on same sex relationships and to hold up hope that it'll be more widely acceptable!

Yeah, NYC can come off that way a lot but thankfully this is a good start so :)

The two knights--were they Aren and Osifer by chance?

One more reason that Iron Realms delivers to just about everyone something out of life that they need! :D

Hmm. I don't think I've ever seen this in Achaea as of yet. Oh wait, yes I have I think you just can't bloodline yet which is a shame to not even at least be able to adopt someone and add them to your family tree.

Bloodlining vs. Adoption


The Bloodline system is meant only as a roleplaying aid to record biological

blood relations. It is not intended as a record for adoptions. Adoptions

should simply be roleplayed in a normal manner. If you do not wish to imply

that you had intimate relations with someone, you should probably roleplay

adoption rather than bloodlining a child with that person.

It is unfortunate that in Achaea at least it is impossible to formally register adoptions, something like Lusternia's system for familial relations would be a vast improvement.  I don't think it would be practical to change the system now though, there is a lot of data to move that doesn't particularly suit a more flexible form of relationship management.

Delete bloodlining, plz. That way, both adoptions and biological relationships would need to be RP'd and not just "poof, you're my kid". Or make it so that this information can be hidden where the bloodline registry only serves to keep track of your familiy history for your records and without allowing anyone to simply BLOODLINE MORRO to know who my family is without actually RPing with me. The more there is to be gained by actually interacting with other players as opposed to utilizing hardcoded features to learn about them, the better, right?

There is that argument too.


Too my mind a good medium between what we have now and no bloodling at all from an RP perspective would be having records only accessable in Delos (where the bloodline office is, for non-Achaeans) as well as the ability to hide yourself or your family from viewing for a fee.  It would introduce a level of inconvenience to looking people up which should encourage people to talk about familial relations rather than simply looking them up, keep most records open for research and looking up the family of someone who isn't around anymore and allow people who don't wish their information to be public to hide it.

Internet is always more progressive than RL.

This is so cool.

I can't remember any hate-crimes committed in IRE games against the LBGT groups. Which is a great step forward. I never realized how much of an impact that had, either!

I've visited many muds, and often times I don't find the function of same-sex marriages built into their mechanic. IRE has set themselves up with a pretty interesting environment for people like the author in helping them cope with personal burdens on same-sex relationships.

I don't know if it's just that theres less reason to hide in the game (due to anonyminity) or if the fact that the gay marriage is accepted attracts people, but there does seem to be more gay couples in game than I come across in real life. Because of this, I did briefly consider roleplaying a homophobic zealot, but quickly realised that that just wouldn't be fun for anyone involved, and couldn't come up with any in-game reason to justify it. (I'd be quickly (and perhaps fatally) contradicted if I used the only RL excuse that seems to survive today: that god(s) hate it)

Well that and the fact that there are much more interesting things in game to be zelous against. Race for example.

It's so natural that is hard to understand why there are people opposed to it.


Do you know there are tribes where same-sex marriages are not only the norm but a must to be considered a brave warrior and a manly man? Of course, this are temporary marriages (a teen boy with his mentor) and eventually they marry women, but that's not the case. The case is that there are more options than the stereotypes Western people (including Western LGBTetc people) use to think of.


it's sad we have to celebrate something that should be so obviously a non issue. alas.. +1 NY

Sadly enough, the above is way too true..

MUD games have always been more accepting than reality.


In the UK we still don't allow gay marriage, we have civil partnerships which although very similar and provides all the rights of marriage, its still not marriage.

One of the arguments I found rather compelling when I was still considering whether it was a good idea to 'give ground' on this and support civil unions rather than marriages was that the idea of seperate but equal is inherently flawed. There are stigma associated with the term 'civil union' that make it less than ideal even if the two were otherwise completely interchangable (they aren't, though, which is another flaw in the system). Likewise, simply HAVING the different statuses sends the message that we are to be treated differently to the country at large, which is a bit like starting a race a quarter-mile behind where the other competitors do in terms of achieving the long term goals of equality and acceptance.


tl;dr: Civil unions/partnerships suck, go NY, IRE Rules.

IRL I am straight, however, I do support those who are gay.  It was only recently that I noticed that Lusternia had gay mariages.  When i found out I laughed a little because it made me think about how games now days kind of shape the way generations think.

Normally you wouldn't have contraversion politics in a video game, it woul risk the ability to sell to the broader public.  However, that is what I like about MUDs and IRE in general, they appeal to the minority of people who are looking for something outside of the norm. 

If I wanted another HALO ro FINAL FANTASY(even though im a huge fan), there is certainly enough knockoffs nowdays to get my fill of pointless linear storylines.

MUDs have changed the way I think about gaming, sadly they also cost more because I am addicted...but who cares, I love it and its a great escape.

I am glad that MUDs allow users to be free in their desires without any judgement, its pure Role-Play.

Keep the great articles comin!


Words simply cannot describe my happiness about both NY and IRE in this regard.

My own criticism of New yrok aside, things are pretty great right now, aren't they! :D

Fascinating read...huh...the power of Text Games...

did it before san fran

You can thank the Mormon church for that one....

I'm really glad I grew up in a pretty loose environment. I'm basically straight, but on occasion I also find myself attracted to another guy. So I can see where the gay rights people come from, and I would never want that kind of limitation imposed on me. More power to you, sir!

I think that is one of the strongest attractions to a text game - the ability to change your environment to one that you feel comfortable with.

Marriage is really a commitment between two indviduals; gender shouldn't be a factor.

That's all I have to say about that.

Excellent article. :)

I think it's awesome that in every IRE game I've played, never once were you judged for your sexual orientation. In one game, there's even a clan for gays. So awesome.

This article really does resonate well with me, mainly because I'm gay myself and I find the non-linear man and woman relationships across all of the Iron Realm's games extremely welcoming and I can imagine for a lot of the younger players a relief. While it isn't a reality, in a lot of ways it allows people sitting behind the screen to put their own thoughts, feelings and emotions into a character in which they might not be able to express themselves in real life.

My story is that similar, that when I started playing Aetolia not long after it had opened, I was very young myself and noticed that these type of things started cropping up. Men marrying men, woman marrying woman and even the notion of bisexuality rife among Sapience. It seemed like such a flexibile community in an out-of-character sort of way, and in a lot of ways a world in which wouldn't seem so bad to live in if you were really that persona.

I'm just glad Iron Realms doesn't advocate that you should be falling into a certain mold, or indeed it would be like most other communities of people out there.

This is why I always say, for the haters who believe the internet is a scourge on society - you really need to straighten out your facts. It's not a hinderance, its a relief for some people because it is a medium that, if used right, can allow you to express yourself as an individual and let yourself be who you truely are.

Thank you for sharing this as it is important that people my age (14-16) hear these things.


Probably important for several others as well.

In Achaea at least, people barely even bat an eye when they notice the person you're married to is the same gender. It's just taken in stride -- just marriage, not "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage." It's quite lovely.

Totally agreed. Though I wonder if people truly don't care or just decide against expressing their true feelings. Either way, it's a much better atmosphere than most places IRL.

Combinations of both.  Interestingly enough, there remains a moderate stigma against incestuous marriages when its between parents and children but not between siblings or cousins.

I've been an activist for gay rights for longer than I've been an Achaean. When I first started in Achaea, I was impressed with how progressive the people here were. And now, RL imitates fantasy... 



That is really really damn cool O_O

Go NY!

...and out of the closet.

When I first started playing Achaea, a bazillion years ago, I still tried to pretend I was straight. I had real world friends who were playing back then and I wasn't comfortable telling them I was a lesbian. My first character had heterosexual relationships, I recall I even reacted to same-sex couples with some measure of fear. Then I started using Achaea as a venue to explore my feelings. I would not go so far as to say Achaea got me out of the closet, but it helped a scared little girl come to terms with her feelings, because it was a place where I did not have to deal with prejudice.


Congratulations, New Yorkers.



 I remember coming  to Achaea back in 06, and casusally talking to someone who had gotten married to a man. I  didn't find that too odd, but I did find it odd/good that IRE was letting them  actually offically marry and get the honours line and all that jazz!

+100, IRE for all this.

I never got why it wasn't legal in the first place. Seems like a pretty random/ridiculous thing to even care about. 


Edit: I mean random/ridiculous to dislike. Obviously marriage between any two people, regardless of gender, is important, as it's an extension of love.

Completely agree with everything you've said. I love that IRE games don't even really acknowledge real world prejudice. They basically just go - this is how things are, because it is how they should be. Makes me pleased to be part of the community.

I am not gay nor do I have very many close gay friends. I know some gay people in my life. I have always supported their right to be happy and to live how they want to live. When I first started playing Imperian and I found that same sex marriage was allowed, I was relieved. I believe this is a beautiful thing to see and I am glad the creators have such open minds and hearts. I will continue to support in every way I can and I just want everybody to be happy.

One of the greatest things about IRE's games is the standards set in terms of harassment based on OOC style criteria.

Gay, straight, whatever. It's a different world with different stereotypes. If anyone ever crossed the line, I don't doubt they would be met with the full wrath of the administration.

That said, perhaps the most refreshing point is that actual prejudice in game hardly ever rears it's ugly head in any form, certainly not in my experience. Everyone is categorised by the quality of their RP and/or their combat ability/explorer rank etc. I've never met anyone that actually cared wether my character married a man, or particularly if I did. Apart from possibly my first Achaean wife, she was a little miffed.

The environment creates a space whereby the labels of the real world are to some extent left behind and you can be whomever you desire, within limits. What else is RP gaming for if not exactly this?

I've been nothing but impressed with these games. I had a lesbian for a mother growing up (so technically I had two lesbian mothers growing up) and I've turned out perfectly straight, myself, but I fully support the choice to marry whoever you might love. Now I have a father and step-mother to get used to. It's different, but I still love my mom (/dad) to pieces. I only the real world would realize that if their neighbor decides to marry someone of the same sex, it doesn't effect them whatsoever. Whether they agree with it or not, it doesn't do anything to them or their livlihood. They need to learn to just live and let live.

This makes me very happy for two reasons:

1. The states are finally starting to catch up.

2. IRE being such a positive influence in someone's life.

It is so hard to express what these games really ARE, because there are such layers of both in game fun and out of game growth that occur when you get a bunch of different people with different everythings together, roleplaying and talking.


All good things though ^^

The same-sex marriage was a big selling point to me for the game.  It's one of the reasons I've stayed with it for the past eight years.


My first char had a same sex marriage in Imperian

I just stopped thinking about it. It became normal to me to see same-sex marriages in Aetolia, though back in 2006, I was shocked to see more than a few of them. I thought it was a small minority; but considering how many people play a character with the opposite gender as themselves, it really isn't that big of a deal.

I approve of same sex marriage!

that 99% does that plays.

I have watched many marriages fall apart in Achaea mostly from the mixing of real life and roleplay. It seems to me that the same sex marriages stand a better chance of making it. It has broadened my horizons and viewpoints from knowing some very special people in same sex marriages on game. BUT.. one of the saddest things I saw was an older player (irl) took advantage of a young teen player of the same sex, married him in game and introduced him to the ways of a same sex marriage then thoughtlessly abandoned him, leaving him to hurt for a long time. To me this was a very reprehensible thing to do. Luckily the young man whom I respect very much, was resilient and bounced back. We all, myself included, need to remember the very real feelings that can lurk behind the roleplay.

Yet in Achaea, Sirens can only SEDUCE members of the opposite sex...or am I mistaken?

I find some people have a hard time drawing the line between IRE games and real life sometimes on these matters. I don't think the forums help much, since once people see certain people's photos, they instantly get barraged by people who want to meet them and get to know them IG just so they can talk to them OOC.

It is important that games like these allow open expression, and a hint of egalitarianism in them. It is through such acts that we can teach others, as well as learn ourselves of the diversity that is around us. I say thank you Iron realms for being so open and nonjudgmental.  

I have several gay friends, but they don't seem to have any trouble being 'social, and more pressingly, confident in order to BECOME social' - they are very outgoing and friendly, and only idiots dislike them for their preferences.

Still waiting for an artefacts store in Florida.

...in a text-based game will get you slain, (most likely vivasected), and your head piked at the nearest tavern.


I think governments around the world could learn another thing or two from IRE.

Public policy should uphold peoples' right to privacy and their freedoms therein. But then I'm sure the tax on pikes would be outrageous so maybe simply legalizing it is a good enough start for now...

Maybe it's because I'm from Idaho, but I expected more bashing of the LGBt-friendly Iron Realms here. But as I read, comment after comment, I see all positively supporting the LGBT community! It makes me so happy and gives me hope that this way of life is accepted and even seen as great! I love it! Thanks so much people. One day, gay marriage will be legalized throughout America--even Idaho.

Interesting read

I saw my first same-sex couple my third day in Lusternia, my first IRE game, and was mildly surprised, but soon realized that it was commonplace, and, being a Californian, I am very proud that the game I love has made fairer and better, more humane decisions than the government of my own state. But let me stay on the positive note! I always felt that, if you fell in love, other people shouldn"t dictate whether or not you"re allowed to spend your life with this person - except, of course, that person himself or herself. In the text games, I live every day knowing that I can be, love, and marry whom I like. We should all be able to enjoy this freedom, not just in virtual worlds, and it is exhilarating to get a taste of it, even if only through my computer screen. Great article, it made me feel more positive about my state"s - and my country"s - approach to giving everyone the right to love unconditionally. Also, wonderful comments all around!

Not that great.

Oh, it is.


I never knew that IRE had same-sex marriages before a variety of states did. It's good to see though, for sure.



You can't help who you love, even if you try, you just can't help it. I love that Iron Realms allows same-sex marriage. It made my day when I found out, I was so happy. I'm not straight, but I'm a huge suporter of same-sex marriage...

Well in an IRE game, the gender could be different from the RL one and as such there is no reason to prohibit same-gender marriage


Unless the IRE staff was living in a completely different world I see no reason as to why they shouldn't allow it in the first place. Same-sex marriage is as common nowadays as anything else, sadly some folks never want to accept the changes.

I remember being mildly surprised the first time I realized that Achaea allowed it, I was pretty happy too, it's always nice to a see a place of tolerance. I've always believed people should be able to live their lives they way they wish (within reason of course...) without society interjecting what is or is not proper.

When I was around that same age, yes. IRE and the people in them helped me to come to terms with my sexuality, which I am and will be forever grateful for. 

NYC is by far not the best region in the USA. at least not before Pflugerville.

Um why is this here?

Good on IRE

If same sex marrige is allowed why not? I really love my hippogriff!!

Of course you can.



..so.. erm.. right!

not an issue



thank god for civil rights in text-based games

Beautiful story 

What can I say, some people are more open than others, I suppose.