By Zack Jenkins
Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews and feedback in pre-releases, the action role-playing game Mass Effect 3 has drawn another round of criticism from conservative family groups. The game offers the option of playing out a gay story line between main characters.
One user commented on a message board, “In order to choose the gay option you have to choose between ‘I’m just waiting for the right man’ and ‘I’m just waiting for the right woman.’ Guess which one is the gay option if you are a male? Ya, you’re not going to make out with somebody you don’t want to. Don’t worry.”
After a video of the “sex scene” (really a hand-hold, kiss, and two shirtless men spooning) leaked on YouTube, the comments were quick to raise an alarm and let BioWare know that some viewers were offended. The video was soon disabled, but since the game’s official release, much of the online community has been indifferent to the option since it is just that…an option.
Though it was probably not the intention of BioWare to make a political statement, their games in the past have sought to reflect reality in demographics when designing their fantasy worlds. This begs the question of why sexuality shouldn’t be part of that character description, just as they did in Star Wars Old Republic, one of the most expensive games ever developed (estimated around $200 million) and fastest subscribed massive multiplayer online games ever.
Why would these huge games go gay, though? What’s in it for them? To put it simply, more money. The goal is to create a virtual simulation community that is based on fantasy, mimics reality, and will set precedents for future games to sell better. Making the games more realistic (despite their fantasy nature) and bringing in more users that can create characters and lives that reflect their own more accurately means more money for BioWare.
The Canadian video game company stated they “wanted to be more inclusive.” At a Microsoft spring showcase, executive producer Casey Hudson mentioned that BioWare “wanted to take steps towards responding to some of the feedback we’ve had…to be more inclusive. So we do have same-sex relationships for male and female.”
In an Xbox 360 News comment one user said, “I don’t think characters being gay or straight or anything in between is even close to an issue. The fact that it has taken this long for the game to ‘go all the way’ is a reflection on the Fox-news style media and the taboos (such as interracial kissing in films at one time) which have existed and still exist throughout our diverse society.”
In an effort to make their series one of the most compelling and dynamic MMOs in recent years, BioWare has stood behind their decision to include the same-sex option in the game. For the most part, users have been supportive, calling the option a “non-issue” and praising BioWare for making what appeared to be “a logical choice.”
Check out the PG-13 romance below.