The Average Gamer

Mass Effect 3 To Include All Gay Options

BioWare’s Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect series has just confirmed on Twitter that, contrary to previous reports, Mass Effect 3 will contain more gay romance options.

Twitter Screenshot: "Happy to confirm #ME3 supports wider options for love interests incl. same-sex for m&f chars, reactive to how you interact w/them in-game."

BioWare has historically been extremely supportive of inclusive game design and writing. You may remember the story from a few months back about a BioWare forum poster complaining that the historical core audience of “Straight Male Gamer” was no longer being privileged and that Dragon Age 2 should have included a “no homosexuality” option for players like him. At the time David Gaider (lead writer, Dragon Age 2) posted a polite yet firm response informing him that yes, other gamers are people too and that they deserve no less attention. Of course, some people do take issue with the portrayal of gay people in the Dragon Age universe but the fact that such a high-profile title had gay romance options at all was a comfort to many.

Until now, the Mass Effect has been disheartening in its straight-male-centric focus. Yes, Miranda and female Shepard are inspiring women who kick ass and take names with the best of gaming protagonists. However, as I’ve blogged before, Miranda’s scenes are rife with male gaze pandering. So far, the closest that Mass Effect came to providing homosexual romance options was to allow all players to experience a sex cut-scene with Liara T’soni, an asexual non-human from a race which just happens to be comprised exclusively of beings shaped like human women. And they like to work in strip clubs. This is heteronormative titillation at its worst.

The new announcement reveals a drastic change in direction for the romance options in Mass Effect 3. As recently as last month, Hudson was saying to PC Gamer that “we don’t really have new characters that are part of the romance stuff in the way that we did in Mass Effect 2… …this is more about how you, if you’re a new player, how you start these romances with the existing characters.”. I’m glad that BioWare has chosen to add male and female gay options to the Mass Effect universe after all. Not only will this result in many gay gamers feeling more included, it’s just good for role-playing.

Hudson has also said that the Mass Effect 3 romance options won’t all necessarily be permanent squad members. Sounds great to me – having played KOTOR, KOTOR 2, both Dragon Age and both Mass Effect games, the restriction of meaningful character interactions to party members was beginning to feel a little stale.

I just hope that these non-party romance options are a little more exciting than the inadequate brothel affairs of Dragon Age 2. How would you like the extended romance options to play out?

Update 16th May 2011: Hudson has just clarified that there will definitely be new love interests available for ME 3. Some sites have speculated that NPCs previously thought of as straight will be revealed as bisexual. According to Hudson, this is “not necessarily true”.

Yes, that’s is neither a full confirmation nor a denial. Dialogue is far from complete and the Mass Effect team are keen to hear feedback.