Mass Effect 3 and the Gay Card

In a Quarter to Three article called "BioWare plays the gay card," Tom Chick explains why having same sex relationships in games like Mass Effect 3 is the right thing to do in this day and age. He also takes a few shots at the clumsy relationship mechanics and writing in the game. First he offers some examples of how male Commander Shepherd doesn't flinch when a crew member on the Normandy talks about his husband.

"In the Normandy’s engineering bay, crew member Cortez talks about the fate of his husband, killed in an attack by invading aliens. Cortez is a dude. With a husband. Shepherd doesn’t bat an eye as yet another 'how’s your family?' dialogue unfolds. It’s clumsy, but only because it’s by BioWare. Not because it’s about a gay couple. Part of the beauty of BioWare is that they’re equal opportunity clumsy writers, regardless of sexual orientation."

There's another moment he describes on the Citadel Station where a woman talks to Sheppard about how her family doesn't like her Asari (an all female race) lover and how it's causing a bit of tension. I'm sure there are a number of other examples where dialogue like this is accepted by Shepherd without much reaction, because in the future maybe the hang-ups people have about these things have disappeared.

As Chick points out, BioWare has been offering these open-ended relationships for years in games like Dragon Age and earlier Mass Effect titles. There was some drama from several family advocacy groups over the ability to have same-sex relationships in Star Wars: The Old Republic recently because "Star Wars is for the whole family." I'm not sure that that assertion is true, but their main objection is over players having the (optional) ability to have gay and lesbian relationships…

There are several paragraphs of Chick's personal reflections that drive his point home in the rest of the article (like a moment at school where bullies push him into the dirt and tell him that "his mom loves gay people"), which I encourage you to go read for yourselves, but the closing paragraph sums up his point neatly enough:

"So when I ask if this stuff in Mass Effect 3 matters, as clunky and poorly written as it is, I ask because I think the answer is clearly 'yes.' It matters a lot. As clumsy as Mass Effect 3 may be when it tells Cortez’ story — this is, after all, a videogame — BioWare presents a man talking about his husband and it’s no big deal. This is a step in someone else’s chain of events that inform each other, and it might eventually help someone understand that a man with a husband is part of the same human condition as a man with a wife. Keep it up, BioWare. The little things matter."

Find the rest of it here.

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