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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  1. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Jim Sterling does not write for GamePolitics.  His Jimquisition show is produced by The Escapist.

    I passed the Forbes article along to GP.


    Andrew Eisen

  2. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic 1 and Jade Empire shows Bioware can write a serious gay romance story. However Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 2 actually give you Renegade or Rivalry points for refusing a gay relationship. In Dragon Age 2 it's a little worse with every male character sexually harassing you which as gay protests during the release of Dragon Age 2 were saying Bioware made all homosexuals look like creepy sex offenders who cannot control their urges which play to the most hideous of gay stereotypes.

    You have the straight left however and blogs supporting forced gay encounters even to the point where you get sexually harassed because it pushes people to interact or have a gay relationship in the game.


    AE: I've cut out the last part.  Stop lying about GamePolitics involvement in whatever the hell it is you're talking about.

    @AE So your saying Gamepolitics does not allow Jim to have his own 'Jimquisition' column here?

    This is the same guy who went after and made an article elsewhere going after a Bioware customer who dared speak back to an Bioware Employee and after another Bioware Employee insulted that customer Jim went out and posted the details linking people where they can find said customer.

    After that people dug up pictures of this persons children and threats to assault and molest them occured. Yet Gamepolitics has not let him go, why? I bet it would be big news if Jack Thompson wrote for an gaming site and went after people but yet you guys are silent on the Jimquisition.




    Forbes just wrote an interesting article on Bioware's horrible PR situation please follow up.

  3. 0
    GrimCW says:

    Even if you read the books theres little sign of intolerance towards homosexuals within the ME universe.

    but to the comments about the Asari.. tbh i think the issue (as i read it in the game) was that the girl was with an alien, not the fact the asari (a technically gender neutral race) was "female"

    More of a Xenophobic thing, that honestly is thrown around a bit. Cerberus is a fine example of that whole point. The entire organization is built around pushing humanity to the top, above ALL other races, under the belief that that is where "humanity belongs".

    Cerberus aren't the only human xenophobes in the game, even alliance personel have expressed such thoughts after all, as well as some Civi's. So i really think thats where that was going..


  4. 0
    Haunted Quiche says:

    But… the guy said he approved of Shepard not batting an eye. So he was satisfied. So there is no problem.


    Why, what did you think you read?

  5. 0
    Hevach says:

    And you gotta consider the stuff this guy's seen by this point. The whole human gender thing is probably pretty quaint by the time you're familiar with psychic lesbians, the exact number and dollar value of testicles on your average Krogan, or Turian "reach and flexibility."

    I mean, that Krogan bit only prompted a raised eyebrow and a, "Wait, so…" "Yep, six," and that was two games ago. By this point the guy's got to be so jaded when it comes to sex that anything involving less than five genders and a goat just sounds like Tuesday to him.

  6. 0
    tacc says:

    “Shepherd doesn’t bat an eye”
    So a “oh my god you’re gay!” would have been better?

    Seriously… what the hell do these people want?
    Treating them differently is wrong and treating them like anyone else it’s not right either?

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