Mass Effect 3 Offers Same Sex Romance Options
Developer BioWare has a long history in making romance options an important part of its RPGs. Nothing helps bind parties together like the frisson of sexual tension or a budding relationship between the main character and one of their allies.
Indeed, sometimes these romance opportunities have such an impact that they form part of the player’s “plan for the next playthrough”. You know, where you complete an RPG and then before the end credits have rolled, you’re already planning out what you’ll try next time around: What moral alignment you’ll be, what key choices you’ll make differently and who you will try to sweep off their feet.
With BioWare’s more recently released series, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, the exploration of same-sex romance options were added into the mix, but only with girl-on-girl options for Mass Effect. However, it seems that the third instalment of the series will allow for gay male romancing as well.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, BioWare received more than a little flak with its offering of gay and lesbian antics in both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. I say unsurprisingly because we live in an age where any small-minded but large-mouthed individual can blurt endlessly online when something offends their sensibilities.
One prominent example of this type of behaviour was that of BioWare forums commenter Bastal, whose posting after the release of Dragon Age 2 quickly spread. The very inclusion of an option for becoming involved in a male gay romance was enough to rile up Bastal and gamers like him who bizarrely thought that BioWare was no longer “catering to straight male gamers”.
If you can navigate your way through a wall of ignorance, it’s really worth a read. Lead writer for DA2 David Gaider’s response is definitely worth reading too, but this time because it’s measured, rational, cutting and above all, classy.
While being attacked on one side for the inclusion of male homosexual romances, Gaider and the DA2 writing team were also attacked from another direction by those who thought Anders, the male bisexual in DA2, reinforced the stereotype that gay people are often sexually aggressive. A petition was even circulated to have him fired.
As Penny Arcade writer Jerry Holkins said at the time, David Gaider faced a pretty difficult challenge in writing gay romance options for a video game:
“But there is really no victory for him, is there? He made an imaginary world, but it either doesn’t conform with enough specificity to people’s baggage, or it conforms too well.”
So are BioWare setting themselves up for similar criticisms this time around with Mass Effect 3? Possibly, but the vast majority of Dragon Age gamers accepted these romance options for what they are: purely optional, nothing more, nothing less. With any luck, the Mass Effect gamers will most likely do the same and massed panties will not be put in a collective bunch.
As Gaider wrote at the time of the controversy: “The romances in the game are not for ‘the straight male gamer’. They’re for everyone.”
If you’re not interested in exploring a certain type of romance, or any romance at all, you simply pick the “thanks, but no thanks” dialogue option when a companion shows interest and then move right along with your attempts to save the galaxy.
Mass Effect 3 should drop from orbit to hit stores in early 2012.