Mass Effect: Andromeda gay romances have come under fire from fans who are unhappy with the state of romantic content in BioWare’s new RPG. Fans say that the romances between (male protagonist) Scott Ryder and other male characters in the game just isn’t up to scratch.
In this J Station X explainer, we break down exactly why fans are upset, why the controversy matters and what BioWare is doing to address the concerns. This post includes spoilers for the game’s romances.
What is the ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda Gay Romance Controversy’ and Why Are Fans Upset?
Fans of the Mass Effect games – specifically gay and bisexual male players – are unhappy with BioWare because they feel that the gay romances in the game are inadequate. Just two male NPCs can be romanced (Gil and Reyes) by the player character and neither of them are squadmates.
Unlike the straight or lesbian romances in the game, male player characters don’t get to spend time with their male love interests out in the field, thus leaving fans to feel as though these romances are less fleshed out. By some players’ counts, Gil and Reyes get just six and eight minutes of dialogue (respectively) with the male player character in comparison to the 14 minutes Scott Ryder gets with Peebee and over 24 minutes with Cora.
Also a huge point of concern is that the love scenes for the gay romances fade to black. While some of the male/female (m/f) romance scenes also fade to black, the fact that the male/male (m/m) love scenes only fade to black and do not get full love scenes is questionable to fans.
Moreover, of the two male love interests for Scott Ryder, just one of them ‘counts.’ Mass Effect: Andromeda has a trophy for romancing three characters and not only can male player characters not achieve that by pursuing gay romances only, thus forcing players to either romance a female character or play the game again and pursue additional straight or lesbian romances, players say that only the romance with Gil counts towards the trophy. The romance plot with Reyes, however, does not.
Why Does This All Matter? And Why Has This Happened?
— R (@amusinglymuse) March 24, 2017
While the hype surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda and its romances is enormous, the concerns about BioWare’s attitude to gay romances have actually been growing for some time. According to the fan-made chart above, it wasn’t until Mass Effect 3 that BioWare introduced male love interests for the male player character in the Mass Effect trilogy, Commander Shepard.
Fans say that unlike (separate wing of BioWare) the Dragon Age team, which they say does take gay and bisexual male players into account, the Mass Effect team has a long history of ignoring gay and bisexual male players and that the continued streak with Andromeda is proof of this. Some have accused the team behind the game of being ‘grossed’ out by gay romances and that this is why the developer is so reluctant to include more them with full love scenes.
There have also been accusations that the reason why m/m romances get less attention in comparison to the series’ m/f and f/f romances is because BioWare relies on the ‘straight male gaze’ to sell its games.
By giving straight male gamers romance scenes that they will find ‘hot’ and appealing (straight and lesbian romance scenes, that is), the company can sell more copies of the game than if each sort of romance gets equal amounts of love interests and screentime. Also compounding the issue is that none of the game’s same gender relationships were featured in Mass Effect: Andromeda trailers, though different gender pairings were.
Although the real reason why BioWare has ‘neglected’ (fans’ words) gay romances is unclear and may just have been a huge oversight on its part, the fact of the matter is that gay and bisexual male fans do feel as though the content that serves them is an afterthought. Many say that BioWare is treating them as though they are less important, which is especially disappointing as the developer is only one of few that includes gay characters in its games at all.
What is BioWare Doing to Address the Controversy?
@vlog50 Absolutely. This is definitely not going in the trash–we take the concerns very, very seriously.
— Ian S. Frazier (@tibermoon) March 21, 2017
The Mass Effect: Andromeda team, has briefly addressed the gay romance concerns on social media. On March 21, lead designer Ian Frazier assured fans that the concerns are being taken “very, very seriously” and BioWare won’t just put them in the “trash.” Frazier also confirmed that the developer has had at least one meeting about the matter.
Then, on March 23, creative director Mac Walters confirmed that the team had heard about #MakeJaalBi, a campaign to make (squadmate and female protagonist romance option) Jaal Ama Darav bisexual, allowing him to be romanced by male player characters. Walters asked fans to “bare with us” as BioWare “look[s] for ways to improve everyone’s experience in MEA.”
— Mac Walters (@macwalterslives) March 23, 2017
While it’s positive to hear that BioWare is aware of the frustrations, these tweets from Mass Effect: Andromeda team don’t make it any clearer about what exactly it plans to do and when those solutions will appear. The developer may well make Jaal bisexual, per the social media campaign, but that’s not 100% certain at the moment.
Fans also fear that BioWare will just fix the issue with paid-for DLC, pointing to the time when it made Liara (a romance option for both the male and female player character in the original trilogy) romanceable in Mass Effect 2‘s Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC.
Given the amount of backlash already and the controversy surrounding the few Mass Effect: Andromeda gay romances as is, it seems unlikely that BioWare would be so unwise as to paywalling any additional gay content but only time will tell.
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