Iconic video game Mass Effect 2 cut pansexual character’s same-sex romance because of Fox News
A same-sex romance was cut from Mass Effect 2 because the game’s developers did not want to anger Fox News, it has been revealed.
The sci-fi action series features a number of different romance options, but many are locked based on the chosen gender of the player character –meaning some characters can only be romanced as a woman, and some can only be romanced as a man.
In an interview with The Gamer, former Mass Effect writer Brian Kindregan said that a character introduced in 2010’s Mass Effect 2, the female biotic Jack, was intended to be pansexual and available as a romance option for all genders – but was ultimately only allowed to date men because of a fear of conservative outlets.
Kindregan said: “I was trying to chart out the arc of [Jack’s] romance, which for much of the development… it was actually very late that it became a male-female only romance. She was essentially pansexual for most of the development of that romance.”
Mass Effect 2 impacted by Fox News lies.
He explained that the plan was ditched after conservatives targeted the first Mass Effect game over its romance choices.
An infamous Fox News segment on the first game had featured false claims that the first game “shows full digital nudity and sex”, while anti-LGBT+ activists targeted the game for allowing player characters of any gender to romance Liara T’Soni, a member of the singe-gendered alien Asari race.
Kindregan said: “Mass Effect had been pretty heavily and really unfairly criticised in the US by Fox News.At the time, more people in the world thought that there was a connection between reality and what gets discussed on Fox News.
“The development team of Mass Effect 2 was a pretty progressive, open-minded team, but I think there was a concern at pretty high levels that if Mass Effect, which only had one gay relationship, Liara – which on paper was technically not a gay relationship because she was from a mono-gendered species – I think there was a concern that if that had drawn fire, that Mass Effect 2 had to be a little bit careful.
“It wasn’t like some anti-gay person high up on the Mass Effect 2 team saying, ‘we’re not going to have that’. The short version is, a lot of us were asked pretty late to focus the relationships on a more traditional kind of vector.”
Mass Effect 2 still had plenty of hints that character Jack was pansexual.
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He added: “I’ve definitely heard a lot from people who were surprised that Jack turned out to not be open to that. I understand why. I would say that there were a lot of seeds planted in her conversations that certainly implied that she was pansexual.
“In the eleventh hour revision of cleaning that up, she’d already been partially recorded with voiceover. Not all of that could be changed.”
The game did eventually feature some minor LGBT+ relationship options, with more included in later instalments of the series.
Kotaku notes that the game’s developer BioWare previously maintained that it had not made any changes to the series as a result of the Fox News drubbing, which Kindregan’s account appears to drive a coach and horses through.
The writer added: “I’ve worked with lesbian developers who have come up to me and said like, ‘Why is Jack not into me?’ And I have to say ‘I’m so sorry, it’s partially my fault’… maybe someday Jack will be portrayed as pan.”
As luck would have it, a remaster of the Mass Effect trilogy is set to come out later this year, though there’s no indication yet that BioWare intend to redress the issue.