If you play videogames, then you’re probably aware of the big controversy over Bioware’s Mass Effect 3, and how they screwed their fans over by tacking on a really unsatisfying ending to a beloved trilogy. The “choices” in the game also didn’t really make much of a difference, for a game where your choices are supposed to really determine the fate of a galaxy. Oh, and forcing you to play the multiplayer component in order to get a “good” ending sucked too.
All of these were probably due to their parent company EA pulling the usual corporate bullshit to maximize profit at the expense of quality gaming, like reducing creative budgets, enforcing deadlines, etc.
But for me, EA did do something right with Mass Effect 3. Something really really right.
You see, I was playing the game and all of a sudden this soldier tells my character that he’s sad because his husband died in an alien attack. His husband. I was like “wow, there’s a gay character in this game. Sweet!” Furthermore, Cortez (the gay character) wasn’t some over-the-top queen with flamboyant dressing and mannerisms either; he was just a regular soldier who happened to be gay, and had a decent backstory to him for depth. GLAAD would be really glad about that for sure.
I read up that not only was Cortez a gay character, but if you could also pursue a romantic relationship with him if you wanted to. I personally didn’t, because I was too busy trying to bump uglies with aliens instead. I mean, since it’s a sci-fi game, why settle for an interracial or homosexual relationship when you can shoot for an inter-special encounter?
For the ladies, there was also a lesbian character named Samantha Traynor to serve as a potential love interest. But a lesbian relationship was already possible back in Mass Effect 1 (albeit with a female blue alien), so I guess that’s not as big a deal.
Anyway, I was ecstatic that EA decided to let Bioware include gay relationships in this game, because gaming already has a crapload of heterosexual couples and as a role-playing game, Mass Effect should really give you that choice. I’m not gay and I probably wouldn’t have pursued such a relationship in the game myself, but my own preferences shouldn’t prevent someone else from doing so, right?
Sadly, not everyone shares my opinion on the matter, and thousands of people have sent EA a whole bunch of angry letters, denouncing the gay content in the game. They threatened to boycott EA’s games if the same-sex relationships weren’t removed, and even used phrases like “Remember Sodom” to drive their point across. They complained that their anti-gay posts were being deleted from the EA forums.
Which leads to the good part – Instead of buckling under pressure, EA stood its ground and in so many words, told the anti-gay community to go screw themselves.
“We do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don’t tolerate hate speech on our forums.” – Jeff Brown, EA’s VP of Corporate Communications.
Obviously, groups like GLAAD and Human Rights Campaign are supporting EA’s stance and applauding their decisions to include LGBT content in their games. I might disagree with many of EA’s business decisions (like rebooting a beloved strategy franchise as a first-person shooter), but I can totally throw my support into this one.
Apparently, it’s also a trend for anti-LGBT campaigns to be met with and shut down by greater numbers of support against their cause. It happened when Starbucks announced their support for marriage equality, and it happened again when One Million Moms (the same group that tried to ban Archie for including homosexual characters in Riverdale) tried to get Ellen Degeneres fired as the spokesperson for JC Penny.
That kind of news really gives me hope for the world!
“Trying to rally Americans around messages rooted in hate is a losing proposition.” – Matt Kane, Associate Director of Entertainment Media at GLAAD
So there, hurray for EA!