If you regularly read this column, you know about our long-standing obsession with the Mass Effect series. It combines several things that we love: a rich, interesting sci-fi universe, great, character-based role-playing game mechanics, alien blasting, and the ability to play as a totally badass lesbian. It’s one of a tiny number of video games that allow the player to identify as a totally badass lesbian, so even without the other good stuff, it would be high up on our list.
We’re certainly not the only ones who are head over heels for the series, and this week, the third (and final – at least for this trilogy) installment landed. It is getting awesome reviews and nobody is surprised.
So, it’s probably a great game. But we wanted to talk a bit about why it’s also an important game, especially for LGBT players.
This is the first title in the series where full same-sex romance options are available. In the first and second game in the series, female heroes (Commander Shepard, the protagonist, can be male or female) could have a romantic relationship with a female character, but the same options did not exist for male characters. Further, the character you could have a relationship with – Liara – was considered “mono-gendered,” so she wasn’t precisely female, although she was generally presented as such.
In fully embracing genuine same-sex romance options, Bioware has made a statement. It’s not a big huge deal – at least, to anyone who isn’t a queer fan of the series – but it’s a great sign for greater LGBT acceptance in the AAA game space. This is one of the very first games of this scope (we’re talking ultra-mainstream, big sales, the whole shebang here) to go gay all the way. Everything related to sex and romance in these games is completely optional, so the haters don’t have a leg to stand on.
Acceptance. It’s a beautiful thing – especially when it comes right alongside the ability to kick ass in space and save the world.