Having recently been elevated to the high position of king of the pansexual realms (that is what my duchy is called in Crusader Kings III), I felt compelled to get involved in the latest queer scandal in the game.
The lead author of Mass Effect 2 recently announced that the game was supposed to have a pansexual character, but fearing criticism from Fox News, that idea was discarded and the character was only referred to straight interactions.
I enjoy this particular debacle because normally only the straight and the gays are in the spotlight, but today we’re talking about pansexuals.
A quick explanation: I started with pots, baking tins, and muffin tins. Ultimately, however, it was pans that did that for me.
The above sentence is a stupid lie, but I wanted something silly and aloof in the first 100 words of this article because we are always accused of being angry, irritable, or slightly offended when a strange person speaks out against something that is happening People enjoy.
I am calm, fabulous, and almost impossible to offend.
A pansexual, put simply, is someone who can be attracted to people of all gender identities. Some of us think that pansexual and bisexual are interchangeable. Some of us feel how pansexual is more inclusive – ie some people superior bisexual means “may be attracted to members with more than one gender identity, but maybe not all.” The distinctions are personal because there is no governing body for queer people.
Gaming News Outlet The Gamer today published an interview with Brian Kindregan, lead author of Mass Effect 2. In the article, Kindregan reveals some company information that, to my knowledge, has not yet been published publicly. This means that the character “Jack,” one of the romance options for the player character in ME2, was written as a “pansexual” character, but at the last minute the developers allegedly removed all non-heterosexual interactions for fear Fox News would be mean to it.
According to the article, Kindregan says:
Mass Effect had been criticized quite heavily and really unfairly by Fox News in the US, which at the time … maybe more people in the world thought that there was a connection between reality and what is being discussed on Fox News.
The Mass Effect 2 development team was a pretty progressive, open-minded team, but I think there were pretty high-level concerns when [the first] Mass Effect, who only had one gay relationship, Liara – who technically wasn’t a gay relationship on paper because they came from a single-sex species – I think there were concerns that if the fire had started, Mass Effect 2 would have had to do be a little careful.
Mass Effect is one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time. It set the standard for action / RPG storytelling and, along with Dragon Age, eventually became an icon for its “romance” options in the game.
Millions of words have been written in the strange love stories of these franchises. But for posterity, here is my take on this particular aspect of the games: Meh.
Don’t get me wrong, I love every game in the Mass Effect franchise. I’ll be in the first place to play the remasters when they drop this year. But not for the romance and sex options.
People seem to remember these games differently than they really were. Mass Effect 1 only had one pseudo-queer romance line with a monosexual alien, and 2 had no queer romance options until the Shadow Broker DLC came out. And none of the following games in the franchise ever included player options for anything other than straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
I suppose you can choose to be asexual by avoiding sexual interactions altogether, but that suggests that people who feel like they are saving the galaxy are more important than slamming on a spaceship, asexual must be or that asexuals are abnormal.
Still, it should be mentioned that in the old days of (Checks Notes…) 2010 when ME2 was released, the world was a different place. The Mass Effect franchise ultimately helped bring an odd romance to AAA games, and that’s a good thing.
Here’s the problem: it’s 11 years later and not much has changed. In 2010, Bioware decided that pansexual representation was less important than Fox News’ clowns. I firmly believe the developers wanted to do better, but in the end, the people who make the game are rarely the ones in charge.
Today, almost every AAA game developer has an official statement that they publish when they release a product that claims to be a “diverse and multicultural” team. But if the “diverse and multicultural” team isn’t responsible, what difference does it make?
When a lead writer is told that they couldn’t create the character they want because those in power at Bioware were afraid of the Fox News bigots, it clearly shows that those companies didn’t listen to minorities back then.
And as we’ve seen with the controversy over Borderlands 3’s terrible treatment of the little and disabled and Cyberpunk2077’s lack of understanding that sexual and gender identity is more than what’s in your pants and how high your voice is, not much has changed.
Sometimes these issues can manifest themselves even when publishers and developers are really trying to do the right thing.
For example, when I loaded the “Ruler Designer” from Crusader Kings III to create my own character, I was happy and sad at the same time. It was great to see that there were options for sexual identity that included more than just straight and gay – you can be bisexual or asexual! But on a deeply personal level, I was quite amazed that there weren’t any pansexuals.
Unfortunately, as someone who identifies Pan, I am fully aware that my sexuality is usually an afterthought associated solely with trans and non-binary identities. In gaming (and in life in general) it means that I normally can’t expect representation unless those communities are also represented.
The representation for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals may be slowly approaching something that better reflects their reality in the general population, and that’s great, but some of us are still left out by the people who decide whose existence is worth it. And every year it gets harder to understand why.
Not only have pansexuals been around since the dawn of mankind, but it’s not that the general public only hears from us. Sigmund Freud coined the term “pansexual” at the beginning of the 20th century.
For some reason, however, it is still too much of a “risk” for most game makers to involve us.
We don’t want you to involve us in every game, but we do want to be involved wherever options related to human sexuality matter to a player’s immersion, story and sense of character. None of us will care if you don’t include us in Call of Duty or NBA2K21 as sexuality is irrelevant to the experience in these games.
What we want to see is fair representation. We’re not just the quirky pals, insane horny bad guys, or sexually provocative alien / robot / monster madmen.
At the very least, game makers need to stop capitulating to bigots. These problems are pretty easy to solve: hire queer counselors and listen to them. If you are working on a project that involves minorities, you should have a qualified representative of that community among your decision makers.
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