BioWare, in their further attempts to bring game stories into the sexual revolution a few years late, will allow male Shepards to be homosexuals in Mass Effect 3, an option that was missing in both Mass Effect 1 and 2. I mean, sure, if you’re a female Shepard, you’ve probably already had sex with two other women in the course of your journey in the Mass Effect universe, but hey, baby steps I suppose.
Anyways, designers seem adamant about whether or not this is an overtly political or social statement and choose to put it in terms of gameplay possibilities. BioWare Co-founder Ray Muzyka says on the issue that “[BioWare is] neutral. It’s the player’s choice. It’s a role-playing game.” Furthermore, he mentions that he is “surprised” that this is such a big deal. I tend to agree.
Hypocrisy of writing a news story (and therefore calling attention to its importance and general “big deal-ness”) aside, I’d say it is a rather big deal in the fact that it shows us just how immature of a medium videogames are in terms of sexuality. Mass Effect is no stranger to annoying “controversy”, what with the Sexbox non-sense a couple years ago, but this really is kind of a big event in the fact that this will be the first big, triple-AAA, blockbuster game that I can really think of that will allow your male character to be a homosexual or be in a homosexual relationship.
Yeah, Dragon Age allowed your male character to be a homosexual, many games have featured gay men as characters (Grand Theft Auto’s rather annoyingly flamboyant examples come to mind), and so on, but Mass Effect 3 is bigger and more intimate than these, and so in that way, this really is a first. Yeah, it kind of calls into question why no one makes this kind of fuss about the countless lesbian relationships in videogames, but I guess that can of worms can be opened another day.
All that aside, Mass Effect 3 comes out on March 6th, 2012 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Enjoy the game however you like, BioWare wouldn’t have it any other way.