Mass Effect Andromeda's poor handling of LGBT

#1
Yes, another Andromeda thread, but I feel it's about issues worth discussing, since BioWare usually tries to tackle LGBT issues to some degree in their games. However, there might possibly be multiple problematic showings about how the LGBT are handled in their newest Mass Effect game.

Obviously the game is releasing only just now, so all of the information in the OP might be different in the actual proper game, although this seems unlikely.

Note: Very Light Andromeda spoilers (one achievement with no story spoilers) will follow.

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So, Mass Effect Andromeda has a trophy/achievement called ”The Matchmaker - Complete Romances with three different characters across all playthroughs". If you don't do these trophy/achievement, you basically won't be able to 100% of the game.

The crux of the problem with this achievement is that it seems the game has a very varied number of romance options for characters with different orientations. Gaffer Harlequin notes on the issue:

So according to the official guide and reviewers, some of the datamining was incorrect. Gay Scott only gets two romance options as opposed to straight Scott's five, gay Sara's four and straight Sara's three, neither of which are squadmates and neither of which have unique faces (just character creator ones). This also means that people playing as gay Scott won't be able to get the romance trophy/achievement without turning him bi. Good job, BW, good job...

The problem isn't just the achievement, it's the picture you get when you put all of those things together. I mean, of course, straight guys will get more options, I was never expecting them not to, but there are so many things that just scream half-arsed afterthought and "gays are second-class citizens" here. We've got less than half the number of options that straight guys have, we don't have any squadmate option (who get significantly more exposition, dialogue, etc. than non-suadmates), we don't have any option with a unique face, all of the gay male sex scenes are apparently fade-to-black whereas quite a few of the others are fully animated and include nudity and they put an achievement in the game that everyone but gay males can get without switching to a different gender or orientation (which in and of itself wouldn't be a problem but the fact that only gay men are forced to do it makes it one).
I've already explained that it's not about the achievement specifically, it's about a bunch of little things which wouldn't be much of a problem on their own but paint the picture of all the gay male content being a half-arsed afterthought when put together.
This information has not been verified, so I'm not treating it as an absolute fact. I haven't played Andromeda myself, either. But if it is true, this is quite a weird oversight from BioWare's part, because it basically means that if a player wants to roleplay exclusively gay male protagonist (or is a gay male themselves, and wants their character to reflect that), it will be impossible to 100% the game without also romancing a female character at some point, turning their character to bi in the process.

Noting that due to the nature of the Asari in this game, this could be potentially circled around by romancing an Asari.

It's also worrisome that the romance options for the Gay Male Ryder are not even squadmates, and more minor characters instead.

The problem isn't solely about the Achievement either, it's that the gay representation in general seems to be quite problematic (fade-to-black sex scenes, etc.)

So why is it problematic?

Well, imagine it the other way around. The players who would want to play as solely straight male Ryder wouldn't be able to Platinum Andromeda without a play-through where they have to romance another man. There would most likely be lot of outrage about forcing players to choose a gay male option if they want to platinum the game.

It makes gay male Ryder players feel like second-class citizens, if this information is true. And it's such a weird oversight from BioWare's part.

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Sadly, this doesn't seem to be the only problem the game has with LGBT representation. The game has a transgender character introduced, but is then handled rather poorly:


The character, when asked why they went to Andromeda, quickly seems to deadname themselves. Deadnaming in general is usually seen as a form of transphobia:

The Character can be seen in the Giant Bomb Quick Look, for instance.
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The game is only releasing right now, so we don't know for sure what extenct BioWare has went for LGBT representation. But the signs seen so far seem to be rather worrysome, especially after Dragon Age games and even Mass Effect 3, that had a gay squadmate option.

//Edit: Added more post quotes from Harlequin for context.
 
#5
The trophy issue seems a tiny bit overblown (the meme suggests omitting gay men was intentional, when instead it appears to be a side effect of the larger script and romantic options).

The trans character just feels like writers who are a mile out of their depth, really not bothering to get the opinion of actual members of that community.
 
#8
The trophy issue seems a tiny bit overblown (the meme suggests omitting gay men was intentional, when instead it appears to be a side effect of the larger script and romantic options).
Do you think BioWare would have done the same thing by accident for straight male Ryders? Seems unlikely.
 
#9
The trophy issue seems a tiny bit overblown (the meme suggests omitting gay men was intentional, when instead it appears to be a side effect of the larger script and romantic options).

The trans character just feels like writers who are a mile out of their depth, really not bothering to get the opinion of actual members of that community.
So all in all, a poor handling of LGBT.
 
#11
So according to the official guide and reviewers, some of the datamining was incorrect. Gay Scott only gets two romance options as opposed to straight Scott's five, gay Sara's four and straight Sara's three, neither of which are squadmates and neither of which have unique faces (just character creator ones). This also means that people playing as gay Scott won't be able to get the romance trophy/achievement without turning him bi. Good job, BW, good job...
You HAVE to be fucking kidding me. Good Job everyone! I don't give a shit about achievements anymore, but the fact that they managed to overlook this in designing them tells me how much they actually care about me, as a gay male.

Like, not having any gay male romances (like the previous games) is a lot better than this.
 
#12
This information has not been verified, so I’m not treating it as an absolute fact. I haven’t played Andromeda myself, either.
So why not hold off until it is 100% verified? Maybe non squadmate romances count, things like Kelly Chambers romance in the past you didn't know about right away etc.

I would say BioWare does more for LGBT representation than any other AAA game dev out there. Obviously it may not be enough, but I don't know, compare where we were with ME1 to now.
 
#13
The good thing is that people in the know say that Bioware writers listen a lot and are super open to criticism and feedback

They're in this weird position of being attached for being SJW by fragile gamer bigots and at the same time sometimes stumble and fall when they handle diversity. The good thing is that they listen in the latter case, and ignore and push back against the former.
 
#15
While I see why there's vague concern about this, I don't really see a big issue (and I'm a real life guy who is into guys).

1. You can get the trophy, you just have to pretend you're bi for a while. We've all done it.
2. It's a video game.

Not trying to discount the concerns of the OP, but... nothing's really stopping you from getting a trophy. And considering the advances in sexual politics in gaming over the last 10 years, I'm just happy I can finally get laid.

And that Scott is kinda hot.
 
#16
The trophy issue seems a tiny bit overblown (the meme suggests omitting gay men was intentional, when instead it appears to be a side effect of the larger script and romantic options).

The trans character just feels like writers who are a mile out of their depth, really not bothering to get the opinion of actual members of that community.
Yep, that's pretty bad. Trans people do not just deadname themselves, especially to people they don't even know. I mean it's good that they are trying I guess, but they clearly aren't trying very hard....
 
#17
The players who would want to play as solely straight male Ryder wouldn’t be able to Platinum Andromeda without a play-through where they have to romance another man.
Oh my god, can you imagine? The internet outrage would be nuclear.
 
#19
The writing for the trans character is really weird.

"I came here to start a new life as a new self, now let me tell you about my old self which was the whole point why I left in the first place"

It also that classic RPG trope where side characters just drop the most personal stuff on you in a short time because the writer knows that you wont be interacting with that character too much.
 

RoboPlato

I'd be in the dick
#22
This is the criticism levied at the game that surprised me the most. The LBGTQ characters in Inquisition were well written and their identities were weaved into their backstories and treated with respect. The trans character is especially awkward. It reads like the straw man example of diversity inclusion that gator-types use in argument as opposed to the usual better examples.
 
#24
In the case of Hainly mentioning her birth name, isn't that... idk, just what a video game has to do to communicate "This NPC is transgender"? If it was invisible or not easily telegraphed, people would be complaining there wasn't any trans representation.

The trophy thing is unfortunate. I was discussing this with my S.O. -- BioWare is in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario with character sexualities. Having them be diverse but not perfectly balanced feels more authentic than "3 gay males, 3 straight males, 3 straight females, 3 gay females," which would feel very rote and predictable across games. This is the cast they wanted to make, but it unfortunately means an imbalance without equal options for every Ryder. Maybe just not having that trophy would've been the right way.
 
#25
Eh, more gay romance options is always welcome; but who the hell gives a damn about achievements anymore? And if you do want to 100% a game it's pretty common for games to force you to do stuff that wouldn't be part of your normal playstyle
 
#26
if the trophy issue is true, that's extremely poor game design, at the very least.

They have to fix that issue in particular, and do it fast.
QA was completely absent for this game, it seems.
 
#27
While I see why there's vague concern about this, I don't really see a big issue (and I'm a real life guy who is into guys).

1. You can get the trophy, you just have to pretend you're bi for a while. We've all done it.
2. It's a video game.

Not trying to discount the concerns of the OP, but... nothing's really stopping you from getting a trophy. And considering the advances in sexual politics in gaming over the last 10 years, I'm just happy I can finally get laid.

And that Scott is kinda hot.
"It's a video game" is a lazy cop out used to brush away valid criticism. These criticisms are valid, and should be discussed.
 
#28
The trans character deadnaming herself just seems like the writers prioritized wanting the player to know the character is trans rather than being subtle about it.

Comes off as checking a box just to check a box rather than doing the research. :/
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
#29
Allow me to suggest that the idea probably isn't to turn your gay character straight, but to experience the game playing separately as gay and straight characters on different playthroughs.

Consider the claim that "I can't 100% the game without playing as someone I don't want to" -- the same would be true if they had an achievement that required you to complete the game as both a male and a female character. Or if the game had separate achievements for romancing each companion but you didn't like a character. Or we could broaden it from sort of "descriptive representation" to playstyle--if the game required you to play as a Renegade or whatever the ME4 equivalent is and you didn't like to do so--or even to skill like requiring you to beat it on a frustratingly hard difficulty, or even further to gameplay preferences like achievements for playing different character builds, or playing the multiplayer... or the perennial complaint that people who boycott DLC hate when DLC has achievements. All of these being ways that a player might feel frustrated by achievements as a completion checker, forced to choose between 100%ing the game and playing true to the way they'd naturally play the game.

Of course this does not mean that players need to be happy with the gay romance options or representation in the game, it is totally plausible that they dropped the ball. And I obviously support representation of all kinds in gaming and especially in role-playing games where connections to the characters are so important. So the fact that you're saying the two male gay romance options are generic NPCs is a bummer, and definitely worth a conversation.

I simply mean anchoring the argument around a completion achievement seems strange to me. I don't think in principle, an achievement that requires you to roleplay in a way that you did not intend to roleplay is a dealbreaker.
 
#30
You HAVE to be fucking kidding me. Good Job everyone! I don't give a shit about achievements anymore, but the fact that they managed to overlook this in designing them tells me how much they actually care about me, as a gay male.

Like, not having any gay male romances (like the previous games) is a lot better than this.
WAT? No. Some options is always better than none at all.

Do I wish it's as good as Kaiden in ME3? Yes. I'm not fond of how uninspired the gay male companions are in this one. But it's always better than nothing at all.

As for having 1 (or 2) out of 3 of my play throughs playing as straight character, I don't mind at all. I mean, it's not like I'm not already used to it. It is RPG, after all. The problem is, even the straight female and male character love interest are pretty uninspired in this one. I miss Miranda from ME2 or Wrex or hell, even Tali.
 
#32
I don't see how this is deadnaming, it's just telling you a context to a character.
It's not how an actual trans person would introduce themselves to a stranger. They could've easily had another character fill you in on their past, which would make a lot more sense.
Edit: doing it that way could be problematic also, as that is basically outing them, but they could've had a small quest where the character faces discrimination or something, basically there are more creative ways to handle the character.
 
#33
Eh, more gay romance options is always welcome; but who the hell gives a damn about achievements anymore? And if you do want to 100% a game it's pretty common for games to force you to do stuff that wouldn't be part of your normal playstyle
I guess that's true. As a gay Scott, maybe it's annoying that I'd have to romance a woman when I don't really want to, but I guess it's even more annoying having to take a garden gnome all the way to the end of a game.
 
#36
Allow me to suggest that the idea probably isn't to turn your gay character straight, but to experience the game playing separately as gay and straight characters on different playthroughs.
I would agree on that it's a fine viewpoint, but the problem is that the straight male Ryder, straight female Ryder and gay female Ryder characters are not forced through the same thing. They can potentially get the trophy/achievement only romancing characters based on the same sexual orientation.
 
#37
It's not how an actual trans person would introduce themselves to a stranger. They could've easily had another character fill you in on their past, which would make a lot more sense.
Speaking as a trans woman myself, there's really no reason why any character in the story should be revealing the other character's birth name. It doesn't happen in real life for a reason; Transgender folks generally want to leave that stuff in the past.

Just, all around really silly writing.
 
#39
Speaking as a trans woman myself, there's really no reason why any character in the story should be revealing the other character's birth name. It doesn't happen in real life for a reason; Transgender folks generally want to leave that stuff in the past.

Just, all around really silly writing.
Yeah I edited my post above to acknowledge that someone else doing it would be rude and transphobic. There are alternatives though, which don't involve deadnaming.
 
#42
So why is it problematic?

Well, imagine it the other way around. The players who would want to play as solely straight male Ryder wouldn’t be able to Platinum Andromeda without a play-through where they have to romance another man. There would most likely be lot of outrage about forcing players to choose a gay male option if they want to platinum the game.
Sounds like the easy fix would be drop the requirement to 1 romantic option (because I don't want to play through three times if that's the case to hit that requirement). At least that would solve the achievement part of this.
 
#44
The way they introduce the trans character is shockingly bad. Krem was written much better in Inquisition.

It’s also worrisome that the romance options for the Gay Male Ryder are not even squadmates, and more minor characters instead.
I thought Jaal was bi?
 
#45
To give more info around the game's narrative mechanic and the case of the transgender character, I've got past this point in the game :
you get to ask every single NPC (there are a lot) who can have a conversation with you the same question "What brought to Andromeda?", but they pretty much all answer by talking about what they left in the Milky Way, or why they left it in the first place.

I'm pretty sure she gets more than 3 lines to explain her motivation but I could be wrong
 
#47
Allow me to suggest that the idea probably isn't to turn your gay character straight, but to experience the game playing separately as gay and straight characters on different playthroughs.

Consider the claim that "I can't 100% the game without playing as someone I don't want to" -- the same would be true if they had an achievement that required you to complete the game as both a male and a female character. Or if the game had separate achievements for romancing each companion but you didn't like a character. Or we could broaden it from sort of "descriptive representation" to playstyle--if the game required you to play as a Renegade or whatever the ME4 equivalent is and you didn't like to do so--or even to skill like requiring you to beat it on a frustratingly hard difficulty, or even further to gameplay preferences like achievements for playing different character builds, or playing the multiplayer... or the perennial complaint that people who boycott DLC hate when DLC has achievements. All of these being ways that a player might feel frustrated by achievements as a completion checker, forced to choose between 100%ing the game and playing true to the way they'd naturally play the game.

Of course this does not mean that players need to be happy with the gay romance options or representation in the game, it is totally plausible that they dropped the ball. And I obviously support representation of all kinds in gaming and especially in role-playing games where connections to the characters are so important. So the fact that you're saying the two male gay romance options are generic NPCs is a bummer, and definitely worth a conversation.

I simply mean anchoring the argument around a completion achievement seems strange to me. I don't think in principle, an achievement that requires you to roleplay in a way that you did not intend to roleplay is a dealbreaker.
Right, I agree.
However, because the other sexual orientations in game supposedly have enough paths to get the achievement except only for the gay male version, then in my opinion, it's a problem.

Again, this is only if the trophy issue is actually real.
 
#48
To give more info around the game's narrative mechanic and the case of the transgender character, I've got past this point in the game :
you get to ask every single NPC (there are a lot) who can have a conversation with you the same question "What brought to Andromeda?", but they pretty all answer by talking about what they left in the Milky Way, or why they left it in the first place.

I'm pretty sure she gets more than 3 lines to explain her motivation but I could be wrong
It's not about how many lines she gets, it's that she uses her dead name. Trans people wouldn't introduce themselves that way.
 
#49
I didn't get the Biotic achievements in ME1 because I didn't want to play as an Adept. I don't see how that is a big deal for the romance trophy, and the trans thing just seems like shitty exposition rather than being transphobic.

I think the 3 romances is a shitty achievement regardless of how you see the sexual orientation, though.
 
#50
The lack of a third gay love interest is kinda so-so to me, because they could probably make a DLC with a new gay/bi male love interest included to solve the problem.

That bit with the trans character is fucking egregious, not just because A) from what I can see, Ryder literally doesn't know or care that Hainley is trans, B) it makes the character being trans the focal point of the conversation and character, and C) it apparently does something trans people would never do, but because it is literally that stereotype of writers inserting characters who shove their race/sexuality/whatever in your face in order to look progressive.