If you accuse the Fox News on Mass Effect 2 of cutting a gay romance with Jack’s character, you win a weird prize.
From an insightful interview with Gamer:
I was trying to get the arc of [Jack’s] romance, which for most of its development – it was actually very late in the game – to become an all-male, all-female romance, Brian Kindregan, head writer of Jack’s character in Mass Effect 2, told Gamer. Before the development of this novel, she was essentially pansexual.
So, what happened? Fox News. That’s something!
Mass Effect was criticized quite heavily and quite unfairly in the United States by Fox News, which at the time perhaps more people around the world thought there was a connection between what was actually happening and what was being discussed on Fox News, Kindregan said. The development team for Mass Effect 2 was a pretty progressive and open-minded team, but I think at a pretty high level there was concern that if [the first] Mass Effect, where there was only one homosexual thing, Liara – who on paper technically had nothing to do with homosexuals because she was the monosexual type – I think there was concern that if it attracted attention, Mass Effect 2 would have to be a little careful.
For those who don’t know: Fox News has long been against many aspects of video games, including (supposedly) too much violence, sexuality, etc. For the first Mass Effect, they actually brought in people who had never played the game to discuss the allegedly traumatic sex scene between Commander Sheppard and alien fanatic Ashley.
Whether you like Fox News or not, and if you’re a fan of the evil Mass Effect 2 (or the series as a whole) you probably aren’t, it’s strange for a developer to give in to the demands of an outlet that doesn’t reach the same demographics as a video game company.
Bioware would clearly go on and create a bunch of sexy characters without any leanings in several series, including Dragon Age Inquisition, so at some point the developer stopped caring what Fox News or others had to say about the content they broadcast.
To keep all this in context, Jack’s main author has made it clear that she is not a lesbian. She should still be pansexual.
It’s weird for me, because I always understood that she was pansexual. So I don’t know if it’s just something I got out of the character or something she said that could have been changed. I was surprised that a female romance is impossible, because that’s what I understood. I think it’s time, you know? It was, what, 2008/2009? Since then, the industry has evolved exponentially, with BioWare leading the way. I don’t know if it was the budget or if someone said it too blatantly, because of course everyone said she was a lesbian. But I felt like she was still [pansexual] and not haunted. Of course, it was immediately modified by the community, so you can do it your way.
However, we now know some of the reasons why the dialogue for Jack on some issues ends without follow-up. Obviously, some members of the Mass Effect 2 fanbase will consider lesbians and pansexuals apart, but this seems relatively important to the lead author.