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Mass Effect 2 devs reportedly cut same-sex romance because of Fox News backlash

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 (Image credit: Electronic Arts)

What you need to know

  • BioWare's Mass Effect 2 released in 2010.
  • One of the squadmates, Jack, is available as a romance for male Shepard but not female Shepard.
  • According to one of the writers at BioWare, Jack was meant to be available as a romance option for female Shepard.
  • This was cut due to fears of backlash like from Fox News.

The Mass Effect games are notorious for their many romance options but one particular romance in 2010's Mass Effect 2 may have been cut for reasons other than development constraints. Tattooed biotic prodigy Jack is available for a male Shepard to romance but not female Shepard. Speaking with TheGamer, Brian Kindregan, writer at BioWare for portions of Mass Effect 2 including Jack and Samara, says that Jack wasn't available for female Shepard to romance for fear of backlash like from Fox News.

"Mass Effect had been pretty heavily and really unfairly criticized in the US by Fox News, which at the time... maybe more people in the world thought that there was a connection between reality and what gets discussed on Fox News," Kindregan said.

Fox News held an infamous "discussion" around the dangers of a game like Mass Effect portraying realistic sexual intimacy. As a result of this backlash, elements around the possible romance options were altered. Kindregan notes the team was trying to handle this with care, and that "it wasn't like some anti-gay person high up on the Mass Effect 2 team saying, 'we're not going to have that'."

Actress Courtenay Taylor who portrayed Jack said she was always of the belief that Jack was meant to be pansexual, saying "It's funny to me because my understanding was always that she was pansexual. So I don't know if that's just something I inferred from the character or something that she said that maybe got cut. I was surprised there wasn't a female romance possible because that was my understanding. I think it was the time, you know? That was, what - 2008/2009? The industry has changed exponentially since then, and BioWare was leading the charge on that."

Mass Effect 2 is included in the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition remastered collection, which is meant to release sometime in Spring 2021. Additionally, a new Mass Effect game is in development, with work being done by a "veteran team." Platforms have not been announced but considering how far out that game is, we can safely expect it to be available on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PS5.

Xbox Series X/S

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

60 Comments
  • So completely ridiculous, but so no suprising. I'm surprised they kept the option in Andromeda.
  • As opposed to the cancel culture that rules the gaming agenda on the left. How many games (not just a narrative piece of ) or lives have been ruined because of the left agenda making it so? SJW work overtime demanding changes to fit a narrative of their world and developers fall in line so obediently often ruining the original game's direction or narrative.
  • The whole point of the story went right over your head, didn't it? Not a surprise. "Lives have been ruined" by the left? Like the idiots that stormed the US capital on the 6th, right? Those were just good people whose lives are being ruined by 'the left'? Seems to me people like you have a misconception that being held accountable for your crap makes you a victim. It doesn't. Actions have consequences.
  • He has a point. Cancel culture has become toxic. You can bring up the capital thing all you want, but it doesn't change the facts. Cancel culture has ruined the lives of people who have done nothing wrong. And also, that was nothing compared to the riots earlier in 2020 that not one person was charged for but caused multiple millions in damages.
  • They're are multiple reasons why you can't directly compare the two BUT to go along with your comment... Are you really comparing property damage to: people getting shot along with the high potential for more harm (there were pipes bombs found and thankfully not actually used, people brought zip ties which implied some were considering actually either kidnapping or holding people hostage) and in general people trying to interfere with the democratic process when they were counting electoral votes. Like, what?
  • Why yes, I am comparing the two, because over two dozen people died in the BLM riots, there were bombs planted as well. They locked people in buildings and started them on fire. And took over parts of city not allowing any police or medical attention in there while more people died. Oh yeah, and not to mention that antifa people already admitted that they stormed the capital first. There's video online, if you can still find it.
  • what does this have to do with fucking mass effect lol.
  • Just replying to the original comments. He brought up the capital thing for some odd reason. It somehow got here.
  • So you responded with unfounded conspiracy theories. Got it.
  • What about any of that is a conspiracy theory? Did people die during the BLM protests? Yes. Was there hundred of millions of dollars worth of damages? Yes. Did they take over city blocks where more people died? Yes. And did people historically linked to antifa make videos saying they started the capital invasion? Yes. You can call facts conspiracies as much as you want, but it doesn't change anything.
  • Where are your facts? I've given you ample opportunity to back up your claims here and nothing. Just more "someone said something" BS. You'd think you'd have learned after these last few weeks ... but I guess you're going to be one of the die-hards that believes the lies to the bitter end. Best of luck to ya. You're going to need it.
  • BrianCO, my post here may be too late to be seen, but I just read this exchange on Monday and need to ask: do you believe any of the facts that Copiandor wrote are incorrect? I'm not referring to the opinions or conclusions, just the facts about events that occurred. Do you dispute any of them? This may all be off-topic, but as he points out, he's responding to others. It concerns me if you believe his facts are wrong. That's the classic case of adversarial views because of belief in different facts. Everything he listed is a provably correct fact, easily verified even on Google, which is hardly a friend to the right. Here's an article I found at the top of my first search, talking about 25 people killed in the riots during 2020 from the left-leaning, staunchly anti-Trump Guardian in the UK (i.e., the opposite of a right-wing US-myopic site): https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/31/americans-killed-protests-.... CNN showed firebombs going off at night. The Chief of Police in Portland, OR spoke publicly about needing to retake the police station after protesters took it over along with several other blocks of the city. These examples are easy to find and don't require constraining yourself to right-wing media, though it's admittedly easier to find there. Rioting and violence are wrong (unlike peaceful protests of any agenda that I think we all support, at least their right to do so), whether in the form of looting stores or invading the capital building. Both sides are guilty. I think the DC riots just got more action from Congress because the politicians finally felt the fear Americans in affected cities have been going through all year during the riots. When it's your house or place of work that's affected, it suddenly becomes personal.
  • Hi Colin. I can only assume that you didn't read up further into the thread and identify the facts in dispute around the events of the 6th. I'll go ahead and quote them and provide the links refuting them "not to mention that antifa people already admitted that they stormed the capital first. "
    https://www.newsweek.com/fbi-found-no-link-antifa-40-still-blame-group-p.... "that was nothing compared to the riots earlier in 2020 that not one person was charged"
    There are many references to tons of people being arrested, but I'll just go for Kenosha 277 charged: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/09/18/fact-check-near... Elsewhere that person attributed supporting the riots to Kamala Harris, which as I correctly asserted, did not back the riots but did support our constitutional right to protest: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/kamala-harris-protests/ It's a well used tactic to mix factual attributions with lies and half-truths to build trust and lend credence to the mistruths. Lies are lies and should be called out as such.
  • Sorry Jez, I shouldn't have responded and usually don't when it's off topic like that but my emotions got the best of me. I'll stop. I know debating on the internet rarely gets anywhere which is why is seldomly do it.
  • You were right to speak up.
  • Feel free to post a link to your 'evidence' that antifa was involved. I can't wait to see it.
  • BrianCO, there is video of them beating the crap out of Andy Ngo (yielding a brain hemorrhage). Don't trust my word. Search AntiFa and Andy Ngo for yourself. Watch the videos. Read the articles. His case is also far from unique. Some specific links, per your request: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/andy-ngo-portland-flees-death-th... https://reason.com/2021/01/11/powells-books-antifa-andy-ngo-store-censor... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M4mrUoJy0c
  • Thanks for the links. I can only assume it was in good faith and not a willful deflection from the original statement "Oh yeah, and not to mention that antifa people already admitted that they stormed the capital first. There's video online, if you can still find it." https://www.newsweek.com/fbi-found-no-link-antifa-40-still-blame-group-p....
  • It's just such a coward thing to do, blaming other people for your own actions.
  • What did I do? I am not a fan of what happened, but people made videos admitting what they had done, then they were removed from Twitter.
  • Feel free to list the people whose lives were ruined for "doing nothing wrong". I'll wait. I think what you mean is people are being held accountable for crap they used to be able to get away with but are now called out on. And protesting is not rioting. No one is defending the rioters.
  • Tons of people defend the rioters, including our vice president. Saying that it should not stop. (when it was going on)
  • People rightfully defended the right to protest. No one defended the rioters.
  • You're willfully blind.
  • Can an American go 5 minutes without thinking about politics?
  • Not in the current climate, unfortunately.
  • Imagine living in a country that voluntarily elected Donald Trump and then, after suffering under him for 4 years, almost re-elected him. It hasn't been possible to live in America without politics creeping into your daily life for the last 4 years.
  • This... all the way.
  • "After suffering under him for 4 year" TDS was self inflicted. Who was suffering exactly? Before the pandemic, most people's lives got better, minorities with better job opportunities and real wage growth. Of course, many people still suffering under Trump's as they did under Obama and will do under Biden's. But we would need to establish what 'suffering" means and who was actually affected by it. Metal state decline as a direct result of people getting dupe by manufactured outrage from CNN, random twitter and "journalists" is their own fault and I wouldn't qualify it as suffering.
  • No kidding, consequences for bad behavior suck, don't they?
  • Considering many kids play these games, why introduce intimate relationships at all. There was a time when a story could be told without it being romantic or sexual. A character's sexual preference does not need to be highlighted or shown to make a story interesting.
  • Do you feel the same about television, movies ... walking down the street? "Kids" see adults interact in all sorts of situations everyday, it's part of existing amongst other humans. Although I do agree that intimate relationships need not be part of a game, but if a developer chooses to, whatever.
  • Also the game is rated so as to not be played by kids. Perhaps don't let kids play it?
  • Exactly. I really can't stand the "but the kids" argument. Should Machine Games not kill Nazis by blasting their heads off because kids might see? Give me a break.
  • Non sequitur. Video games especially target/interest children, same as cartoons.
  • That's a cop out argument that fails to even somewhat say why art meant for an adults should be changed to fit all audiences. It also goes out the window considering there are adult only cartoons out there.
  • So, kids don't like video games? That's a cop out.
  • It is a Role Playing Game, why put characters into a specific box that YOU feel comfortable with or think people should be exposed to? A person should be able to play a character in a RPG as they see fit.
  • It's a roleplaying game, you CHOOSE how you want your character to be.
  • There is a mod on NexusMods that enables Femshep to romance Jack.
  • It's troubling to see this type of article on WindowsCentral. I would rather read about technology coming out of Microsoft, video games, PC hardware, etc. If I wanted to argue politics I would logon to Twitter.
  • You don't have to comment.
  • Neither do you.
  • This article isn't about politics, this is about a video game that is on the Xbox and Windows platform.
  • I do remember the Fox News over criticism on Mass Effect sexual content, and I think it was misplaced, especially when you consider this game was rated M. It was definitely an over reaction. With that said, I don't understand the trending obsession with over sexualizing everything, with all this made up sex preference terms and multiverse genders, and try to use government and mob tactics to submit people into adopting norms they disagree with, and using hollywood in amplifying this message, specially the new trends with kids. Instead, we should appeal to people understanding and respect of people's life and preferences. People will response better, but unfortunately, that is not enough.
  • "made up sex preference terms and multiverse genders". So because it's outside your realm of experience it must be made up? And then you go on to profess people kiss your ass with understanding and respect to try to get you to be soooo generous as to extend some understanding towards others? Do you even think about this **** before you post? No one wants you to accept them. They want you to GTFO of their lives and mind your own damned business. And if you can't, you better be able to deal with the blowback. Consequences suck.
  • ok, fascist (in re: "And if you can't, you better be able to deal with the blowback. Consequences suck") So if I think the whole pronouns BS is BS, and I let the thought known, I should "be able to deal with the blowback" and there are "consequences to it" WTF In a free society, you can't force people on what they "should" think according to your own reality. You see, when you are trying to force someone on how to act or think, you are getting into the person's life. Don't you see the irony of your own statement? The only reason to appeal to another person (which you misconstrued as kissing a$$), is because you want the other person to understand the maybe that's person own understanding is not the same as yours and either you want to have the person shift their views on their own, or at least respect the fact that there are difference of opinions. So we can move to a society that's more understanding or respectful of each other. But what you propose is that you will force your BS on me, so I GTFO out of your life while you don't GTFO of mine.
  • What people like you never seem to get is that you don't need to 'get it'. Your opinions about other peoples lives isn't worth the time it takes to express. That's where you consistently get into trouble, worrying about others instead of running your own life. You want to continue as in the past where people had to beg for the ruling class to grant them some legitimacy through appealing to their egos. Those days are over, and I'm sure it's quite a shock. You talk about wanting a society that's "respectful" of others but you really mean you want a society that plays by your rules. Sorry but that bus has left the station. I don't give one flat crap what you think but when you start trying to force your views about how others should be living their lives, it's my business. And many people in the USA seem to agree. So get used to it. And if you are so fragile that people living their lives by their own rules is a problem for you ... kindly remember it's YOUR problem. When you make it others problems by expressing yourself, you are fair game. Consequences.
  • hahaha. ok, I guess, whatever. Just a reminder, USA is not lost yet, half of the country doesn't agree with you, and the other half is not entirely on board. You are just a loud minority that is in fact taking a hold, but hopefully not for long, and freedom will survive and not succumb to your tyranny. Take it as you will, wish you the best.
  • Yea, we saw your 'freedom' on Jan 6th. Wish you the best as well.
  • You're a lying fascist: https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/01/caught-video-antifa-protester-j...
  • Yup, one crazy ass man associated with BLM was present, and has been charged. Want to talk about the 1000's of others and where they came from? You are going to tell me they were all antifa too? One person doesn't make much of a point, does it: https://www.newsweek.com/fbi-found-no-link-antifa-40-still-blame-group-p....
    I'm not going to reply further to emotionally challenged individuals who resort to name calling and personal attacks when they weren't even part of the conversation. You aren't worth any more of my time. Best of luck to you.
  • Now you're a victim? What a slimy deflection. If you don't want to have your lying pointed out, then stop lying. If you don't want to be noted as a fascist, then stop repeating the Democrats' fascist propaganda. You're demonizing people you don't even know, arguing from ignorance, and doing it proudly. The fact is that Trump was still speaking -- he urged his audience to "peacefully" make their voices heard -- when the initial crowd entered the Capitol. Many of them were invited in and committed no crime; where Babbitt was killed John Sullivan and his cohorts were smashing through windows, terrifying the officer who had barricaded those doors, and precipitating the fatal shooting of Babbitt; and they admit that there was "a large sum of anti trumpers" in the "front line of the battle." You can run if you'd like, but it won't change the fact that you're not telling the truth. Does that matter to you at all? https://thenationalpulse.com/news/chat-logs-rally-plot-trump/
  • You're expressing your opinions but attacking him for his. You're such a hypocrite.
  • You should take your own advice.
  • This seems a little silly to bring up Fox News. If that were the concern, I think it's misplaced (maybe they had some guest on who said something, but they often get people on opposite sides of an issue to debate or present different views). I don't believe Fox News' people have ever said or done anything remotely negative toward gay relationships or people. Several of the top anchors and commentators at Fox News are openly gay. It's a non-issue.
  • Here's the original problem that Fox News had with the Mass Effect series. This was a possible "gay" romance even though technically Liara doesn't actually have a sex as far as that race is concerned. This is from 2007: https://youtu.be/PKzF173GqTU It comes from this article: https://www.thegamer.com/mass-effect-2-jack-gay-pansexual-fox-news/
  • Having watched the footage, it was more to do with the sex in the game and not the sexual orientation of the character. They are certainly blowing the sex part out of proportion to scare their viewers. They also basically lied and said adults don't play games (then corrected that at the end). During that time the average age of gamers would have been in their 20's (if not 30's already).
  • I remember when this game came out. Fox News is getting a bad wrap. From what I remember, the game was about to be banned in Austrailia alltogether or get a rating of A from ESRB. BioWare made changes to keep the game on the market for countries threating to ban.
  • Here's the original problem that Fox News had with the Mass Effect series. This was a possible "gay" romance even though technically Liara doesn't actually have a sex as far as that race is concerned. This is from 2007: https://youtu.be/PKzF173GqTU It comes from this article: https://www.thegamer.com/mass-effect-2-jack-gay-pansexual-fox-news/