Queer romance options were removed from 2011's Mass Effect 2 to appease Fox News

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/22/queer-romance-options-were-removed-from-2011s-mass-effect-2-to-appease-fox-news.html


I’m a little skeptical.

I watched the “extraordinarily tactless” Fox News panel. One panelist objects to the game because the sex teaches young boys to treat women as objects. I think Anita Sarkeesian said the same thing. The other panelist says that the game is great and the concerns are overblown. After the panel, the commentators say parents should be aware of what their kids are up to and not just blindly trust corporations to age gate things.

The article doesn’t suggest there was ever any explicit decision to remove this relationship because of Fox News or any other mainstream media source. If it really was the case that they were afraid of the bad press, why did they leave in the suggestive dialogue and three other same sex relationships (according to the very last paragraphs of the article)?

Funny. In 1992 Star Trek came closer to addressing the issue.


Why the fuck would a video game company give a fuck what Fox thinks?

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The second thinnest veiled analogy of all time (the first is original series “Let That Be Your Battlefield”).

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That boils down to “Why the fuck would a media company give a fuck about what Walmart thinks?”

The answer to that is “The moral panic gets your game removed from shelves, and you lose sales.”


I get that, but having trouble seeing how Fox manages to influence what games gaming people decide to buy. I’m too naive, I expect (the first time I’ve said THAT for a while!)

It’s manufacturing the moral panic. Fox News viewers start demanding that Walmart gets this filth of their shelves, Walmart complies and gamers can’t buy what isn’t there.

Think of it being Mary Whitehouse rather than Fox News.


Because the only game reviews I listen to is Fox news!

Kinda surprised Walmart is a ‘go to’ outlet for gamers. Hey-ho.

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Walmart was the go to outlet for everything if you lived in a part of America where Walmart had killed off all the other shops. Amazon is taking over now, but we are not talking about today, we are talking about ten years ago.


But if this were the case, why would the game go from two heterosexual and one bisexual romance options to six heterosexual and three bisexual options? If the sequel had removed romance or only included heterosexual options, this might be true, but the game tripled down on it.

If the game devs had wanted to be more progressive it wouldn’t have been by including a fourth bisexual female-presenting character, it would have been by having just one gay or bisexual male character.

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You’d say the same about music lovers. Who buys music at wal-mart instead of record stores?

Well. Wal-Mart was the number 1 seller of CD’s in the 90’s and 2000’s. I can’t find any info about what % of all games back in 2008 - 2010 were sold at Wal-Mart, but I would wager it’s a big number.

Because of the shift to digital distribution, I would bet that number is far lower now. Ergo, games aren’t worried about appeasing Fox News. If anything Fox News outrage is better for business now - because gamers can instantly fulfill their curiosity and start downloading the game before the rage segment is over.

This article is reaching. Reaching oh so hard.

Right. That was then. I assumed this was now - I had not read the story closely enough to realise this was 10 years ago (I know nothing about video games!)
Presumably they are all ordering online today, hence my mystification.
(Note to self: RTFA!!) :wink:

and @WoolyBugger - got it, now!

Uh, what? There are multiple lesbian romance options available. You can get down as a female shepherd with Kelly Chambers, Samara, or Morinth.

Samara turns you down before anything happens and Morinth lies to you then kills you. I wouldn’t call them romances other than on technicalities.

Bisexual, not lesbian. None of them are woman only. There weren’t any same sex only relationships until Mass Effect 3.


Gamers buy what they buy and where they buy it, but there is a reason many marquee games (which include the Mass Effect series) are pushed to be released by November/December. It’s a holiday thing in which people with money (parents and grandparents) often buy things for people with less money (kids and teens).

Xmas gifts are a big part of a large market game’s sales, and not being available at Walmart (or wherever) will hurt that business. Also, grandpa knows little about games, and less in 2011. So he won’t be buying some game that Fox has told him promotes gay filth (or whatever).

It is easy to forget how quickly we have come and how far from a decade ago - in game distribution, in acceptance of homosexuality, in a lot of things.

That being said, there were plenty of same sex options in the story so I’m not fully convinced.

Self censorship has to be the worst form of censorship as it represents the fear that an ideology imposes on an individual or a collective.

I have a couple of examples that involve gigs where I work as a designer creating visual content for the backdrop screens for various live musical performances for a major Australian television broadcaster. They have big audiences from large events that Sony, Universal, Warner et al. use to showcase their musical acts/products.

I was shut down at a relatively low level in the corporate food chain from providing ‘queer content’ for Kylie Minogue, an icon in the LGBTQI community, and for the band Australian Crawl with their song “Errol” about Errol Flynn who was a famously promiscuous bi-sexual Australian actor.

With Kylie’s song I just wanted to have a montage of stills on the outro of her song of images coming out of the US of older gay and lesbian people being able to get married for the first time. A simple and powerful moment that was prescient given that her fan base and Australia was voting on legalizing same sex marriage. This was nixed at the pitch stage by people in music and television who would be perfectly comfortable with the images… the entertainment industry!?

Self censorship saw that a queer idea would never make it any further than a pitch. The fear in the room of upsetting the company was palpable. The idea was unanimously cut down extremely quick. A queer idea would never live outside that room, never be seen by Kylie, never be seen by her fan base.

The song Errol was written by the guitarist of Australian Crawl, a gay man who struggled with his sexuality in a ‘pub rock’ band, a very masculine environment, who never really came out and took his own life. The show for this performance was a televised Australian football event, a very masculine environment. My idea was to emphasize the homo eroticism of the many images of Errol not wearing a shirt, all sexy and stuff but much less sexual than any modern straight advertising imagery. The idea got cut down by the crew on the ground, building the show. Sadly they were right, it would never go up the ladder… see the light of day.

Self censorship is absolutely systemic.

My/our shame will be when we give up bothering to even think of an idea with an outsider message.


Since the Call of Duty franchise has turned young male right wingers into a prime demographic for gaming companies?