The video game Mass Effect 2 remains popular more than a decade after its original 2010 release. Now, lead game designer Jonathan Cooper reveals that the game originally had a same-sex romance, that is, until, outcry on Fox News pressured game studio BioWare to delete the subplot from the game.
Cooper took to Twitter to confirm that the character Jacob Taylor would have had a romance with his fellow crew member MaleShep (the male version of the player’s character). Taylor modeled and animated their love scenes together after Brokeback Mountain; that is, until, Fox News intervened.
“I animated both scenes for Male & Female,” Cooper revealed on Twitter. “We prevized Jacob as the male/male, matching shot-for-shot from Brokeback Mountain. Was told at the time ‘America isn’t ready for it.’ Perhaps it still isn’t.”
“We matched Brokeback so it wouldn’t be unacceptable – but different rules for film and games I guess,” he added. “Personally I still believe it was the wrong call to cut, as we protested at the time. People with a problem with can go f*ck themselves – they don’t deserve to play our games.”
We matched Brokeback so it wouldn't be unacceptable – but different rules for film and games I guess. Personally I still believe it was the wrong call to cut, as we protested at the time. People with a problem with can go fuck themselves – they don't deserve to play our games.
— Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) January 27, 2021
Cooper’s assertion comes not long after fellow designer Brian Kindregan told website The Gamer that another character in the game, the genderfluid Jack, would have also had a same-sex romance with the player, if he had selected the female version of the game’s lead, FemShep.
“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 told the site. “The short version is, a lot of us were asked pretty late to focus the relationships on a more traditional kind of vector.”