BioWare sure isn’t on a roll lately when it comes to their developers sharing their opinions publicly. A conversation on Twitter went down Wednesday in which a producer at BioWare claimed that woman Shepard (from the Mass Effect series) and woman Hawke (from Dragon Age 2) are not iconic characters. Here’s what happened:
“All promo materials I see for Dragon Age 2 keep referring to Hawke as a guy. Female Hawke that uninteresting?”
“Not in the least. Just Man Hawke is iconic like Man Shep is for Mass Effect. Fem Shep is the fan favorite though but not mkting.”
gTez is the Twitter handle of Jesse Houston, Producer at Bioware for the last 3 years who has worked on Mass Effect 2 and 3. His “About” section of his Twitter profile states that “opinions expressed here are solely my own and not the views of BioWare ULC.” We’re not going to take his reply on Twitter as an official statement from BioWare, but this is just another example in the long list of game developers who are perpetuating the male-centric nature of the gaming industry.
Hm, I wonder why the man Shepard is so iconic. Could it be because it’s the only character that BioWare’s marketing has ever used? Television ads, print ads, internet ads, you name it – they all feature the male version of Mass Effect’s player-controlled protagonist. It’s almost as if players cannot choose to make their character a woman. How disappointing (and not very surprising) it is that Houston acknowledges that female Shepard is the fan favorite but admits that marketing still chooses the male avatar for promotional materials.
The most upsetting aspect of his statement for me, is that he is labeling male Hawke as being iconic before Dragon Age 2 has even released to the public. He is only iconic because he’s the only character shown on every piece of promo material for the game. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. A producer on the game feels that the male version of their main characters are the most prominent representation of the game. You know what? He’s right. And it’s a sad truth. The male characters are definitely more visible, but it’s only because BioWare has made them that way. It’s a shame, because BioWare could have done things differently with Dragon Age 2 had it been a priority for them.
(Thanks to @AngryCSR for the tip)