BioWare Apologizes For Representation of Trans Character in Andromeda

bluegate

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Saelune said:
Because that is not who she is. A big bother of mine as a trans person is people viewing me not as who I am, but who I "was", because that wasnt really me.

Why must people cling to all these vague hypotheticals to justify a bad character?
Who is she then? She seemed perfectly comfortable mentioning once being Stephan. Why isn't that her? Does something come up later in the game, or is it a matter of projection?

I'm sorry that there are people who view you as who you were, rather than who you are now, but your being bothered by this doesn't mean that Hainly should be bothered by it also.
 

Saelune

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bluegate said:
Saelune said:
Because that is not who she is. A big bother of mine as a trans person is people viewing me not as who I am, but who I "was", because that wasnt really me.

Why must people cling to all these vague hypotheticals to justify a bad character?
Who is she then? She seemed perfectly comfortable mentioning once being Stephan. Why isn't that her? Does something come up later in the game, or is it a matter of projection?

I'm sorry that there are people who view you as who you were, rather than who you are now, but your being bothered by this doesn't mean that Hainly should be bothered by it also.
...Then why did she change herself in the first place?

Edit: Just in case my intent is unclear, why would she change her identity if she...identified as how she was?
 

happyninja42

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bluegate said:
But why? Why would she feel the need to hide it?

Fear of ridicule?
Fear of ridicule, fear of being ostracized, fear of physical violence, even death. Fear of being rejected by a potential lover, fear of losing her position/job, etc etc. I mean, you only need to look at IRL examples of this stuff to see why she would be hesitant to share that information.

bluegate said:
Maybe she is perfectly comfortable and confident, or maybe, the world of Mass Effect isn't as petty as to ridicule people who are trans gender. Wouldn't that be a nice Utopian vision for a fiction world, a world where trans people can normally acknowledge their past selves without "chancing throwing it all away"?
Except that's not the Mass Effect universe. There are examples of speciesm in the game. Humans hating Batarians, that guy on the bridge of the Normandy in the first game, who is very Human-centric in his beliefs. Ashley is also a great example of how the bigotry and narrow mindedness is still alive and well in the Mass Effect universe. And there are examples from the aliens as well. In ME2, I can remember a Batarian who makes a comment about humans in general, that was clearly bigoted, and I'm pretty sure there are others as well. Hell the Council in the Citadel were very clearly against the Humans, the Turian guy was especially anti-human.

Not to mention different species might have equally unfriendly beliefs about that kind of thing. For all we know, the Salarians see any attempts to change your gender identity as a threat to the genetic population. And given their short life spans, that could cause a huge population disparity, threatening the species. Or some such bullshit logic. It's all fictional so who knows, but the possibility is there.

And, again, this character, as written, is apparently NOT comfortable with her past. If so, why would she leave the fucking galaxy to leave that past? It makes no narrative or logical sense.
 

teamcharlie

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What? That original conversation seemed fine, if not particularly interesting. Is Bioware apologizing for not hiding their transgender character better?
 

happyninja42

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teamcharlie said:
What? That original conversation seemed fine, if not particularly interesting. Is Bioware apologizing for not hiding their transgender character better?
Except it's not normal. As people who are trans have pointed out, in this thread even, you don't just casually talk about that stuff. Especially if you are leaving a galaxy for a new start. Dragging your past into the open sort of negates the whole point of leaving that old self behind. Every trans I've met, are very sensitive about the subject, and don't discuss it directly. Granted, I haven't met many, only 2 that I know of, and possibly 4 (the other 2 were questionable to me based on appearance, but I never asked as it didn't matter to me), but it's still an issue that isn't casually talked about to a complete stranger.

But, I can compare it to other deeply personal things that people have shared with me. Like sexual trauma, addictions, etc. These things, were only ever even hinted at, after years of knowing them, and developing a connection. You don't just casually talk about things that are tied to potentially very traumatic experiences for you, with a person in the street. She's only just met Ryder, it's just not something she would offer up.

"Hi there, my names Beatrice, I'm coming to Andromeda because I was raped as a child. New galaxy, new life, new start. What's your name by the way?" Sorry but it just doesn't work that way.
 

PhoenixMaster

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They should apologize for making a bad game altogether. I mean really? Who is gonna be offended from this aside from a small vocal minority?
 

happyninja42

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PhoenixMaster said:
They should apologize for making a bad game altogether. I mean really? Who is gonna be offended from this aside from a small vocal minority?
I know right? Who gives a shit what minorities think.
 

Allaiyah Weyn

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BioWare apologizes to anyone HURT by this conversation? If anyone was HURT by it, they have a whole new level of mental fragility that can only be made from paper-thin glass.
 

Kingjackl

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Allaiyah Weyn said:
BioWare apologizes to anyone HURT by this conversation? If anyone was HURT by it, they have a whole new level of mental fragility that can only be made from paper-thin glass.
That's PR speak and you know it, but congratulations on not deriving any issue from something that doesn't affect you at all. How very brave.
 

PhoenixMaster

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Happyninja42 said:
PhoenixMaster said:
They should apologize for making a bad game altogether. I mean really? Who is gonna be offended from this aside from a small vocal minority?
I know right? Who gives a shit what minorities think.
You're taking my words out of context pal. I'm all for diversity and equality in media. In fact I think more creators should focus more on creating unique characters that aren't white or straight by their own will, as in they create what they want. Also, I never thought it was a problem when they included a transgendered character in Dragon Age Inquisition, or any of the gay relationships. Sometimes I think the people who complain about sjws can be overreactionary at times. What I think though,is making a big deal out of fucking pixels is just stupid! Do you really think actual transgendered people are gonna give a shit about a video game when they're much more important issues they're dealing with?
Maybe next time you don't give such a stupid response!
 

Drathnoxis

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Wow, he just asked what brought her there, he didn't ask for her life story.

But still, since when does Bioware apologize for badly written character? Where's my apology for having to suffer through hours of incessant whining from Carver? Huh!?
 

happyninja42

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PhoenixMaster said:
You're taking my words out of context pal.
No I didn't, you flat out said why should anyone worry about this, because the only people who would be upset by it are a minority group.

PhoenixMaster said:
Do you really think actual transgendered people are gonna give a shit about a video game when they're much more important issues they're dealing with?
Well, seeing as several transgendered people HAVE voice their displeasure and concern about this very thing, yes, yes I do think they are going to give a shit about it. Some of them are even in this very thread, and have said as much.


PhoenixMaster said:
Maybe next time you don't give such a stupid response!
Haha...hahahahaha...HAHAHAHAAH. Oh the irony, thank you pal, you made me chuckle today.
 

Imre Csete

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Drathnoxis said:
But still, since when does Bioware apologize for badly written character? Where's my apology for having to suffer through hours of incessant whining from Carver? Huh!?
Selective Artistic Integrity?
 

infohippie

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SirSullymore said:
infohippie said:
More like making the human squad mates boring as fuck for the fourth time in a row.
Hey, Jack and Zaeed were cool.
Eh, Zaeed was okay. Jack was really annoying though. Her missions were great, she wasn't.
 

NemotheElvenPanda

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This is a serious question: who was more offended by this? Actual players who are transgender or are transgender allies, or the people who complain about "cultural marxism" whenever an LGBT character is in a game? I feel like it's more of the latter.

Yes, it's hamfisted, but it's not like names, changing names, and deadnames aren't topics of conversation sometimes with transgender people. Granted, it wouldn't happen out of the blue and usually involves close confidants. Then again, this game takes place about eight-hundred years from now, so transitioning is probably so seamless and accepted that deadnaming isn't an issue as it is now.
 

IceForce

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Drathnoxis said:
Wow, he just asked what brought her there, he didn't ask for her life story.
I dunno why so many people are surprised by this. It's almost like no one's played a Bioware game before (or any western RPG, for that matter).
Every NPC you talk to (who isn't just a 'filler' NPC / background decoration) will always spill their guts to the player and tell them all about themselves and describe all their problems and woes... all to a person they've only just met.

It's not a 'trans' issue, more than it's just an issue with videogame storytelling in general.
 

Elijin

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maninahat said:
So in defence of their crappily written trans dialogue, all their NPC dialogue is crap? It isn't a great defence.

I think there is a difference too. Outside of playing joke characters in comedy movies, trans people have been near non-existent in popular media and entertainment, until as recently as the last few years. So people do have a reason to pay attention when they finally start writing them into stories, because its a bit more significant when a trans character finally turns up, only to be badly written.
Actually I meant 90% of NPC dialogue in the RPG genre is garbage. Only the occasional glorious nugget's raise to the top of the NPC pile.
 

Robert B. Marks

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I posted this in the thread for my Note From Garwulf, but I think it's worth repeating here:

Regarding this matter, there's something that I think needs to be explained (and it isn't obvious if you haven't spent a few years writing fiction at a professional level) - it actually wasn't bad writing. And, wow...this is going to take a decent amount of explanation.

Here we go..."Speculative Fiction Dialogue 101."

Most dialogue in speculative fiction is naturalistic, but not natural. It aims to feel real, but for a number of reasons it can't actually reflect the reality of two people having a conversation in certain circumstances. The reason for this is that there is always an unseen third party in the conversation who has to understand it (or, if the story at that point requires it, NOT understand it): the reader/viewer/player.

Consider for a moment how much information is left unsaid in any given real-world conversation. We don't reiterate the stuff we already know. If two people have been friends for ten years, nobody reminds the other of that - they both already know. The reader/viewer/player, however, doesn't. The issue is how to convey this information in a way that doesn't feel clumsy or ruin immersion.

Dialogue is a good way of doing this, if you're careful. So, you could have a character say, "I've known you for ten years, and..." - it feels like something somebody COULD say (even though it actually isn't), but it's still a bit clumsy, and that makes it passable rather than good. A better thing would be to have the character say, "In the ten years I've known you, you've always..." - that flows better while still conveying the information. Again, though, nobody actually talks this way - it's dropping information that both characters already know, but the reader/viewer/player doesn't.

Or, put another way, to get best results you're passing the information to the reader/viewer/player under the table such that it is received and understood, but they aren't really aware that it is being passed at all.

That's character building - world building can be even trickier. If you're writing something set in the here and now, you've got a number of shortcuts that allow you to skip part of this, because all of the assumptions the reader/viewer/player will make about how things work will hold true in the story. But, if you're building a fantasy or science fiction world, it doesn't - and as a rule, a reader/viewer/player will assume that somethings works as it does in the here and now unless they are told otherwise.

So, how do you do this? Taking an example from my story "For the Digital Green Fields of Aldamar" (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/columns/garwulfs-corner/17251-For-the-Digital-Green-Fields-of-Aldamar-Full-Version), you've got a story about MMOs being used as a tool of totalitarian social control. This means that what we would interpret today as online addiction is the norm in this particular future world. To pass this information along, I used a third character in the opening scene. So, there were two characters (Dave and Skazz), each of whom is taking a different position (being online all the time is good for Dave, being online all the time is bad for Skazz) - then, the third character, Terry, expresses surprise at SKAZZ. This conveys to the reader that the online addiction behavior is normal using nothing more than dialogue - and in the story, Terry only exists to deliver that dialogue. When the butchered version went through editing, Terry was removed, and this caused serious problems in the entire story - to fix it I had to add a line in Dave's thoughts about how what Skazz said was abnormal, but because it was coming from the character who already had been established to be an online addict, it didn't have nearly the impact of having Terry in the scene to express surpise.

Turning this to Hainly in ME:A, the writers have to accomplish two things: 1. Establish her character and backstory QUICKLY (after all, she's a minor NPC, so she's not getting a lot of time for character development); 2. Establish how transgendered people are seen and treated in this future world.

And, that's what her dialogue does. She drops the fact that she's gone through the transition as a piece of trivia as part of her backstory, and it does play into the "getting a fresh start" idea that she's talking about, so it is something that somebody could conceivably say. Ryder reacts to it as though it is trivia, but this only sets up Ryder's reaction - the third parties are the people standing around, who do not react to this at all. So, Hainly treats it as trivia, Ryder treats it as trivia, and all of the third parties treat it as trivia. As a result, the viewer/player becomes aware that being transgender is not a big deal in this future world, without clubbing them over the head with the information.

Here's where it gets tricky (as though it wasn't already) - as somebody who (as I mention in my article) comes from a family and non-visible minority that has fought its battle for acceptance and come out the other side, this conversation rang true to me. I've had variations of this conversation, where I mentioned my Judaism (which two generations before would have been intensely personal and a guarded secret) as a piece of trivia that was relevant to the topic at hand. So, even if this is something that feels inconceivable now, it would probably ring true to a transgender person 50 years from now, who grew up in a world where being transgendered is just a piece of personal trivia.

But, as so many comments suggest, it clearly did not ring true to transgendered people in the here and now. And there was a big mistake made: the "deadnaming," which somebody who is not part of the transgender community would easily be unaware of, and that caused clear problems. But, again, this makes it flawed writing, but not bad writing. The information that needed to be conveyed was conveyed without relying on an infodump (such as "As you are no doubt aware, back in my grandfather's day transgender people like me were treated..."), it is used as a relevant answer to a question that Ryder asked ("Why are you out here?" "Well, back home I didn't feel like I was who I should be or was doing what I should be, so I changed myself and came out here."), and for most people the dialogue probably worked. So, the writing is passable.

Which leads us to the next tricky question: what would have made it good?

And make no mistake, this IS tricky. In this format you can't use Hainly as a point of view character and just write about some moment she remembered back before her transition. So, dialogue is all you've really got. You can adjust it to resonate with the modern day transgender community, as Bioware has stated they are doing, but this then leads viewers/players with the understanding that what it is to be a transgendered person in the ME:A future is what it means now, as there is no worldbuilding that suggests otherwise. And, you can only go so far in what Hainly says to fill in the gaps - if she says "You know, back in my grandfather's day, transgendered people were..." it won't feel connected to the conversation, and will end up a badly written infodump (and the same would hold true if Ryder said, "Wasn't it true that back in our grandfather's day, transgendered people were..."). Also, you can't have Hainly refer to being a man in a past incident before her transition, because it wouldn't feel right to have her say, "Back when I was a man, I saw..." because her sex at the time would be irrelevant to the memory - it would not feel like a piece of information she would volunteer alongside her account of the incident.

(And, again, speculative fiction dialogue is all about what FEELS like something somebody would say - a lot of times, it's conveying information that nobody would never feel the need to say aloud. So, the trick is to strike a balance between what the reader/viewer would THINK somebody might say while putting words into a character's dialogue that they wouldn't actually say.)

If I was doing it, I'd probably give Hainly an additional line that was something like, "I know it's a bit extreme, but I wanted a complete fresh start - after all, if you're going to do something, why do it by half measures...and who could resist a new galaxy to explore?" This would feel like something she would say, convey that she didn't feel the need to move to a new galaxy just to change her sex (which is something people got out of it), and add some additional characterization (an adventurous spirit, etc.). But other than also removing the deadnaming, I don't think I'd do much more than that - it is a really delicate balance, and the minute something feels too far off from what somebody would say in real life, the immersion for the reader/viewer/player is shattered.

So, that's why it's not bad writing. It could be better, and it did make a big mistake that destroyed immersion for transgendered people, but it actually WAS passable for what needed to be conveyed.
 

an annoyed writer

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I'm kinda glad they're doing this slight revamp, it really helps ground the character as more than just a cheap PR stunt. At the same time though, it is understandable that people would be mad about this getting a quick fix while other aspects seem to be put on the backburner. That said, this is a writing and dialogue thing that is a bit easier of a fix than say, rebalancing combat or redoing animations. Kinda wish they would get some of their better animators on the job though... 'my face is tired' is not a good excuse for looking like some sick freak made a flesh puppet out of someone's cadaver.
 

Silketrix

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I don't even understand the call to add a transsexual (or intersexed) character. We're just men and women like everybody else. The game is filled with them. I play Sara and she does a fine job of representing me. I play a game to have fun, my birth condition doesn't define me, let alone the way I experience games.
Quite frankly, I couldn't care less.