Religion in Video Games and a thank you to Mass Effect Andromeda

In May 2017,  a member of ScaryGranules partook in an interview with well known gaming magazine for their special issue focusing on the Women in Games Awards, which they were nominated in a category. The subject of the specific article was about women in the gaming industry and misogynistic issues we’ve all had to deal with.

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My answers to these specific question talked about incidences, but my primary point, which I wanted to get across was that despite being a woman, who happens to be gay, that the main area where I received negative comments and derogatory encounters, was the religious one.

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This didn’t make it into the article, no doubt due to how it wasn’t deemed to be particularly related to direct misogyny and there were a lot of women being interviewed, so they were tight for space. There’s no hard feelings on that at all, but I thought it would be worth expanding on this specific area here and offering a bit more insight into who I am and what forms of abuse exist in the gaming (or any industry) that are just as important to be aware of.

Faith is a touchy subject and worth prefacing, this is a very personal thing and not meant to be a conversion write-up. This is actually not me intending to write specifically about my faith and every incident where someone behaved moronically when finding out I believe in God. It’s actually going to be a positive post, because I’m going to talk about a video game I love and how their latest installment did something no other game has so far and how it meant a lot to me.

The game is Mass Effect Andromeda. I had waited for this game for quite some time, being a massive fan of the series so far and of Bioware games in general.

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How does this tie in to the seemingly serious introduction? One character, well written and integrated in the universe with ease – Dr. Suvi Anwar

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Suvi is an astrophysicist and molecular biologist and views science as a means of understanding “the divine intelligence behind all of creation.” She has a great love for both and the manner with which she expresses this is one of calmness without subduing her passion and the strength of her convictions. Suvi also happens to be gay, not just an option for the male or female Ryder but she is exclusively gay. Suvi is very cute too and has a lovely Scottish accent, courtesy of Katy Townsend and she is a very dedicated member of the Nexus team.

Suvi is essentially the closest I’ve ever seen to a character that reflects who I am as a person and I never knew until playing Mass Effect Andromeda, that this was something that would stir any sort of emotions in me or mean so much.

I’ve played video games all my life, one of my first ‘full games’ that I encountered and completed was Duke Nukem 3D. I wasn’t put off by the sexism, the machismo, the gore or foul language. I enjoyed the game and still do to this day. Did I enjoy Duke Nukem Forever? Not one bit, and it did not help that they decided to implement ‘comical’ scenes where women are being raped by Aliens and Duke isn’t too shocked and spews some ridiculously crass nonsense as he watches this horror unfold.

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But overall while I’ve always believed that diversity in gaming is vital, be it the lead characters, the handling and writing of all characters or even just spicing up gaming cover artwork so it’s not just the same man in a different top, looking sullenly over his shoulder – I’ve not gone to bed crying and stopped myself from purchasing a game I was looking forward too. Perhaps that’s an issue for some, but something worth refocusing on in a different topic.

I happen to be gay and of Catholic faith, I don’t particularly boast or exude anything that would make you assume either/or, when you first met me. Unless you’re a girl and I made an attempt to flirt with you. By then you’ve run too far away to even find out my name let alone my beliefs or that I once got knocked down by a bus on Oxford Street.

People usually assume these days if you say you’re Catholic, it’s just how you were brought up or what’s stamped on documents. Not for me. It’s integral to who I am, it’s very real and it’s what I usually get insulted for the most, despite people knowing me for being a whiskey loving, funny (well I try my best to make people laugh and feel comfortable), open minded and geeky human-bean. But this is still something people aren’t comfortable with discussing and especially even thinking to ask about, when it comes to publications, interviews and general conversation.

But if someone attacks that which is core to your being, that which is part of who you are and keeps you going and is something that is wholly good, then it can have a negative effect and it can be extremely disheartening. No one should be made to feel that they need to leave a part of themselves behind to be accepted, if that part causes no harm.

I’m a full package and cover my own shipping.

Now back to the Mass Effect Andromeda again. As soon as I had started to learn more about Suvi and not long after completing the game, I wanted to share how I felt about this inclusion.

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I realised that I would never accurately express myself or the importance of this character on Instagram alone and decided to some day make a proper attempt and if no one reads this, then that’s ok. The interaction between Ryder and Suvi is how I hope to interact with people, when either party is sharing something important about themselves, not that I’m saying you have to flirt with everyone. What I mean is that the dialogue options offer respectful conversation that manages to neither negate nor placate the characters, regardless of their separate beliefs.

Bioware got a lot of flack about animations in their games, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the game. I’m excited to replay it. The action, the plot, the crew were excellently woven into the universe and the writing deserves a lot of credit. Bioware cater to many audiences with their games, they’re inclusive to the LGBT community for one, but to do something as subtly incorporated but eloquently handled as the introduction of Suvi, as a gay religious scientist, is one I’m grateful for and think is as important as any other demographic when under the remit of inclusion.

I’m glad I found time (working in video games leaves little time to enjoy video games sometimes), to articulate something I’ve wanted to share with, for some time. Though on my next Andromeda play-through, I’ll probably choose Peebee just to tick an eternal Asari mindtripping anti-gravity booty call, off the list.

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