Mass Effect: Andromeda Releases Today, but It’s Already Well into Controversy

Mass Effect Andromeda Release and Gamergate Controversy

Bioware

Mass Effect: Andromeda, the highly anticipated latest installment in Bioware’s Mass Effect series, is officially out today, with some gamers and media outlets having recently previewed the game before launch. Critical response so far has been mixed, but before it was even out, players had picked up on some bizarre features in the game—specifically the awkward facial animations of the characters. Rather than chalking it up to an overeager release or a case of game preview gone awry (and having a laugh at a AAA game), some people have chosen to take a very, very low road.

A harassment campaign has been launched, targeting an alleged female animator who was blamed for the animation woes. Aside from breaking all of the codes of common decency, the droves of angry Internet trolls seem to have forgotten that games, especially ones of Mass Effect’s caliber, are made by huge groups of people. Nevertheless, the woman in question was bombarded on social media with threats and varying degrees of harassment. The target of all of this rage, Allie Rose-Marie Leost, was accused by a Gamergate veteran in a blog post. Aside from calling Leost inexperienced, the poster also insinuated sexual favors in exchange for Leost’s job, writing, “Oh, I bet she’s very experienced indeed. I have an idea how she landed this gig.”

On March 18, BioWare posted a tweet both condemning the attacks and correcting some false information that had led up to them, describing a “former EA employee” who was not a “lead member” on the Andromeda project. Leost’s role with the game is not clear, though there have been some screenshots surfacing that show the role in her Twitter bio and LinkedIn profile.

The lead designer for the game, Ian Soon Frazier, answered a tweet questioning whether or not the animations would be fixed in time for launch: “At day 1? No, that ship has sailed. We’ll have more patches later on, but exactly what goes into them is still in discussion.” Frazier appears to still be answering questions about the game, and his profile seems to be free of overt harassment.

There was an issue back in December of last year with facial animations as well, when viewers noticed some awkward facial movement in a game trailer that played at the 2016 Game Awards. So this could all very well be yet another case of a rushed game, but it’s definitely not the fault of a lone employee, who may or may not have even worked on the project.

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