Mass Effect 2 Writer Confirms Jack Was Originally Pansexual

Fox News, as usual, is to blame for Jack’s sexuality change.
Fox News, as usual, is to blame for Jack’s sexuality change.
Screenshot: BioWare / EA

During a recent interview with TheGamer, former BioWare writer Brian Kindregan finally confirmed something that everyone who played the game already knew in their bones: Mass Effect 2 crew member Jack was originally pansexual, rather than exclusively romanceable by a male Shephard.

“It was actually very late [in development] that [Jack’s romance] became a male/female-only romance,” Kindregan, who was the main writer on Jack’s story, explained. “She was essentially pansexual for most of the development of that romance.”

While stopping short of outright blaming Fox News for the change, Kindregan said that the right-wing news channel’s absurd coverage of the sex scenes in the first Mass Effect gave the folks at BioWare cold feet when it came to implementing what would have been, at the time, the series’ only bisexual romance (the Asari race is considered monogender and thus Liara T’Soni technically doesn’t count). The change was made even more frustrating thanks to parts of Jack’s backstory painting her as someone interested in multiple genders.

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It should be noted that, around the time of Mass Effect 2’s release, former BioWare quality assurance analyst Stanley Woo publicly denied that any consideration was made to Fox News’ reporting during the game’s development.

BioWare’s Mass Effect series has garnered a reputation since its debut in 2007 for providing players with the fantasy of romancing a variety of alien species while traipsing across the universe. But for all its Star Trek-style wish fulfillment, the franchise is surprisingly sparse on same-sex romances. I’m not saying that a pansexual Jack would have fixed all that, of course, but maintaining her interest in both the male and female versions of Commander Shephard would have definitely been a step in the right direction.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject: BioWare, please make Thane bi. Not letting me get gay with that lovely lizard man borders on hate crime territory. Thank you.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

michaelalwill
michaelalwill

Hopefully I’m not about to open a can of worms here, but has the term “bisexual” become synonymous with “pansexual” in recent years? I’m surprised because before the last few years, hearing that a character or person was pansexual was exceedingly rare, and the only instance I can think of is the Dean from Community being referred to as pansexual.

Furthermore, I’m curious what pansexuality means in the Mass Effect universe in this context. Jack was meant to be romanceable by MaleShep and FemShep but the gender options were strictly binary, so was Jack always meant to be pansexual (despite the lack of gender options) and/or does pansexual mean something broader (say, attraction to all/several species) In the Mass Effect universe?

Again, not trying to open up a can of worms or harsh on anyone here—sexuality in science fiction is a fascinating topic to me and I haven’t encountered all that many works that explore it outside of a 21st century human framework.