Here is maybe a crazy idea…Games, at least for me, can have a bigger impact than just being something that I play for my own personal enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, I play games to enjoy them. But sometimes, sometimes games can have an unintended impact, one that I would have never foreseen…
The Mass Effect trilogy are games that I hold near and dear to my heart. This is partly due to the games being such well-done and creative games but it is also due to the fact that the Mass Effect trilogy helped me figure out a piece of my identity that I struggled a lot with back in middle school and high school.
Just to come out and say it, I am gay, and that was a part of me that I struggled with for a very long time. It was part of me that I had felt like wasn’t normal. I thought I was wrong for being “that way” because by and large, at the time, it never felt like being gay was an okay thing. There was never any real representation for it on TV and I had never encountered a gay character within a video game, so when Mass Effect gave me the option to romance Liara while I played a female Shepard. Well, that changed my life.
I remember feeling a mix of elation and nervousness at the thought of picking Liara T’Soni as my romantic partner. I know it was just a video game but I was still on the fence about whether to pick Kaidan Alenko and just call it a day so that I was not giving into the side of me that I had not come to accept just yet. However, I threw caution to the wind and just went with it. I chose Liara and I had no regrets.
The thing about having a “female” romance option as a female Shepard in Mass Effect is that absolutely no character makes a big deal about it. Nobody cares that you are a female romancing a female, nobody cares that it is a lesbian relationship. In the game, it just was what it was and to me that was beautiful.
There was complete acceptance, so much so that the relationship was just a relationship. It wasn’t a lesbian relationship, it was a relationship. Two people who loved each other and respected each other enough to be together as a couple. There was no fanfare, no changed dialogue (except for that which came from Liara’s own character, not from the fact that the relationship was in all technicality a gay one). It was all just refreshingly normal, it made me feel normal.
Mass Effect went a long way in helping me normalize homosexuality in my head and as a result I learned to recognize that part of my identity as completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It was a big push in me accepting myself as a person and starting to see myself as less of a girl that was going to hell and more as a person who was just trying to live their life. Because I am. I am just trying to live my life to the best of my ability and by loving whoever makes me darn diddly happy.