The awkward facial animations of Mass Effect: Andromeda have been roundly mocked and criticized online since the start of the game’s early trial, but things took a darker turn after an individual was specifically targeted as being responsible for the facial animations. Because of the campaign, developer BioWare has released an official statement denouncing the harassment on its official Twitter account.
“Recently, a former EA employee was misidentified as a lead member of the Mass Effect: Andromeda development team. These reports are false,” read the statement from Aaryn Flynn, BioWare studio general manager. “We respect the opinions of our players and community, and welcome feedback on our games. But attacking individuals, regardless of their involvement in the project, is never acceptable.”
The harassment started against Allie Rose-Marie Leost, who has worked at Electronic Arts’ motion-capture labs in Vancouver, after claims online stated that she was responsible for the facial animation issues seen with some characters in the game. Leost was then hit with huge amounts of abuse online, which prompted BioWare to quickly put up a statement to try and curb the harassment campaign.
— BioWare (@bioware) March 18, 2017
Until this online abuse started, the criticism of the facial animation had been fairly light-hearted, with BioWare even taking time to respond to the memes surrounding the issue. However, it has turned into yet another black mark when it comes to targeted abuse against an individual working in the industry. Debate has fired up online regarding the level of Leost’s responsibility with regards to the animations, but regardless of how much influence Leost had on Mass Effect: Andromeda, this reaction is completely unacceptable.
This is not the only time that a female game developer tied to BioWare has been the target of harassment, either. Jennifer Hepler was forced out of the company by death threats and abuse, including threats against her family, after criticism of the writing seen in Dragon Age 2. Meanwhile, many other games industry members have suffered from targeted hate over video games, such as the death threats against No Man’s Sky developer Sean Murray and those sent against Skyrim paid mod creators.
Once again, the issue of video game-based targeted harassment has raised its ugly head, and once more questions will be asked as to the benefits of game creators opening themselves up to communication over social media sites such as Twitter. Hopefully, BioWare’s statement will at least make those involved in the campaign think twice before sending further abusive messages.