BioWare cuts off GamerGate complaint about Mass Effect facial animations

Mass Effect Andromeda
BioWare/Electronic Arts

An online harassment campaign directed at a former employee of Electronic Arts, blaming her for the poor animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda, has summoned a defense from BioWare.

This afternoon, the studio published this statement:

pic.twitter.com/VAYZSG32fG

— BioWare (@bioware) March 18, 2017

It is an oblique rebuttal of this claim, made yesterday by Ethan Ralph, that the "lead facial animator" at Electronic Arts' Montréal studio is a woman who ascended to that role only because of her celebrity as a cosplayer.

BioWare's statement above refutes that she ever was in a position of leadership, or that she is currently employed by the studio. It's unclear what her status with BioWare is or was. We’ve reached out to an Electronic Arts representative to confirm.

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Ralph's post yesterday, igniting the harassment campaign, included a screenshot of Allie Rose-Marie Leost's Twitter page in which she identified herself as "lead facial animator for Mass Effect: Andromeda." That claim has since changed.

Mass Effect: Andromeda launches Tuesday on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. The game is available in preview on Electronic Arts' EA Access and Origin Access subscription services.

In the preview window, it has come under intense fire for its poor character animations, particularly in dialogue sequences where facial animations, coupled with sequenced dialogue, give off a robotic vibe emblematic of role-playing games from one or more console generations ago. These deficiencies won’t be patched by or before launch.

More like Mass Effect: Androids because
YOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/K4JdhQ5dcc

— Nibel (@Nibellion) March 16, 2017

Still, given the numerous people involved in the final presentation of character models in a game, from motion capture through to final animation, the accusation of a single person being responsible seems like quite an overreach.

GamerGate, however, has been preoccupied with the conspicuous inclusion of women, minorities or other marginalized groups, whether as characters in a video game story or on a development team. Its many sympathizers openly and vehemently resent the inclusion or publicity of either as an insincere social indoctrination by politically correct forces. Their hostility is typically channeled through social media or Reddit.

Leost is also a cosplayer, though her Facebook page seems to have been taken down in the wake of this controversy. Ralph is well known as a GamerGate advocate through his site, The Ralph Retort.

The journalist Brad Glasgow, who has written extensively about GamerGate, deplored the blaming of Leost for the problems Mass Effect: Andromeda is facing.

This is a really crappy thing to do. There is no reason to single out someone at BioWare because you don't like their work. pic.twitter.com/FzOFBblZ82

— Brad Glasgow (@Brad_Glasgow) March 18, 2017

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