The Mass Effect trilogy of games is set in the relatively distant future, 2183 CE, when humans have become capable of faster than light travel and have become part of an intergalactic community. The technology may be highly advanced in this universe, but society is still plagued by familiar issues such as racism. This series of games not only portrays racism, but through the interactive medium, allows the player to recognize and correct it.
The overarching plot of Mass Effect is that in deep space dwells an ancient race of intelligent synthetic-organic starships that regularly cull all organic life in the galaxy. Sheppard, the main character, must unite the forces of the galaxy to fight against the menace, a task complicated by the tensions and division between the many races. Though the Mass Effect universe contains a wealth of different races, few races maintain focus throughout the course of the story. The focal races include the krogan, quarians, asari, and turians.
The krogan are depicted as brutish warmongers that exist to fight, expand, and procreate with the intention of continuing their legacy. Consequently, other’s opinions of them range from wariness to abhorrence. Quarians are a gypsy race, looked down upon as thieves, beggars, and vagabonds. They are blamed for bringing their plight of homelessness upon themselves, and shunned for it. Excessive violence, crime, and helplessness due to slothfulness or poor decisions are commonly perpetuated stereotypes. These portrayals of minorities in Mass Effect may be played up, but still reflect modern bigoted views of African Americans.
Asari are seen as the most powerful and influential race in the game, and are highly regarded for it. They receive th...
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... inclusivity and instead opt for discrimination. If this route is taken, the game becomes significantly more difficult. Rather than gathering allies, the main character would distance themselves from the other races, putting burden on a narrower base. Consequently, it is likely that the player would cause significantly more destruction to their own kind at the end of the game than if they had shared the load. This serves as a way to explain possible harms associated with racism such as social impacts (Bowser).
Mass Effect is a game series that delivers a very clear message about racism, showing flaws and negative effects of bigotry while promoting unity and multiculturalism. There are many strong parallels between the inequities in game and in reality. Though it isn’t a perfect game, it does show how games can be used as an interactive medium to explore social issues
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