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Mass Effect writer says creating diverse female characters shouldn't be an issue

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Mass Effect writer Ann Lemay believes that creating diversity in video games shouldn't be a contentious issue and video games would better off with diverse characters.

"Creating diverse and engaging female characters — or any character that isn't both white and male — should not be such an issue," Lemay wrote on the official EA blog as part of its #PlayAs1 series.

The series is a project of EA's Diversity and Inclusion team where women in the video games industry are invited to write about their positive experiences and share their thoughts.

"If we can move beyond the resistance to such characters in our games, both as non-player characters and as main protagonists, I honestly believe that we'll end up with richer narratives and a broader audience, and the industry ends up with a bigger and more interesting playground," Lemay says.

Lemay relates her positive experience pitching a strong female character in the Mass Effect universe. The character of Nyreen, who was initially intended as an asari and a local gang lord, didn't have much bearing in the Mass Effect 3 Omega DLC she appeared in.

So Lemay pitched some changes to Nyreen's background so she would have a direct weight to the storyline and be a stronger character. She found the idea was met with little resistance and was the "simplest and smoothest" request process she had gone through in her years of working in the industry.

"When I made the suggestion to Eric Chartrand, our lead designer in Montreal, he simply nodded pensively and told me he'd go ask about the availability of budget and time for an entirely new character design," Lemay wrote. "The proposal implied the creation of an entirely new rig and model: an expensive undertaking, but the only way to introduce such an important character to the Mass Effect universe. The question made its way through management, and barely one week later, Nyreen Kandros was fully approved."

Past #Playas1 features posts from Dead Space associate producer Yara Khoury and Sarah Dahl from The Sims 3 team.

The post comes shortly after Dontnod's creative director Jean-Maxime Moris told the Penny Arcade Report that some publishers baulked at publishing the title because Remember Me's protagonist was a woman.

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