A person identified as the one who worked on Mass Effect: Andromeda's facial animations, which received flak recently for looking "awkward," is under vitriolic fire, becoming the target of an online harassment beginning Saturday, March 18.
Mass Effect: Andromeda's 'Awkward' Facial Animations
Allie Rose-Marie Leost, the person in question, has now received hateful, troll-infused, and even misogynistic comments from a number of users.
Leost was identified as such by right-wing blog TheRalphRetort, as reported by Kotaku. The blog's author was apparently frustrated with the facial animations in the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda and even went as far as alleging that Leost, which according to the blog post is a lead animator in Electronic Arts' motion-capture labs, landed the job by performing sexual acts.
Sexist, Hateful Attacks Issued By Users
Kotaku captured a screenshot showing few of the reactions among many that Leost received. One user stated that Leost ruined Mass Effect, hoping that she'll get fired as soon as possible. Other tweets are worse-sounding, with users taking jabs at Leost's job performance, even going as far as to suggest that sex acts be performed upon her so she "can learn a few more facial expressions."
BioWare Claims Reports Are False
BioWare, the developers of the game in question, called the reports as false, suggesting that TheRalphRetort and the ensuing barrage of reports misidentified Leost as a lead member of the Mass Effect: Andromeda team.
"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" stated BioWare in a tweet.
Ethan Ralph, author of the blog post, didn't back down despite BioWare's official statement.
"First off, not buying it. Second off, she identified herself as such, which would make her a liar if your statement is true," Ralph tweeted.
Kotaku notes that there has been confusion on whether Leost's social media post indicated that she was a lead. The fact is that she actually worked at EA Labs, not at the Andromeda team's office in Montreal.
Lead or not, attacks issued Leost's way is an example of how online spaces can go awry rapidly, and often without ample restrictive measures. The harassment is reminiscent of several death and rape threats directed at women in 2014 over the GamerGate controversy, an online campaign targeting critic Anita Sarkeesian for raising questions about how women were portrayed in video games.
It's worth noting that while there's definitely reason to suspect Mass Effect: Andromeda of not polishing the game's many facial animations, it's unproductive and erroneous to ascribe all the wrongdoing on a single individual, let alone if that individual's involvement is still contested. It's certain that there were a number of people who worked on and developed the final presentation of character models in the game, going through the laborious stages of motion capture through to final animation. Putting all that in a single pair of shoulders probably isn't the best way to address the "issue."
Mass Effect: Andromeda officially hits shelves on March 21, though users can be privy to a 10-hour first spin if they sign up for a monthly subscription with EA Access or Origin Access.