Hainly Abrams is a transgender character in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and while BioWare may deserve a pat on the back for an attempt at inclusion, the portrayal has caused more harm than good. BioWare has heard the blowback and is moving to fix the situation.
One of the chief complaints in Abrams' portrayal is her freely acknowledging her "dead name" to the Ryder twins. A dead name is the name the individual used to be called before transition, and it is often a sensitive issue as a source of pain and conflict before taking on the new life. In the transgender community, the name is usually only given after a long period of trust has been built up with another individual, something that was not the case in the off-hand comment to Ryder when Abrams mentioned why she left the Milky Way for Andromeda. The disclosure and explanation of why Abrams left proved that BioWare did not fully understand a transgender individual or the issues involved before including Abrams in the game
In the blog post detailing upcoming changes to the game, BioWare General Manager Aaryn Flynn mentioned changes to Abrams character were coming. And BioWare even went so far as to officially apologize for its insensitivity.
Regarding Hainly Abrams: pic.twitter.com/nFpUKihqOj— BioWare (@bioware) April 5, 2017
“Hainly Abrams was not included in a caring or thoughtful way," BioWare tweeted. "We apologize to anyone who interacted with or was hurt by this conversation.”
The company said it has worked with the transgender community and that it will make appropriate changes. When the game is patched within the next two months, Hainly will "only reveal certain information to Ryder after they have developed trust, and only if the player chooses to support her.”
The controversy is yet another misstep for BioWare and Mass Effect: Andromeda, which is struggling with image problems already after animation issues and facial glitches marred the game's launch and has already impacted sales as several reatilers have started deep discounts on the game. Even with patches and changes, the game's reputation may not be salvagable.