In the latest entry of EA’s #PlayAs1 series, Mass Effect writer Ann Lemay talks about her experience developing Nyreen Kandros for the Mass Effect 3 Omega DLC.
#PlayAs1 is a project from EA’s Diversity and Inclusion team. In the series, different women from the videogames industry highlight noteworthy, positive experiences they’ve had creating games.
“Creating diverse and engaging female characters—or any character that isn’t both white and male—should not be such an issue,” Lemay wrote. “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.”
In the post, Lemay talks about the surprisingly smooth experience she had getting a greenlight to create Nyreen Kandros, Aria’s foil in the Mass Effect 3 Omega DLC.
According to Lemay, Nyreen started out as an asari gang lord, but when asked for her thoughts on the character, Lemay pushed for a stronger female character who would complement Aria in a significant way. Lemay said her experience pitching Nyreen was “the simplest and smoothest” she’d ever had, “particularly for the creation of a significant female character.”
“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,” described Lemay. “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.”