Since the release of the preview for Mass Effect: Andromeda, the game has come under fire by critics and the internet as a whole for poor facial animations and movement. The story became more than simple game design commentary, however, when folk targeted Allie Rose-Marie Leost, operating under the belief that she was the lead facial animator for the project. Rape threats, harassment, and other inappropriate actions followed. Bioware, the game’s developer, has since stated that Leost was not the lead animator. This, however, is a contradiction of Leost’s own statements as recently as ten days ago.
Let’s start by talking about Bioware’s statement. Released in the last 48 hours, Bioware’s General Manager, Aaryn Flynn, made a statement saying, in the vaguest terms they could manage, that Leost was not the lead designer. The full text is pictured on the left.
Contradicting their claim, however, is Leost’s own Instagram and Twitter, which, as recently as March 9th, indicated that she was the lead facial animator for the game. She tweeted, on March 12, 2016:
“Sorry I’ve been so inactive, guys! I’m currently working on Mass Effect: Andromeda and believe me…”
The message was followed by a link, which is no longer available, but the tweet can still be seen on her account. More damning than that, however, is the archived evidence from Instagram, which indicates she claimed to be the lead facial designer on March 9th, 2017, when it was archived. That photo is available on the right.
Beyond this, there is also archived evidence of her recent role within Bioware on Twitter, where critics compiled a screenshot of her formerly indicating that she had the position which both she and Bioware claim she did not have. This leaves one of two possibilities: Either Bioware is lying, or Leost falsely claimed to be the lead facial designer when she wasn’t.
Is it possible that Leost simply forgot to remove the title from her pages after being fired? Perhaps, but her activity on Twitter between the March 12th, 2016 post and the start of the drama makes it far less likely to be a case of “Woops, I haven’t been on that site in a while, my credentials are out of date.” Bioware was evasive, stating only that a person had been misidentified as the lead facial designer, rather than saying Leost was misidentified, or that the person misattributed with the role was not an employee at all. That evasiveness gives them the wiggle room to dodge accusations that the statement was about her, or to say that she was only a facial designer, not the lead if the situation requires.
There is no question that Leost did not deserve the lascivious, hateful comments she has received. The question of the day is “Did Bioware lie?”
What do you think?