The asari case is interesting and specific. Considered a monogendered species, the asari are portrayed with a very feminine design and standard game-industry sexualized bodies. However, as the species is monogendered, the idea of “same sex relationship” is not applicable. They only have one gender but it reads as female, or at least feminine. In the fictional universe, a relationship between an asari and any of the bi-gendered species (such as humans or turians) or between an asari and a species with unknown gender (such as the hanar), cannot be truly understood as an “LGBTQ” or heterosexual relationship. Despite these issues, the game text often refers to asari using feminine pronouns instead of gender-neutral pronouns. The same happens when asari talk about themselves and their culture, as they use words as “matriarchs” and “huntress” for determined functions within asari society. It is possible, however, to use the game logic to explain these discrepancies. The player reads and listens the game in English (although subtitles may vary), due to galactic translator equipment that automatically translates alien language into English. It is said several times in the game that the translation also uses terms appropriate to the cultural background of each species. Therefore it is possible to infer that the human player hears asari referring themselves as female because of human gender systems.
Despite this, the “off-universe” perspective allows a clearly gendered reading of the species as female and hypersexualized. A discussion in ME2 between male turians, salarians, and humans also demonstrates the possibility that asari can manipulate other species’ perceptions of themselves so that they appear attractive according to each species’ norms (see video below).
It is acceptable from an off-universe perspective to consider asari female characters. One should keep in mind that both readings are possible, but this archive will consider the asari from an “off-universe” perspective.
LGBTQ references in this game:
- Asari. Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Asari
- Evil Chicken MEDIA. (2010, January 23). Mass Effect 2: The Bachelor Party. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ7r80IOxtE