Mass Effect's dialogue was inspired by awkward TV comedy Extras

"This is not a joke." 

Remember 2005 British TV comedy series Extras, written by The Office duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant? The one where Gervais played an actor stuck making a living as an extra, and where a string of guest stars like Ben Stiller, Patrick Stewart and Samuel L. Jackson appeared? The late, great David Bowie even popped up in Series 2. Good, wasn't it?

Anyway, it turns out the show's awkward, close conversations were the unlikely inspiration for a very well known series of video games: BioWare's Mass Effect.

Mass Effect animator Jonathan Cooper shared the detail on Twitter in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the US release of Mass Effect 1.

"The close over-the-shoulder camera style I used for conversations in Mass Effect was inspired primarily by Ricky Gervais's The Extras," he wrote. "This is not a joke - that entire series was built on awkward, close conversations."

The stills he used illustrate his point were from the Extras episode with Les Dennis, the British actor and comedian known for hosting TV game show Family Fortunes every day of my life, it felt like. Dennis is nowhere near as famous as stars like Ben Stiller, so the episode was even more awkward and close to the bone.

Cooper's other revelations about Mass Effect were less exciting, although in the scene where Captain Anderson punches diplomat Udina, the person being mo-capped as Anderson did accidentally thump the person portraying Udina.

Mass Effect was released 20th November 2007 in the US, and 23rd November here. I actually ran home to play it. Remember that title screen music? Man!

BioWare reflected on 10 years of Mass Effect on what it calls N7 Day - November 7th - earlier this month. A seven-minute video took a trip down memory lane, and an interactive tapestry tool was released for you to use to chart all your choices through the series.

But the series as a whole has been put on ice. Mass Effect Andromeda failed to rekindle the magic and excitement for the PS4 and Xbox One era, and so has been put to bed while BioWare focuses on Anthem, a shared world shooter like Destiny, instead.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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