Mass Effect – ur doin it wrong

According to Wired and Gamasutra, Jennifer Hale’s performance as the female Commander Sheppard is better than Mark Meer’s performance as the male Commander Sheppard, and players who pick a male Sheppard are missing out.

I think there’s a contradiction between the two articles – the Wired piece ties in to the user data Bioware released earlier about player habits in Mass Effect 2, with the statistic that 80% of players picked a male Sheppard to play as. The Gamasutra article mentions the popularity of the female Sheppard as attracting “the attentions of hundreds, if not thousands of people”. I’d argue that it all adds up to the female Sheppard not being that popular after all, but then again I don’t know of any Mass Effect fansites all about the male Sheppard, so I could very well be wrong.

Where all this rubs me up the wrong way is Bioware’s insistence that you are genuinely role-playing a character. A good while ago, Bioware was asked about how the female Sheppard could become romantically involved with other women, but the male Sheppard couldn’t get involved with other men. They said “Sometimes, in some of our games, we are going to have a defined character with a more defined view”. In other words, you can choose certain things for your character (like, whether they’re nice and cuddly or a murdering cunt), but Bioware has already chosen certain things for you (female Sheppard would totally do a woman, male Sheppard would totally not do a man).

In a game series where your choices define pretty much everything between the main plot, I made the most important choice about both games (apart from choosing to buy them, and install them, and run them etc) within my first minute of running the first Mass Effect – I picked the gender I wanted my protagonist to be. God damn it, I so wanted to say something snarky here about not picking the female Sheppard cos I’m sick of Jennifer Hale’s voice cos I’ve heard it in every game from the last twenty years. Anyway, I digress. I picked a male Sheppard because I wanted to play a male character. I called him Bozzley, and if the face maker thing wasn’t so determined to make anything other than the default face look like vomit with teeth, I’d have probably attempted to make it look like me. As it happens, I went with the default, but that wasn’t my initial choice.

See, given the choice, I wanted to put “me” in the game. When a character I liked was in trouble, I wanted to help them. When a character in the game got on my nerves, I wanted to tell them to fuck off (and in the game, too). I wanted to be able to identify as easily and as naturally as possible with the protagonist so that it felt as personal as it could be. Personal to me, and only me (and the bajillions of other people who have played it, but you know what I mean).

I’ve currently finished Mass Effect twice – once as nice guy Bozzley (cos deep down, I’m actually a nice person, and my first playthrough ended up with me picking only the good guy choices), and once as evil bastard Evil Bozz (who looks like vomit with teeth). I’ve also finished the sequel once, using the carried-over Bozzley. One day I’ll do it all again as Evil Bozz when I can muster up the strength to get through it without crying over what the game could and maybe should have been. Anyway, my point after all this is, I’m not fucking doing all that again as a female Sheppard just to hear Cortana chatting up an alien.

This is my choice, and it works for me. Wrong? Different. Fuck off.


    I agree. No, really :). I made a female character because I’m female and prefer playing a female character whenever possible. I attempted to make her pretty but couldn’t. The default looks weird. My amended character looks weird. How are their fansites on this character based on looks? Clearly pasty virginal types who’ve not been outside for so long they’ve forgotten what actual women look like. Poor lambs.

  • Sorry, I am still in shock that you agree with me. Mental! 😀

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