Sunday, July 24, 2011

You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard/but you'll never be better than Commander Shepard

Goddamn you, Comic-Con. I get myself all psyched up for some crazy awesome announcement re: the Mass Effect movie (and I am SO EXCITED - I am not one of those fans who is terrified they'll mess it up, because even if they do it still means MORE MASS EFFECT.) And they give us this. Sigh. Maybe next year?
But more exciting things re: Mass Effect 3! They are letting the fans vote on which version of Femshep gets in the marketing materials/on the Collector's Edition box (which I have already preordered the shit right out of, of course.) Six Femsheps, all of 'em grim, sultry and movie-hot. Which, I'll admit, I am a tad disappoint, because I kind of like default game Femshep with her ordinary-looking face and awkward haircut - do you think the galaxy's most kickass space marine is going to waste time on hair and makeup? Hell no! She's got people to kill and places to blow up! But, I guess, you gotta glam it up for the box art. At least she's in full armor.

The trouble with letting fans vote on things, though, is that a lot of fans are morons and what they want isn't good for the franchise. See the "straight guys don't even want the possibility of gay romance in their games" thread over at the Bioware forums re: Dragon Age 2. The proper response is the smackdown the lead writer immediately laid, one of the few times I've seen someone in gaming ever even own up to the concept of privilege, much less having it. Magnificent. This is why I buy everything they make and the T-shirts too. And while the way they're doing it isn't my favorite, I'm glad they at least have decided to give Femshep a marketing presence, because the trouble with Bioware's marketing has always been that the game as portrayed on the box is significantly worse than the game that's actually IN the box. Generic white dude space marine/sexy chick/weird alien, pose as a team. Do you want to play that? I don't want to play that. It's probably a standard military sci-fi FPS with a grim greyish color scheme, weak writing, boring aliens and a story mode that's been half-assed in favor of multiplayer. If I hadn't stumbled into Mass Effect via fellow Dragon Age fans gushing over it I would never have found out how awesome it was.

Ahem. My point! My point is that catering to the majority fanbase can go wrong. Like right now it is going wrong, because the top-rated Shepard is the blonde one. Really, really blonde. Samus Aran blonde. And even as someone who is significantly blonde, and who made my Dragon Age character look just like me for kicks and it was a ton of fun - for God's sake, does every woman in every freakin' medium have to be blonde ALL THE TIME? Even in the future? Is the tyranny of hair dye (because blonde is not that common a hair color IRL - if you want to know how many natural blonde women there are, count the blond men. Surprising!) going to continue for another few hundred years? Is the epitome of beauty still going to be "as white as you can possibly get without being an albino"? Is that the future you want to spend upwards of 40 hours of gametime, perhaps several times over, wallowing in? Not me. I would rather hang out in a future where Shepard is not white (see proposed Femshep #4, my personal favorite) and nobody gives a damn. See Lesley Kinzel's most awesome argument re: this. Or at least is a short-haired redhead like my own personal Femshep (coincidentally illustrated by Bill Mudron in this nifty poster I need to buy.) Not the same damn hot-blonde-chick stereotype we see everywhere else all the goddamned time. Have some imagination, people!

I'm buying the Collector's Edition no matter which Femshep is on it, of course. And I know it's going to be Dudeshep in the movie, alas, because to get Femshep right they'd have to cast Jennifer Hale and I don't think she does live-action work. If it absolutely HAS to be Dudeshep I am rooting for Matthew Fox. ("Tali! We have to go back!") Not only has he already played a guy named Sheppard but he's got the correct sort of bland-yet-tough earnestness you want from a Paragon Shep, and we already know he can rock a buzz cut.

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