Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mass Effect 3's Poster Shepard

BioWare has taken their decision-making public for the next Mass Effect 3 trailer. Fans had been clamoring, even petitioning for a female Shepard to appear in official material of some form, and so BioWare gave us that. The appearance of the character would be determined by what we at first thought would be a single poll on facebook, which actually turned out to be two: a first round and a second, “finalist” round, which actually featured some designs not appearing in the first round. The winner was the Shepard with shaggy red hair, and this has been causing a slew of opinions around the internet. Not like certain parts of the internet have the monopoly on opinions or anything, but centering the poll around facebook has made those opinions very visible to anyone who chooses to vote.

This red-haired, green-eyed Shepard has been confirmed to appear in the trailer. She has brought out a slew of people who seem determined to say one of two things: either that because she’s red-headed she’s a "ginger ", or that because she’s red-headed she’s sexy. 
I have tried to say out of the trailer!Shepard discussion as much as possible. I have tried to keep one big thing in mind: Just because this character model is in the trailer does not mean that she is the one we have to play in the game. I’ve never played Vanderloo Shep. Nor have I been turned away by his appearance in the trailers. The Shepard in the trailers is not canon, she is not “real”, she is not taking anything away from the game you want to play. Her appearance in the trailer serves as a placeholder for whatever customized Shepard character you want to imagine there, just like Vanderloo Shep did. 
It is absolutely silly and incorrect to start lobbing stereotypes at a video game character because of their hair color. 
I also, though, have to get some things out of the way.
I voted for the blonde in both cases. Why? Because she looks like my Shepard. Because she looks like me.
A quiet, but very energetic part of me wants to criticize male gamers for voting for  the stereotypical “hot, fiery” redhead. But would I have voted for the one I thought was most attractive if it had been a poll to choose an alternate male Shepard? Yes. So that’s an incorrect argument too.
Do I think that there are far too many red-headed females cast as the butt-kicking character? Yes. Do I think that the Mass Effect universe is strangely bereft of blondes? Yes.
So my Shepard is going to be a blonde, just like she has been for the past two years or so.
And my male Shepard is going to be as close as my impatient fiddling with the customization menu could get to a man I’m attracted to.
So the point I’m trying to get to is...let’s not judge trailer!fShep because of her hair color, or at least not in frakking public. I’m all for getting into the minutia of what a character’s appearance says about them, and I’m also all for complaining about red-headed tough girls. However, this really isn’t the place. All the new femShep design says is that the majority of the fans voted for her. If you, like me, aren’t one of the ones that did vote for her...well, instead, play Mass Effect the way you want to play it, with your own characters. 

1 comment:

  1. Nem, I find this hilariously ironic that she's a redhead. Out of all of the other hair colors that they could have picked for a strong female.