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Mass Effect 2 ignores the female Shepard

       Mass Effect is a role-playing space opera video game where players create their own version of a character called Commander Shepard. Players can choose from a variety of options ranging from looks, combat skills, armor, weapons, and finally gender.
    As new videos, announcements of enhanced gameplay, screenshots of the default male Shepard appearing with the new beautiful graphics, and even interviews with voice actors and developers appeared on the website, I noticed something missing. There was one detail that always seemed to be overlooked with the increase in content about the new sequel there was no mention, picture, or even an interview with the voice actress, of female Shepard. 
     I understand the marketing aspect of using a singular male Shepard with a specific look. I really do. Most of the gaming community is male, and I understand using him in the commercials and game covers gives the games a recognizable image.
     What I didn’t understand was why Bioware did not have any content, nor any mention in interviews, of the female Shepard.  It was like they were pretending female Shepard didn’t exist.
   Fans of the first game knew the character does exist since they had played the first installment.  And while the majority of people who played Mass Effect probably played male Shepard for the most part,with one casual glance at Bioware’s official forums and you knew that fans of female Shepard were a significant minority.
    Not all fans of female Shepard were necessarily girls either. I lot of people tended to play female Shepard because they preferred the voice. Even in the reviews so far for Mass Effect 2 a good few have pointed out Hale’s voice acting as some of the best in the game, including those in IGN (UK), and Newsarama.
      It wasn’t until an interview with Hale by Destructoid Community popped up on YouTube on Jan. 19 that any solid information about female Shepard in the sequel was given. Hale even commented on the lack of information in the interview.
    “Well as is still the case a lot, you know, sometimes the female leaders get overlooked; fortunately that’s changing, and I put a plea out there to everybody listening please, let Bioware and everybody else know that like it…that you want to see more of female Shepard as well,” Hale said.
    On a Direct2Drive Q&A, Houston replied with the marketing explanation that “iconic Shepard” was the main one they envisioned and focused their marketing toward. What I found most interesting was the last part of his answer.
    “It’s not quite as cut and dry as that, we actually have shown a fair bit with FemShep, as our forums like to call, but it’s definitely not nearly as prominent.”
     The next day. on Jan. 23, Bioware finally posted some official screen captures of female Shepard on the official Mass Effect 2 website. three days before the release. It only took Bioware about 11 months since the launch of the first teaser trailer in Feb. 2009, but it was something.
    I think it was a combined effort of fans of female Shepard, since Hale’s interview really helped to get a least a look at the female counterpart of the game’s lead character.
   I suppose it really does only come down to what face on the cover will sell more games. I just wish Bioware had taken more pride in showing off how much of pioneers they really are in the game industry as a whole, not just for a good story and gameplay, but for having real diversity that fits more of a wide range of people than what the marketing aims for.

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One comment

  1. The female Shepard is not in any promotional material, but she is occasionally shown in the behind-the-scenes material on the collector’s edition bonus DVD, with some comments by the voice actress (while the male’s voice actor is absent).

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