Let me preface this piece by saying I love BioWare, they are one of my favorite developers and I support them by buying their games and even their merchandise, I have done so for many years. I’m however upset with the FemShep debacle. Firstly it being touted as a ‘beauty contest’ (by some) demeans what the female Commander Shepard (FemShep) is all about, it belittles her as nothing but an object of beauty, a woman to be judged on her appearance rather than action and that angers me. Somehow this “vote for your preferred FemShep” thing went from “cool they’re finally using FemShep on some marketing” to “oh shit FemShep was voted on and now she’s a young blond bimbo”. I don’t understand why BioWare put it to the vote. I don’t understand why BioWare didn’t take control and make a decision to make the marketing material feature the base model FemShep, with her bobbed hair and non-pouting lips.
Turning FemShep into this young looking blond Samus Aran type just irks and it irks a lot. This isn’t a ‘lesbian thing’, though I’m sure there will be those closed minded fools who assume as a lesbian of course I would prefer the short-haired ‘more-masculine’ female Commander Shepard. To them I say, give me a break, I just prefer the female Shepard who looks like you’d listen to her if the galaxy were in peril and frankly if some jumped up 18 year old blond pouting kid needed me on the front lines, I’d be questioning things big time.
The standard female Shepard looks like she can tote a gun, she looks like she’s a leader and most importantly she looks severe and old enough to have lived through battle. The new FemShep we’re now stuck with for marketing and merchandise just doesn’t cut it. I was so excited to purchase a “Mass Effect” game with female Shepard I’ve ranted it to all my gamer friends, now I’ll be buying the male version because frankly I just can’t take blonde kiddy Shepard seriously.
I realize the result of this ‘beauty contest’ was never going to please everyone, after all, we all have our own FemShep versions and the chance of seeing your exact version on packaging or as an action-figure was never going to happen, but come on BioWare, Seriously?!!! Shepard number 5 is bland, bland, bland, bland and worse than bland, she panders to an audience that don’t and possibly never will ‘get’ what FemShep is all about. Thanks for that Bioware, thanks for placing the decision of iconic female leader in the realm of what statistics suggest is the mostly male voting audience, rather than clasping your testicles and saying fuck it let’s make her the Shep most people know from the game. To those male gamers who did vote for a different FemShep (and judging from the comments I’ve read and received since the announcement), thank you, clearly all our votes just didn’t amount to enough. Sadly the “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” thing is already doing the rounds on the various male run gaming sites, along with ‘Miss Universe’, ‘Pageant Queen’ and other demeaning headlines. It just makes me want to shed a tear because it feels like gaming has once more taken one step forward, two steps back.
Oh and for the record, none of the choices were all that great.