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eschergirls:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-21-ms-effect-the-rise-of-femshep

That’s a great article about “Femshep” and how Bioware accidentally created a great female character by not trying to create a female character (i.e. a character that they were specifically thinking…

I have mixed feelings about this kind of thing. I mean, it’s completely true both in the case of Mass Effect and in general that a lot of writers struggle to find a voice for female characters that isn’t tied up in objectification or othering tropes. I absolutely think that Shepard’s exceptional strength of character is born coincidentally from the combination of developmental neglect and Jennifer Hale’s extraordinary voice work. It’s a happy accident and I don’t really think accidents like this should be celebrated, although I would like other game developers to take notes. Which is basically what the article says - BioWare delivered us one of the greatest sci-fi/action heroines of our time, but you can’t really give them full credit for it. This is an interesting situation.

But man, reading this made me realize how much Shepard actually means to me as a female gamer. Like, I usually look at stories from the writer’s chair so while I am obviously capable of getting intensely emotionally invested, I have a hard time “relating” to characters or placing myself viscerally within the narrative in the way a lot of my fandom buddies seem able to. I said a while back that Mass Effect is really insidious in that department - it breaks down the player/game intimacy barrier more efficiently than anything I’ve played in a looong while. Or rather, at the very least, it does for me.

I don’t exactly  relate to Shepard (my Shepard looks nothing like me, doesn’t share my particular skills and is not always played to my moral compass), but it has been a weird revelation to discover that things I would normally find trite or eye-roll inducing in a male character pump me the fuck up when coming out of a woman’s mouth. When Shepard spouts off these cheesy-ass action movie one liners, when she strides into a room and demands everyone do things her way or the highway, when the entire galaxy places an unrealistic amount of trust in her paternalistic guidance I just find myself nodding along saying: “Yes. Fuck yes.” It makes me feel awesome. I have always considered myself the kind of person who relates equally to male and female characters, but Shepard is the first time where I’ve honestly gone “Oh, I get it. This is what boys get in basically every game they play.”

Many women have subconsciously convinced themselves that they don’t want or deserve this experience. Some of us have actively convinced ourselves that indulging in the same kind of exceptionalist ubermenschian power fantasies that men do is ultimately harmful or reductive considering the inherently conservative subtext carried (often unintentionally) in such narratives. I often - hypocritically, considering my love of the genre - agree with the latter.

But

I just don’t know.

Because it felt pretty good man.

It felt pretty good.

I’m reblogging this because this is a major part of the appeal of Femshep, that we get to play a game where our female heroic avatar gets to be just as corny, just as heroic, just as heroically stoic and annoying and whatever as a male hero. 

I don’t exactly  relate to Shepard (my Shepard looks nothing like me, doesn’t share my particular skills and is not always played to my moral compass), but it has been a weird revelation to discover that things I would normally find trite or eye-roll inducing in a male character pump me the fuck up when coming out of a woman’s mouth. When Shepard spouts off these cheesy-ass action movie one liners, when she strides into a room and demands everyone do things her way or the highway, when the entire galaxy places an unrealistic amount of trust in her paternalistic guidance I just find myself nodding along saying: “Yes. Fuck yes.” It makes me feel awesome. I have always considered myself the kind of person who relates equally to male and female characters, but Shepard is the first time where I’ve honestly gone “Oh, I get it. This is what boys get in basically every game they play.”

This part especially is “YES SO THIS”.  And I hope it’s also revealing to male gamers just how for granted they take this experience.

I was actually thinking about this after I posted the article and how many people were praising the brilliance of Jennifer Hale’s voice acting that made Femshep seem more like the real Shep than Malshep.  And, I realized that Hale was also the voice actress in Jedi Academy for female Jaden Korr, and that her voice acting made it seem like Jaden was just WRITTEN for her, and I couldn’t believe for a second that male Jaden had the same lines and everything until I made a male character.  She really sells it, and it shocked the kitties out of me when I found out online that Jaden is canonically male (and human and white).  (As if Star Wars needs more white male human heroes.)

But also, like Cephiedvariable, I really enjoyed the experience of playing a female character that didn’t feel like a “female character” as video games have taught me how female characters are.  There weren’t gratuitous camera angles, and the dialogue she was given, the character arc, etc… I never once felt “ugh *SIGH*” like I tend to do at certain things when playing a female character, she was just a heroic awesome Jedi. :)

Femshep the awesome accident. ;)