Kirk: I was talking with Luke about this the other day, this commercial idea similar to one I floated a while ago: Wouldn't it be cool if they did an ad series called "This is my Commander Shepard?" Show people saying that, and flash through different shepards doing different things. It'd be a good way to highlight the series' coolest feature and it wouldn't be confusing to newcomers.


This ad, where they flashed through all the different hair-colors, kind of hinted at a similar thing.

Evan: Yeah, this kinda gets a problem with the marketing messaging—Mass Effect gets sold as a single-use experience, with BroShep as default.


Kirk: When really, one of the best parts is replaying and doing things differently!

Evan: Yeah. When they could be telling people to play it multiple times with each gender.


Kate: They actually do in one of the ME2 loading screen tips!

Kirk: Ha, that's right!

Kate: "Play again with a different class or gender for a different experience."

Evan: It's not just one story.

Kate: I wish that came across more outside of the game.

Kirk: The question people raised when I floated that idea is: Does that sell? Or is it a better call just to make the game look like a rad space action game? I've mentioned this before, the idea that the things we love about Mass Effect aren't particularly sexy.


So what are we asking for, really? Are we just coming up with ways to help EA sell the game? Or was seeing that ad more about seeing a hint of the version of Mass Effect that we wish people we knew could see?

Kate: One of the game's biggest points has always been that players can make decisions in character, in tone (to a point, with paragon, renegade, and neutral options) and often in outcome. I feel like that's what sets an awesome game apart from, say, an awesome movie. But I don't actually know if that's what makes it sell.


Evan: We're talking about the FemShep trailer as a piece of marketing.

Kirk: But it's more than that, right?

There is a cool feeling of fan-ownership around all things Shepard, particularly when it comes to FemShep.


Evan: Yeah, it'll be interesting to see if this gets airtime outside of game-centric outlets. My mind would be blown if the FemShep ad aired during, say, the Grammys or the NBA Finals.

Kirk: It would be cool just to have so many people see that side of the game.

Evan: Exactly.

Kate: It's also a case of a developer very clearly responding to fan feedback. The entire thing was triggered last May or June when players clamored for it, basically.


Kirk: There is a cool feeling of fan-ownership around all things Shepard, particularly when it comes to FemShep. They do this great series over at The Border House called " My Commander Shepard" that's kind of a celebration of that.

I remember someone making the point that because we've each spent two games with our own personal LadyShep with no one telling us she wasn't "Official," players who play a lady have a more personal connection to the character. Because she's "ours." Even if we're just using one of the default builds! I feel that way, anyway.


Kate: She's still kind of a rare character, too. That real Sigourney-Weaver-in-Alien(s) compassionate asskicker. So it's easy to form an attachment there, especially as you get to customize things along the way.

Kirk: And seeing a trailer that really does feel like it was made for the fans, and it makes me feel good types of hope about the game in general. There are still weird decisions, like the whole Chobot casting-decision...


But you know that there were people at BioWare really pushing to make this trailer, to dedicate the time and money to it, and that's cool. The ad doesn't feel like the result of a boardroom meeting, even though it doubtless was, to some extent. I'm still partly worried and simultaneously hopeful about the game, but I'm happy to see that they're listening to the fans.


Kate: I'm just glad to see it, and it's rekindled my (admittedly never very dim) interest in the game. I haven't loved every element of it or everything that led up to it, but the fans asked and BioWare/EA really did deliver.

And I think it's great to see the hints, in advertising, that Shepard's story may be mostly handed out to you but that how you the player choose to handle it has a lot of room for personal ownership.


Kirk: There are so many variables coming in to the third game based on past choices that some amount of streamlining is going to be inevitable. But every time I see a trailer or video from the game that leaves me a little cold or worried, I just imagine my own Commander Shepard in the scene, and I like it a good deal more. This trailer felt like BioWare and EA showing me that on their own for the first time.

Evan: While this is all well and good, I still want two things moving forward:

1. Hype around games starring female protagonists that hits this kind of beat more regularly.


2. For Jennifer Hale—who, again, I've barely experienced—to have a Nolan North or Troy Baker kind of career.

Kate: Yes and yes.

Kirk: It's that funny thing—voice actors seem to be coming to the forefront more and more, and if we're going to see a lot more of anyone, it's going to be Hale. But their job requires them to blend in, to an extent, even though hardcore fans still know and love the great ones.


On a related note, as I see more and more games that center around customization, I hope we get to see the public face of those games embrace that, and in doing so, embrace the diversity of the potential protagonists and heck, the diversity of the people who play the games!

In the meantime: It was fun to see FemShep lock in a round and blow that Reaper away.


Kate: I look forward to doing the same in March.

Evan: And, maybe, maybe I'll get around to playing through ME2 and/or ME3 as a female Commander Shepard. I contain multitudes, after all.


But that's just us. What is your Commander Shepard like? Do you have multiple Shepards, and if so, which one will you be playing in ME3 first? Do you ever wish you could play the game as Tali, or Garrus, or another non-Shepard character? Let us know.