More Ill Judged Ranting about Mass Effect

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Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

I've written a blog post complaining about Mass Effect and all of a sudden I feel deeply ashamed. I had to say it though. I just had to.

I took a lot of inspiration for this from Go Make Me A Sandwich and excellent but sadly defunct blog on sexism in Gaming. The stuff related to Mass Effect and Bioware is here but it is all worth a read, even if you don't agree with it all. I didn't but it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff.

People are worried about Mass Effect 3. This is a fact. The recent reveal that Jessica Chobot has a small part in the third game seems to have crystallised a lot of this angst and also provoked a lot of amazement at the response to her reveal. I just wanted to take this blog to explain what Mass Effect means to me and why it’s not so much Jessica Chobot but what she represents which is the problem

Mass Effect 1 felt to me like a game for grown-ups of both sexes. The story and the character design were unlike anything I had experienced in previous games. – bear in mind that I only really started serious gaming again with this generation so if you have examples of this from PS1, PS2 era etc I would be interested to hear them.

Mass Effects two main strengths are its story and characters. There are a plethora of well rounded male characters of various backgrounds and motivations across gaming. The minority of female protagonist will usually be poorly written and over-sexualised. The average video game producer seems to think games are for boys and boys like tits so no matter where in the universe she happens to be a female gaming character will normally be dressed for the pole rather than the battlefield. One factor that made Mass Effect so wonderful to play a game was that it took for granted that it could hold your attention with its story and cast and not by titillation. All the female roles were well rounded, fully clothed and tough as hell. Although Ashley got on my nerves a bit she was a tough soldier, Liara was a scientist and powerful Biotic, and Tali (my fave) was an excellent technician and like the others all shared motivations independent from pleasing your Sheppard. The complexity and genuineness of personalities sharing the Normandy with you was one of Mass Effect’s biggest strengths.

Just as thrilling was the plot. I have raved about this in forums before, but the moment you find the Promethean research base on Illos and get the full story of Reapers from Vigil is my favourite moment in gaming. The utter bleakness of the Promethean’s fate - having their life support systems shut down until only a handful are left is truly horrible. Vigil’s story of the dreadful inevitability of the Reapers posits them as almost a Godlike presence in the universe, an elemental force capable of the complete destruction of life, clearing the universe ready for re-birth. Are the Reapers like farmers, leaving the fields fallow for a new crop to grow, or are they an interventionist God, clearing the universe and starting again with a new big bang, experimenting with different forms of life each time round? Videogames don’t normally ask these sorts of questions, or at least so overtly. The Reapers inspire a huge sense of dread – how can humans possibly overturn what seems to be an inevitable and unstoppable part of how the universe works?

Perhaps this brilliant story was the start of the problem for Bioware. How do you continue a story like this in a medium which demands a successful ending without undermining the dreadful force and inevitable end you have summoned? I would like to see the current galaxy end in a similar fashion to the way the Prothean’s with Sheppard and his crew finding that the Reapers are far too deep and awesome a power to be defeated. It would be interesting to portray them as an inevitable rather than evil force and one the universe needs to be re-born and continue, much like humans must die for others to continue living.

But that’s just me – I can understand why Bioware don’t want to send gamers down this path in a multi-million selling series but I think it is the only way they can maintain the integrity of the story. Bioware seem to have realised this as well and in ME2 you could sense that they were trying to destroy the mystique and threat of the Reapers to make them a more defeatable foe for Sheppard and co in 3. The way the Reapers were introduced in ME1 did not seem to leave much room for them to be defeated and because of this Mass Effect 2 attempted to diminish their power to leave scope for victory. How else to explain the fact the Normandy takes out a Reaper ship with ease when in the first game one ship lays waste the Citadel and countless allied craft? The comparison between Sovereign in ME1 and the ridiculous Humanoid machine you take down at the end of 2 says a lot about how the menace of the Reapers has deteriorated.

COMPARE
AND
CONTRAST

However what most worries me is how Bioware’s character design has deteriorated from 1 to 2. I have already mentioned how great ME1’s female characters are, and the way they don’t pander to adolescent sexual fantasies. In contrast Mass Effect 2 introduces Miranda, Jack and Samara, who are woeful compared to Tali, Ashley and Liara.

Miranda’s ass is already an internet meme and however they spin her character’s backstory and try and justify her sex appeal by genetic design her skin-tight costume and relentless ass run opposed to the grown-up portrayal of women in the first game. Jack is another character seemingly designed with teenage boys in mind. The first Mass Effect gave us tough, believable characters so it’s hard to understand why Bioware would have a prominent NPC wear only a leather strap on her top half. How does it stay on? She is a cool character but dressing her like this just makes me think they are trying to give teenagers erections and it kills my belief in the game. Samara is written interestingly but whose idea was it to have her massive blue tits centre screen all game. Why would she buy a suit which doesn’t zip up? Did she put on weight somewhere out in galaxy where there aren’t any shops? Is it a device to distract people before she kills them? And doesn’t she get cold on those drafty space stations? In some games (Bayonetta for example) I can put up with this stuff, but Mass Effect is supposed to make sense, to be a believable universe. Why have a giant codex and lore if your characters are going to dress like bad anime girls?

I know these things are not important to some people who just like to play games to have fun and don’t like to think deeper about them. However for those of us who want to be treated as grown-ups, or god forbid people who want to play and see non-sexualised female characters in games the first Mass Effect is held in high regard. It is a pleasure to not have to block out obvious gamer-bait or stupid sexism and signs that Bioware are forgetting this make people worried about how the series is progressing.

This is why the reveal of Jessica Chobot provoked such a reaction – not because people are averse to her being in the game but because of what she represents. That a game that set out with such integrity is descending to stunt casting and cheap titillation is very sad. Maybe it is all just marketing, maybe Bioware know they have the original fans in the bag so they are using the hype just to attract new sales, but if so they need to throw us a bone because it looks as if they are forgetting what made the first game so special. I don’t hate Chobot and if she is a good actress and adds something to the game then great, however it’s hard to believe this is why Bioware have signed her and her really creepy likeness to Mass Effect 3. People are reacting to her not because of her, but of what she represents, which is Bioware losing sight of what made this series so great. Great grown-up characters, great lore and great story – I really hope there is space left between the multiplayer, space-tits and stunt casting for some of what has made Mass Effect such a perfect experience.

#1 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

I've written a blog post complaining about Mass Effect and all of a sudden I feel deeply ashamed. I had to say it though. I just had to.

I took a lot of inspiration for this from Go Make Me A Sandwich and excellent but sadly defunct blog on sexism in Gaming. The stuff related to Mass Effect and Bioware is here but it is all worth a read, even if you don't agree with it all. I didn't but it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff.

People are worried about Mass Effect 3. This is a fact. The recent reveal that Jessica Chobot has a small part in the third game seems to have crystallised a lot of this angst and also provoked a lot of amazement at the response to her reveal. I just wanted to take this blog to explain what Mass Effect means to me and why it’s not so much Jessica Chobot but what she represents which is the problem

Mass Effect 1 felt to me like a game for grown-ups of both sexes. The story and the character design were unlike anything I had experienced in previous games. – bear in mind that I only really started serious gaming again with this generation so if you have examples of this from PS1, PS2 era etc I would be interested to hear them.

Mass Effects two main strengths are its story and characters. There are a plethora of well rounded male characters of various backgrounds and motivations across gaming. The minority of female protagonist will usually be poorly written and over-sexualised. The average video game producer seems to think games are for boys and boys like tits so no matter where in the universe she happens to be a female gaming character will normally be dressed for the pole rather than the battlefield. One factor that made Mass Effect so wonderful to play a game was that it took for granted that it could hold your attention with its story and cast and not by titillation. All the female roles were well rounded, fully clothed and tough as hell. Although Ashley got on my nerves a bit she was a tough soldier, Liara was a scientist and powerful Biotic, and Tali (my fave) was an excellent technician and like the others all shared motivations independent from pleasing your Sheppard. The complexity and genuineness of personalities sharing the Normandy with you was one of Mass Effect’s biggest strengths.

Just as thrilling was the plot. I have raved about this in forums before, but the moment you find the Promethean research base on Illos and get the full story of Reapers from Vigil is my favourite moment in gaming. The utter bleakness of the Promethean’s fate - having their life support systems shut down until only a handful are left is truly horrible. Vigil’s story of the dreadful inevitability of the Reapers posits them as almost a Godlike presence in the universe, an elemental force capable of the complete destruction of life, clearing the universe ready for re-birth. Are the Reapers like farmers, leaving the fields fallow for a new crop to grow, or are they an interventionist God, clearing the universe and starting again with a new big bang, experimenting with different forms of life each time round? Videogames don’t normally ask these sorts of questions, or at least so overtly. The Reapers inspire a huge sense of dread – how can humans possibly overturn what seems to be an inevitable and unstoppable part of how the universe works?

Perhaps this brilliant story was the start of the problem for Bioware. How do you continue a story like this in a medium which demands a successful ending without undermining the dreadful force and inevitable end you have summoned? I would like to see the current galaxy end in a similar fashion to the way the Prothean’s with Sheppard and his crew finding that the Reapers are far too deep and awesome a power to be defeated. It would be interesting to portray them as an inevitable rather than evil force and one the universe needs to be re-born and continue, much like humans must die for others to continue living.

But that’s just me – I can understand why Bioware don’t want to send gamers down this path in a multi-million selling series but I think it is the only way they can maintain the integrity of the story. Bioware seem to have realised this as well and in ME2 you could sense that they were trying to destroy the mystique and threat of the Reapers to make them a more defeatable foe for Sheppard and co in 3. The way the Reapers were introduced in ME1 did not seem to leave much room for them to be defeated and because of this Mass Effect 2 attempted to diminish their power to leave scope for victory. How else to explain the fact the Normandy takes out a Reaper ship with ease when in the first game one ship lays waste the Citadel and countless allied craft? The comparison between Sovereign in ME1 and the ridiculous Humanoid machine you take down at the end of 2 says a lot about how the menace of the Reapers has deteriorated.

COMPARE
AND
CONTRAST

However what most worries me is how Bioware’s character design has deteriorated from 1 to 2. I have already mentioned how great ME1’s female characters are, and the way they don’t pander to adolescent sexual fantasies. In contrast Mass Effect 2 introduces Miranda, Jack and Samara, who are woeful compared to Tali, Ashley and Liara.

Miranda’s ass is already an internet meme and however they spin her character’s backstory and try and justify her sex appeal by genetic design her skin-tight costume and relentless ass run opposed to the grown-up portrayal of women in the first game. Jack is another character seemingly designed with teenage boys in mind. The first Mass Effect gave us tough, believable characters so it’s hard to understand why Bioware would have a prominent NPC wear only a leather strap on her top half. How does it stay on? She is a cool character but dressing her like this just makes me think they are trying to give teenagers erections and it kills my belief in the game. Samara is written interestingly but whose idea was it to have her massive blue tits centre screen all game. Why would she buy a suit which doesn’t zip up? Did she put on weight somewhere out in galaxy where there aren’t any shops? Is it a device to distract people before she kills them? And doesn’t she get cold on those drafty space stations? In some games (Bayonetta for example) I can put up with this stuff, but Mass Effect is supposed to make sense, to be a believable universe. Why have a giant codex and lore if your characters are going to dress like bad anime girls?

I know these things are not important to some people who just like to play games to have fun and don’t like to think deeper about them. However for those of us who want to be treated as grown-ups, or god forbid people who want to play and see non-sexualised female characters in games the first Mass Effect is held in high regard. It is a pleasure to not have to block out obvious gamer-bait or stupid sexism and signs that Bioware are forgetting this make people worried about how the series is progressing.

This is why the reveal of Jessica Chobot provoked such a reaction – not because people are averse to her being in the game but because of what she represents. That a game that set out with such integrity is descending to stunt casting and cheap titillation is very sad. Maybe it is all just marketing, maybe Bioware know they have the original fans in the bag so they are using the hype just to attract new sales, but if so they need to throw us a bone because it looks as if they are forgetting what made the first game so special. I don’t hate Chobot and if she is a good actress and adds something to the game then great, however it’s hard to believe this is why Bioware have signed her and her really creepy likeness to Mass Effect 3. People are reacting to her not because of her, but of what she represents, which is Bioware losing sight of what made this series so great. Great grown-up characters, great lore and great story – I really hope there is space left between the multiplayer, space-tits and stunt casting for some of what has made Mass Effect such a perfect experience.

#2 Edited by Teran (877 posts) -

I guess it's a good game when people have to make up issues to be angry or offended at. (not saying you are, but this is a pretty common complaint that ignores the realities of story design)

I agree that Miranda was over the top and was extremely relieved when they released an alternative costume for her but most of your claim is hollow. It sounds like you played ME1 with rose tinted glasses on and forgot to wear the same glasses when you played ME2.

You talk about how wonderful the female characters were in ME1 but seem to have forgotten that those characters also appear in ME2 and will appear in ME3 if they survived. Would you have preferred they introduced a couple clones of the female characters from the previous games or would you prefer to see them look at other options? I'm glad they went with other options because as much as I like Tali, Ashley, and Liara, it would have felt like a cop out if they hadn't bothered to introduce other personality types into the mix.

They were grown up characters. You may not see them as mature, but people like that do exist and considering how messed up most of them were it's no wonder they were perhaps immature and viewed people as set pieces to be used and destroyed (Jack), or viewed them as nothing more than obstructions to a greater cause (Samara), or people to be manipulated (Miranda). These new characters don't have a balanced view of life as the characters from the first did for good and valid reasons.

#3 Posted by Dtat (1623 posts) -

I agree that it's pretty gross. I hope that it does turn out to just be marketing hype to try and get dumb people who wouldn't normally go for a space epic to buy it. I doubt it will actually affect the overall tone of the game, but I could be wrong.

#4 Edited by Dylabaloo (1549 posts) -

@leebmx:

Please don't judge before you've played the game. Jessica Chobot is stunt casting, and from what I here she has a very minor role at that. If she was a crew member, hell yeah I could get behind your concerns but as a cameo I feel it's fine.

I AM OMEGA

As for the women characters, Mass Effect is absolutely wonderful at portraying strong women, hell your Shepard can be a woman! But you seem to be cherry picking certain people from Mass Effect 2, what about Aria T'Loak the ruthless leader of the criminal underground on Omega.

I am....boobies

Now lets take a look at a female antagonist from Mass Effect 1 you seem to forget. Mass Effect 2 was not exclusive to these "sexed" up female characters. And as with Jack and Miranda, Benezia beyond her ridiculous appearance was a great character. There will always be a degree of sex appeal influence but I feel Mass Effect at least backs them up with an interesting back story and personality, unlike other video games...I'm looking at you Croft.

Now as for all this fear about ME3, I have the up-most faith in Bioware, they have addressed fan issues such as deepening RPG mechanics and added some truly foreward thinking issues that other mediums are still hesitant to touch, gay relationships. I am confidant that I will be more than satisfied with Mass Effect 3. Now don't worry sit back and wait. But don't pass judgements until you've given it a fair try.

(On a side-note, in Mass Effect 1 you killed a goddamn Reaper, top class one, Sovereign; in Mass Effect 2 you didn't even kill the Harbinger all you killed was an in-development Reaper, so if anything Mass Effect 1 weakened the image of the Reapers.)

#5 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head, OP. Mass Effect started out as one of my favorite new IPs, but as ME2 came out and we've been given more and more damning details of ME3, I've grown to loathe it. After the Chobot reveal, I probably won't even buy ME3. It's pretty apparent that Bioware has gone out of their way to pander to the lowest common denominator (the creepy Tali-lovers and COD bros) in really jarring ways and the Chobot debacle pretty much sums it up. Firstly, there's no goddamned reason for her to be in the game; she's a little-known game journalist with a relatively specious track record, and secondly, there's no reason for her character model to look like that; if the pubescent boys haven't gotten enough T&A from Miranda and Samara, they're never going to be satisfied and it says something about Chobot that she's willing to let herself be depicted like that. It's really quite sad, since one of the things I liked most about ME1 was how strong of a protagonist Femshep was, especially with Jennifer Hale's awesome voice work. After seeing all this, I wouldn't be surprised if Bioware pulled a Femshep exclusive Metroid: Other M style side quest on her. Between this and The Old Republic, Bioware's got a pretty nasty record for misogyny lately.

Between that and the increasingly prominent Gears of War combat system, it's not hard to see that Bioware is diluting an interesting sci-fi drama franchise into Teenage Boy Space Marine Fantasy Wank Shooter #62024. The fact that they're even offering a combat only mode is patently absurd and shows exactly how far the series has changed from its roots.

#6 Posted by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

Liara is a prototypical ingenue and Ashley is just a butch soldier chick fantasy.  Tali's gender isn't even referenced in that game, all she is in that game is a codex for quarians.  You seem to like characters to be 'non-sexualized' but it sounds more like what you want is for them to not have genders at all, and that's far worse than the opposite.
 
It also seems you confuse actual art direction with sophmoric teen fantasy.  Ashley and Kaidan don't actually have any sort of design to them beyond their head.  They have the same build as any other human soldiers.  The same was true of every character in that game, the only thing different from character to character were their heads.  Garrus is the same as every turian except he has a visor for scopin' and droppin'.  At least in the sequel they gave everyone custom outfits.  Jacob didn't look like every Cerberus operative.  That you think they put Jack in a leather strap for sex appeal is kind of out there.  They put her in that strap to show off her tattoos... because that was a visual reference for Jack, and I don't know if you know a lot of people with full body tattoos but they usually find any excuse to show them off.  You think it's all male gaze but... I don't know, I'm not sure I would spend time lovingly rendering Jacob's abs for the teenage male market.  The character design in ME2 wasn't based on pandering, it's based on making everything look as cool as their artists can, instead of stuffy and hermetic like the original.  They didn't need to give Thane a cool coat (to go with his sexy rasp), they didn't need to put Miranda in a sexy catsuit, they didn't need to make Garrus' armor look fucked up and hardass, but they did and I prefer following the Rule of Cool to being stodgy and 'respectable'.  And anyways, Samara's getup wasn't any more ridiculous than Benezia.
 
Also, Jessica Chobot is stunt casting and cheap titillation?  But Yvonne Strahovski, a far more popular woman wasn't?  Hell, Joker is stunt casting.  The Illusive Man is stunt casting (cheap titillation, too!)

#7 Posted by RedRavN (397 posts) -

I agree with the OP. The overall tone of ME1 was much more adult in nature. ME2 is clearly a much more teenage oriented experience, complete with daddy issues and angstyness. Honestly, I stopped expecting great things from the ME series after I saw what they did to dragon age. I think its safe to assume that ME3 will be the most pandering yet, with more sexy and constant action. Basically, bioware has changed a lot since EA took over and that is a fact.

#8 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1404 posts) -

@leebmx

You're missing something here. The female characters in ME2 are just as well rounded and complex as the female characters in ME1. The only difference is the appearance of these characters, mainly their clothing. While I am not really a fan of the oversexualization of the female characters in ME2, I can give you a few possible in-canon reasons why the characters would dress as they do.

Miranda, being a top Cerberus operative, would want to use here sex appeal to her advantage. It's a long standing tradition in fiction for attractive female characters to use their looks and seduction skills to manipulate men. Though we do not necessarily see Miranda do this, it is logical to assume it's something she would do, and keeping men distracted whenever they're in her presence would always work to her advantage. She even states that her looks were designed to give her edge, and she is utilizing this edge to its fullest.

Jack just doesn't give a shit. It's well established in ME2 that sex is a very casual thing for her. She has been mostly alone for her whole life, with only very brief encounters with many individuals, usually resulting in both sex and death. Sex means nothing to her, and she probably views her attire as "no big deal". Though she puts forward a tough persona, she is obviously deeply scarred on an emotional level, having never had any sort of real relationship, romantic or otherwise, she is likely just trying to get noticed.

Samara is a Justicar; wherever she goes, she wants to be noticed. Justicars are not undercover operatives, quite the opposite. She states that she tries not to learn the specifics of the individuals that she is forced to kill due to the code. If she is on some planet hunting down a target, she wants everyone she encounters to notice her. If everyone knows that she is present, they will be on their best behavior; thus preventing her from having to deal lethal justice to individuals for relatively minor offenses. I admit this is the weakest of the three explanations, but I think it is plausible.

Now, don't take this as me defending the clothing designs in ME2, I am no more a fan than you are, but I do feel there are reasons why these characters would dress like they do. As for the assertion that the female characters in ME1 were better developed than those in ME2, I disagree. All the characters in ME2, including the female ones, were compelling and very well developed. You are looking at this discussion from a purely superficial point of view. There are many, many games that portray female characters in a much worse fashion, making this pretty much nitpicking.

#9 Posted by bybeach (4700 posts) -

I understand where the truth lies ever since I had the option of getting it on with Miranda on the diamond-plate floor of Engineering. Come on, I would take a lady to bed, mine or hers, but not a floor. Those 2 who work there, they just kind of stepped around?

I really liked Mass Effect 2, but with the hetro sex and the pressure for same sex the focus got lost on developing what these ppl. were besides sexual and a loyalty mission..seems like one was almost the price for the other. Sex is fine, but it got pretty silly. And I didn't need to watch Shepard and Miranda, it would have been good enough with them launching into each other in bed for good effect and leaving it there.

#10 Posted by Teran (877 posts) -

@ll_Exile_ll said:

You're missing something here. The female characters in ME2 are just as well rounded and complex as the female characters in ME1....

Miranda, being a top Cerberus operative, would want to use here sex appeal to her advantage. It's a long standing tradition in fiction for attractive female characters to use their looks and seduction skills to manipulate men.

I agree with you there. It seems a little ironic that people would complain about character depth because the new characters dress and act differently than the others. Miranda's poor fashion sense might not appear all that practical but there are numerous reasons for that mentioned in the game... heck, even the npcs occasionally notice her outfit. I remember Miranda's loyalty mission's final fight against an Asari commando... Miranda taunts her and tells her to take her best shot to which the commando replies with:

"I was just waiting for you to finish getting dressed... or does Cerberus really let you whore around in that outfit?"

#11 Posted by JoeyRavn (4945 posts) -

@ll_Exile_ll said:

Samara is a Justicar; wherever she goes, she wants to be noticed. Justicars are not undercover operatives, quite the opposite. She states that she tries not to learn the specifics of the individuals that she is forced to kill due to the code. If she is on some planet hunting down a target, she wants everyone she encounters to notice her. If everyone knows that she is present, they will be on their best behavior; thus preventing her from having to deal lethal justice to individuals for relatively minor offenses. I admit this is the weakest of the three explanations, but I think it is plausible.

That doesn't make any sense. Are you saying that the best option for someone who has such an important responsability is to dress like that? That there is absolutely no better way for her to make her presence known than a huge cleavage? Not even a very distinctive uniform or a shiny trinket everyone can see? I don't think anyone would take her seriously in that outfit. On the contrary, she'd become better known for her boobs than for her job. Samara's sexualized because Bioware wanted here to be sexualized, as simple as that. The more we justify these practices with "in-game canon", the worse they'll be.

#12 Posted by Veektarius (4538 posts) -

I agree with others that you're defining characters by what they wear. I personally felt that the female characters in 2 were a step up from 1, even while I didn't care for either of their starter uniforms. I'm not sure why you found Miranda's the more offensive, though, when Jack was the one w ho was practically naked. I was very happy to drop down money for costume DLC to fix that and Thane's eyes. So in conclusion - art design? Maybe not 100%. But T&A do not make it a game for kiddies, necessarily.

#13 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

You people don't seem to understand that in-universe justification for making almost every female character dress like a stripper doesn't really fly; real live human beings decided that they wanted them to dress like that and came up with ludicrous story justifications to make it happen. The characters didn't spring forth from the designers' heads fully formed; the developers consciously decided that their women needed to look like that and based their backstories around it. There's seriously no excuse for this sort of creepy, pandering bullshit in 2012.

#14 Edited by Napalm (9020 posts) -

The characters in Mass Effect 2 all look relatively unique and damn cool, in my opinion. Sure, there is some over-sexualization, with things such as Miranda's huge ass, or Samara's revealing cleavage. I think what people might be forgetting is that these characters aren't turned into sexual objects. They all have their own beliefs, reasons and moral codes, and they aren't simply "eye candy". 
 
@JoeyRavn said:

That doesn't make any sense. Are you saying that the best option for someone who has such an important responsability is to dress like that?

No, he didn't say that and that's not true. He did say that is was one way, out of very many ways for her to be noticed. Also, you misspelled "responsibility".
#15 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@Dylabaloo said:

@leebmx:

Please don't judge before you've played the game. Jessica Chobot is stunt casting, and from what I here she has a very minor role at that. If she was a crew member, hell yeah I could get behind your concerns but as a cameo I feel it's fine.

I AM OMEGA

As for the women characters, Mass Effect is absolutely wonderful at portraying strong women, hell your Shepard can be a woman! But you seem to be cherry picking certain people from Mass Effect 2, what about Aria T'Loak the ruthless leader of the criminal underground on Omega.

I am....boobies

Now lets take a look at a female antagonist from Mass Effect 1 you seem to forget. Mass Effect 2 was not exclusive to these "sexed" up female characters. And as with Jack and Miranda, Benezia beyond her ridiculous appearance was a great character. There will always be a degree of sex appeal influence but I feel Mass Effect at least backs them up with an interesting back story and personality, unlike other video games...I'm looking at you Croft.

Now as for all this fear about ME3, I have the up-most faith in Bioware, they have addressed fan issues such as deepening RPG mechanics and added some truly foreward thinking issues that other mediums are still hesitant to touch, gay relationships. I am confidant that I will be more than satisfied with Mass Effect 3. Now don't worry sit back and wait. But don't pass judgements until you've given it a fair try.

(On a side-note, in Mass Effect 1 you killed a goddamn Reaper, top class one, Sovereign; in Mass Effect 2 you didn't even kill the Harbinger all you killed was an in-development Reaper, so if anything Mass Effect 1 weakened the image of the Reapers.)

I agree with you that ME1 and the whole series isn't perfect at all and you make some good points about Aria T'Loak and Benzima. It just feels to me as if the balance really starts tip with the second installment. The point here isn't that Bioware do it badly but that they do it so well most of the time that it is a real disappointment when it seems that their standards are slipping. I would, and have never been this precious about a videogame series before and I have never normally been the sort of person to get angsty about a game which hasn't been released yet but ME1 was a fantastic experience for me and I really don't want what they had their to start slipping and I feel it is. ME1 was so great (not perfect but great) because I felt they had a story to tell and were trusting the player to be mature enough to want to explore their world without cheap hooks to drag them in.

I really, really hope ME3 is good and I am on board and trusting them but I can't get away from the fact that the Chobot reveal from any other developer would just scream "!!!!look we got sexy website girl in out game!!!!" I just I have to trust that this is just a marketing thing and not representative of the rest of the game - or that they have spotted something worthwhile about her performances. Anyway fingers crossed:)

#16 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@Teran: I agree there characters are interesting and are generally well developed but that doesn't excuse the way they are dressed. There is nothing in Samara's story that explains why her tits are on show at all times or why Jack is wearing a belt and the reasoning behind Miranda's endless ass show (her prefect genetic design) seems pretty weak to me. For me how the characters are portrayed visually is an important part of their development. Imagine if Nathan Drake spent the whole of Uncharted in leather chaps and no top. No matter how well his character was written you wouldn't be able to take him seriously - But that's just me. I understand that some people don't care about this sort of thing.

As I explained to other commenters - it is only because Bioware have shown that they can do it so well that I am getting exercised about this at all. They don't need to resort to cheap gamer bait to sell games so it worries me when I see that creep in.

#17 Posted by MideonNViscera (2257 posts) -

The ass thing was only for a split second of one scene. The rest of the time it just existed. Why would they give her a shitty ass when it's just as easy to give her a good one? haha Besides, Jack was nasty as shit, so it all evens out.

Oh and the others are aliens haha

#18 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

Liara is a prototypical ingenue and Ashley is just a butch soldier chick fantasy. Tali's gender isn't even referenced in that game, all she is in that game is a codex for quarians. You seem to like characters to be 'non-sexualized' but it sounds more like what you want is for them to not have genders at all, and that's far worse than the opposite. It also seems you confuse actual art direction with sophmoric teen fantasy. Ashley and Kaidan don't actually have any sort of design to them beyond their head. They have the same build as any other human soldiers. The same was true of every character in that game, the only thing different from character to character were their heads. Garrus is the same as every turian except he has a visor for scopin' and droppin'. At least in the sequel they gave everyone custom outfits. Jacob didn't look like every Cerberus operative. That you think they put Jack in a leather strap for sex appeal is kind of out there. They put her in that strap to show off her tattoos... because that was a visual reference for Jack, and I don't know if you know a lot of people with full body tattoos but they usually find any excuse to show them off. You think it's all male gaze but... I don't know, I'm not sure I would spend time lovingly rendering Jacob's abs for the teenage male market. The character design in ME2 wasn't based on pandering, it's based on making everything look as cool as their artists can, instead of stuffy and hermetic like the original. They didn't need to give Thane a cool coat (to go with his sexy rasp), they didn't need to put Miranda in a sexy catsuit, they didn't need to make Garrus' armor look fucked up and hardass, but they did and I prefer following the Rule of Cool to being stodgy and 'respectable'. And anyways, Samara's getup wasn't any more ridiculous than Benezia. Also, Jessica Chobot is stunt casting and cheap titillation? But Yvonne Strahovski, a far more popular woman wasn't? Hell, Joker is stunt casting. The Illusive Man is stunt casting (cheap titillation, too!)

I am not sure I agree with all your points.

Liara is a scientist who is prepared to take huge risks for her work and who goes on to be one of the most powerful people in the galaxy in the second game. That's pretty tough and not ingenue like at all in my definition of the word.

As for Ashley I am not sure what a butch soldier chick fantasy is tbh but its cool to see women in the roles that most male game protagonists occupy. She is certainly not a weak-willed sex object.

Tali is cool and independant, has to find a life away from her race and is totally capable.

I don't want people to have no sexuality or gender I just don't see why they should be defined by them which is what makes Bioware such a cool game company because for the most part they let female NPC's be part of the action without having to justify their prescence through having sex appeal.

I am not sure what you point is about art direction and it may be the same as mine. I do not think art direction should be sophmoric teen fantasy - actually the opposite which again is what is generally (or at least in ME1) so good about Bioware. You seem to think that character design below the head involves showing off flesh which shows how distorted people's ideas have become.

I agree to a certain extent that the character design and art is better in the second game on a technical level but conceptually why do they need so many women in revealing or skin-tight costumes. I am all for the 'Rule of Cool' but I do not see why this should be badass armour and capes etc for men and straps, plunging necklines and bondage wear for women. You should really go to that website I linked to. She does a cool feature where she swaps the costumes of male and female characters in games - it really shows up how ridiculously women are dressed in games.

Sorry for the blunt style of this post - trying to reply to everybody ;)

p.s. I don't see how casting renowned actors is stunt casting - who else are they supposed to get - The cleaners - do it themselves? The point about Chobot is that she is clearly there to be ogled - although as I have mentioned in some other post - maybe she's a shit hot actress and this is her breakout role - we will see.

#19 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@ll_Exile_ll: Thanks for reading the blog although I think I am going to have to respectfully disagree with your arguments.

As you say, at no point does Miranda use her sex appeal in anyway to further her causes nor is it hinted. As for Jack I think her whole character is just a cheap teenage goth fantasy but leaving that to one side her costume is just totally impractical. For starters how the fuck does it stay on? Does she glue it to her nipples each morning? it is ridiculous and what is even more crazy is that (if I remember rightly) she wears it out on missions!! I'm sorry but in a game where Shepard goes into a nightclub in full spaceman attire it seems to make no sense for a woman to wear a belt on her top half on a dangerous mission.

I think the best way for a justicar to be noticed would be to knock some heads rather than flash her tits. I can't believe you are even suggesting this.

The main point is that none of these costumes are in anyway practical for what they are doing and none of your party in the the first game felt the need to dress this way. In anycase why is it just the women who dress so revealingly - why not get grunt in a wife beater and cut-off shorts? Or get Garrus in leather chaps -why? because it would be stupid. - So why isn't it stupid for the women?

For me characterisation is about the backstory and actions but also the way they dress. As I mentioned in another post imagine if Nathan Drake just wore hotpants all the time - no matter how well he was written you wouldn't be able to take him seriously and you would feel that Naughty Dog were comprimising their game with cheap sex appeal.

Lastly I don't agree it is nitpicking in fact it is because Bioware are no way the worst offenders -- (in fact they are amongst the best) - that is why I get so precious about Mass Effect, because it gave me such a wonderful (not perfect though) experience in the first game that I want them to keep to those high standards. I'm not going to stress about the next Metal Gear's attitude to women cos I know by now it is a hopeless case I just love Mass Effect and I really hope they don't sell out with 3.

Sorry if this seems a bit rush just replying to everyone in short time.

#20 Posted by allworkandlowpay (874 posts) -

You know most cultures on Earth wear very little clothing and have no issues with cleavage or the human form. Asari's seem to also not care much, likely because of the fact that there is no differentiation between male and female Asari.

Stop grasping at straws, stop being a prude, enjoy the damn game.

#21 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@allworkandlowpay said:

You know most cultures on Earth wear very little clothing and have no issues with cleavage or the human form. Asari's seem to also not care much, likely because of the fact that there is no differentiation between male and female Asari.

Stop grasping at straws, stop being a prude, enjoy the damn game.

I love the game that's why I am concerned with where it is going and if you think my arguments are straw grasping or prudish I don't believe you have read the whole post or any of my replies.

I don't think cleavage or any other part of the body are bad or should be unseen. If Mass Effect was set amongst the tribes of the Amazon I would have no concern with nakedness. However its not, its in space where I imagine it can be quite drafty not to mention that going into combat in stripper wear is impractical.

You seem to have missed the entire point of my post which makes me wonder why I am replying but nevermind......

#22 Posted by allworkandlowpay (874 posts) -

@leebmx: Your point is poor. I've only read your first post, and it seems to be jumping to an illogical conclusion of "These characters are dressed somewhat scantily, therefore they are shallow and poor."

Seems prudish and childish to me.

#23 Edited by VoshiNova (1633 posts) -

I think what bums me out most about this topic (and topics like it) is that it makes it obvious that we are taking this game too seriously.

Without understanding (or even knowing) the specific decisions the game company has to make when designing these female characters, there is no room for speculation.

That may come off as rude, but seriously, there is no way that arguments/discussions like this will ever have any effect on your time earth in a meaningful way.

Perspective.

#24 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@allworkandlowpay said:

@leebmx: Your point is poor. I've only read your first post, and it seems to be jumping to an illogical conclusion of "These characters are dressed somewhat scantily, therefore they are shallow and poor."

Seems prudish and childish to me.

If you read it closely that is not what I say, however maybe I don't express myself very clearly.

I think the characters are generally well written. I'm not that keen on Jack, and Miranda isn't amazing but they are good compared to most videogame writing. However writing is not all that makes a character believable, there is also design and chosing to put a Matriach Asari Justicar in clothes which expose massive tits is silly and not something that character would believably wear. The only reason I can see for that is a cheap thrill which I can take in lesser games but not in one which has set itself such a high standard. For example I will happily play through Bayonetta and not complain because you are not asked to take her or the game seriously, Mass Effect asks you to believe in its universe.

Also have you ever asked why it is just the women who are dressed in this way? My complaint is that Mass Effect does not cheap thrills to make itself popular, for the most part the first game got by on story, gameplay and great believable cast and this is why I love Bioware so much - they treat me as an adult not a horny teenager - I am worried a game I love is changing what I love about it.

I hope this expresses what I mean in a more concise and easier to understand fashion. I really don't think i'm being prudish or childish at all - in fact i'm asking for Bioware to continue treating me as an adult.

#25 Posted by 9cupsoftea (652 posts) -

@VoshiNova said:

I think what bums me out most about this topic (and topics like it) is that it makes it obvious that we are taking this game too seriously.

Without understanding (or even knowing) the specific decisions the game company has to make when designing these female characters, there is no room for speculation.

That may come off as rude, but seriously, there is no way that arguments/discussions like this will ever have any effect on your time earth in a meaningful way.

Perspective.

That's a strange thing to say considering we're on a video games forum. I'd rather read articulated thoughts from people who perhaps care too much, than irreverent memes from people who don't want to be seen as if they do.

#26 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@VoshiNova said:

I think what bums me out most about this topic (and topics like it) is that it makes it obvious that we are taking this game too seriously.

Without understanding (or even knowing) the specific decisions the game company has to make when designing these female characters, there is no room for speculation.

That may come off as rude, but seriously, there is no way that arguments/discussions like this will ever have any effect on your time earth in a meaningful way.

Perspective.

I like taking certain things seriously - if you don't you don't need to take part in the discussion.

I don't have to have been there when the game was made to speculate as to why certain things are the way they are.

This is a Video Game site, it is unlikely anything anyone has ever posted here has ever had any meaningful effect on their lives. You can probably include most of the internet in that - if everything we did had to be meaningful life would be pretty boring and serious.

I'm not losing sleep about this issue yet, or protesting in the street so I think I have things just about in balance :)

I think what you are saying is that you don't care about this issue which again begs the question of why you are here. I suggest you let me prattle on in peace. ;)

#27 Posted by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@Brodehouse said:

Liara is a prototypical ingenue and Ashley is just a butch soldier chick fantasy. Tali's gender isn't even referenced in that game, all she is in that game is a codex for quarians. You seem to like characters to be 'non-sexualized' but it sounds more like what you want is for them to not have genders at all, and that's far worse than the opposite. It also seems you confuse actual art direction with sophmoric teen fantasy. Ashley and Kaidan don't actually have any sort of design to them beyond their head. They have the same build as any other human soldiers. The same was true of every character in that game, the only thing different from character to character were their heads. Garrus is the same as every turian except he has a visor for scopin' and droppin'. At least in the sequel they gave everyone custom outfits. Jacob didn't look like every Cerberus operative. That you think they put Jack in a leather strap for sex appeal is kind of out there. They put her in that strap to show off her tattoos... because that was a visual reference for Jack, and I don't know if you know a lot of people with full body tattoos but they usually find any excuse to show them off. You think it's all male gaze but... I don't know, I'm not sure I would spend time lovingly rendering Jacob's abs for the teenage male market. The character design in ME2 wasn't based on pandering, it's based on making everything look as cool as their artists can, instead of stuffy and hermetic like the original. They didn't need to give Thane a cool coat (to go with his sexy rasp), they didn't need to put Miranda in a sexy catsuit, they didn't need to make Garrus' armor look fucked up and hardass, but they did and I prefer following the Rule of Cool to being stodgy and 'respectable'. And anyways, Samara's getup wasn't any more ridiculous than Benezia. Also, Jessica Chobot is stunt casting and cheap titillation? But Yvonne Strahovski, a far more popular woman wasn't? Hell, Joker is stunt casting. The Illusive Man is stunt casting (cheap titillation, too!)

I am not sure I agree with all your points.

Liara is a scientist who is prepared to take huge risks for her work and who goes on to be one of the most powerful people in the galaxy in the second game. That's pretty tough and not ingenue like at all in my definition of the word.

As for Ashley I am not sure what a butch soldier chick fantasy is tbh but its cool to see women in the roles that most male game protagonists occupy. She is certainly not a weak-willed sex object.

Tali is cool and independant, has to find a life away from her race and is totally capable.

I don't want people to have no sexuality or gender I just don't see why they should be defined by them which is what makes Bioware such a cool game company because for the most part they let female NPC's be part of the action without having to justify their prescence through having sex appeal.

I am not sure what you point is about art direction and it may be the same as mine. I do not think art direction should be sophmoric teen fantasy - actually the opposite which again is what is generally (or at least in ME1) so good about Bioware. You seem to think that character design below the head involves showing off flesh which shows how distorted people's ideas have become.

I agree to a certain extent that the character design and art is better in the second game on a technical level but conceptually why do they need so many women in revealing or skin-tight costumes. I am all for the 'Rule of Cool' but I do not see why this should be badass armour and capes etc for men and straps, plunging necklines and bondage wear for women. You should really go to that website I linked to. She does a cool feature where she swaps the costumes of male and female characters in games - it really shows up how ridiculously women are dressed in games.

Sorry for the blunt style of this post - trying to reply to everybody ;)

p.s. I don't see how casting renowned actors is stunt casting - who else are they supposed to get - The cleaners - do it themselves? The point about Chobot is that she is clearly there to be ogled - although as I have mentioned in some other post - maybe she's a shit hot actress and this is her breakout role - we will see.

Liara in the first game is a straight up ingenue. She's shy, naive and submissive. The first thing you do when you meet her is rescue her from her own mistake, and then fight while she's too weak to do anything. Later, she's using the mindmelding thing and constantly coming close to fainting like she was in a Tennessee Williams play. The whole 'gets tougher, becomes a ruthless information broker' all comes in Mass Effect 2, which this topic establishes does not treat women very well.

Come to think of it, every female character sans Shepard is met requiring rescue. Williams is sprinting away from a conflict and gets shot in the back, Liara is trapped in a forcefield she stumbled into, and Tali is about to get killed in a way she should've seen coming. Meanwhile you meet Garrus while he's about to rescue a defenseless woman from thugs, and you meet Wrex while he's threatening police officers. Kind of one-sided when you write it all down.

As for Tali being 'cool and indepedent'... not in Mass Effect 1. There is nothing about her that makes her a character in Mass Effect 1. She's just Quarian: The Character. There is nothing unique about her story, no personal touch that makes her a real character. It isn't until Mass Effect 2 that Tali starts to develop as an individual, and more relevantly, as a woman.

Do you honestly not know why men get put into leather jackets and military uniforms and badass armor? It's because women find that attractive (men, too!). Albert Wesker shirtless is just a blonde guy. Albert Wesker with a trenchcoat is sexy. Hell, men find cool clothing as sexy as women do, it just depends on the context. Surprise, a man doesn't look as sexy as a woman in a skintight catsuit (the right man could, though). I bet a woman wouldn't look as sexy as a man wearing full battle armor with a stern look on his face. A lot of women find that attractive.

Here's the god's honest truth that you can learn from doing any sort of entertainment work; any audience prefers to look at something attractive.

#28 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@Brodehouse: I'm gonna stop quoting cos it's getting to long.

You might be right about your first point its been a while since I played the first game so I'd have to check it out again. I was a little unsure of some of my points so it might be time I refreshed my memory - however I know for certain that none of my crew dressed like strippers in the first game.

Also Inegnue to me means wide eyed little girl which really isn't how I see a scientist exploring strange planets. I think you may be exaggerating Liara's vunerability especially as she has to see her mother get killed. I I don't think you can call Ashley anything other than tough no matter how she meets Shepard - But I need to go and check it out before I make more claims.

You are right that one of the things ME2 does right is further Liara and Tali's personalities and they become much more interesting and stronger in the second game. My problem is with Miranda, Jack and Samara and I maintain they are a step back from what I want from Bioware.

As for your second point I really don't agree. Of course I like to look at attractive women -but this doesn't mean I want this all the time especially when it undermines their portrayal as I really think it does with Jack and Samara and to a certain extent with Miranda.

You will also notice that all your examples of what women find attractive are things that men like to be seen as also. Military uniforms and badass armour mean toughness and strength which is what men (generally of course) would aspire to be. Women, or at least the ones I know, don't aspire to be half naked, they aspire to be clever, strong etc (and yes beautiful as well).

Sexy isn't as simple as you make out - lots of different people find different things attractive - I prefer a woman in Battle Armour who looks like she can kick my arse than a simpering idiot in space knickers. That was, for me, what made Bioware and Mass Effect so great, that they understood that not everyone wanted to see this conventional, man-centered portrayal of sexuality in everything. And this is why the signals they are giving off from ME2 and with the Chobot thing are worrying for me.

The entire film and game industry is flooded with T&A so its nice to find the odd corner which trusts me to enjoy their product without it. I worry that it is being taken away. We will see and I still trust Bioware - no-ones perfect and they are a hell of a lot better than most.

#29 Edited by Brodehouse (9515 posts) -

@leebmx: You're arguing both sides of the point and then claiming that both sides are wrong, it's mindboggling to try and argue this. You're arguing that men want to be seen as attractive to women (yes), but women don't want to be seen as attractive to men (what?), and then people find different things attractive (yes), so women should wear X instead of Y (what?).

You prefer a woman in battle armor who looks like she can kick your ass over simpering idiots in space knickers. Exactly which character is a simpering idiot, I'd love to know. That entire statement just says if you wear battle armor you are a cool character and if you wear a catsuit you're an idiot and a bad character. You would be smarter and cooler if you wore armor. That's so ridiculously shallow I don't even know what to say.

Are you actually surprised that men aspire to be things that women find attractive? Straight men, at least. Women (straight women) aspire to be things that men find attractive, this argument that anything women do to look attractive is because of some awful man's awful desires is just completely horrendous on so many levels. You ever hear a man saying "Wish I didn't have to put on this awesome looking suit that makes me look thin, successful and powerful but I have to because women are attracted to it, sighhhh." Or a shirtless dude indignant because women are admiring his abdomen? "How dare you! I'm a person, too!" Let's stop pretending that anything men are attracted to is shallow and anything a woman is attracted to is cool.

The entire game and film industry is flooded with T&A, they're also filled with muscles. And trendy haircuts. And cool clothes. And whatever else people find attractive at that point because people prefer to look at things they find attractive. The entire Metal Gear Solid series is basically a bunch of close-ups on men's asses (women,too, sometimes). Because Kojima likes asses, a lot.

That you praise Liara and Tali's portrayal in the first but have a problem with Miranda and Jack is pretty clear that you can't see past their clothes, which is ridiculous. Jack is a perfect portrayal of an angry young woman with too much power and too much anger, and watching her struggle with it is probably some of the best writing in that game. Miranda is way more of a defined character than Tali was in the original, Miranda actually has a personality (it's kind of a bitchy know-it-all personality, but it's a personality) and a meaningful role in the story, but you can't see beyond what she's wearing. All she is to you is a girl with a fat ass. Same with Samara, nothing about Samara's story involves that she hates bras (which asari don't appear to wear anyway), her entire story is about dedication and the horrible things a person will do to because of it. Her story is Goddamn tragic, and that you focus on her clothes is sad.

#30 Posted by Dylabaloo (1549 posts) -

@VoshiNova said:

I think what bums me out most about this topic (and topics like it) is that it makes it obvious that we are taking this game too seriously.

Without understanding (or even knowing) the specific decisions the game company has to make when designing these female characters, there is no room for speculation.

That may come off as rude, but seriously, there is no way that arguments/discussions like this will ever have any effect on your time earth in a meaningful way.

Perspective.

You could say that about anything you/I ever post on all Whiskey Media sites, we go to a video game site to talk about video games!

Although I agree it's pre-mature to speculate on games but that is the nature of the Video Game industry. Hype builds and people want to discuss to kill the waiting, and in this case worries settle in that this franchise you've spent many hours invested in might get ruined, due to marketing designed to entice new people.

#31 Posted by MideonNViscera (2257 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@allworkandlowpay said:

@leebmx: Your point is poor. I've only read your first post, and it seems to be jumping to an illogical conclusion of "These characters are dressed somewhat scantily, therefore they are shallow and poor."

Seems prudish and childish to me.

If you read it closely that is not what I say, however maybe I don't express myself very clearly.

I think the characters are generally well written. I'm not that keen on Jack, and Miranda isn't amazing but they are good compared to most videogame writing. However writing is not all that makes a character believable, there is also design and chosing to put a Matriach Asari Justicar in clothes which expose massive tits is silly and not something that character would believably wear. The only reason I can see for that is a cheap thrill which I can take in lesser games but not in one which has set itself such a high standard. For example I will happily play through Bayonetta and not complain because you are not asked to take her or the game seriously, Mass Effect asks you to believe in its universe.

Also have you ever asked why it is just the women who are dressed in this way? My complaint is that Mass Effect does not cheap thrills to make itself popular, for the most part the first game got by on story, gameplay and great believable cast and this is why I love Bioware so much - they treat me as an adult not a horny teenager - I am worried a game I love is changing what I love about it.

I hope this expresses what I mean in a more concise and easier to understand fashion. I really don't think i'm being prudish or childish at all - in fact i'm asking for Bioware to continue treating me as an adult.

How do you know if it's believable to have an Asari Justicar's tits hanging out or not? They could write it so that she's actually being forced to wear more clothes than she wants to, and there's really no way you can argue it. All of ME3 could be an intergalactic orgy and you still can't argue with it. It's their game, their story, and what makes sense is decided by them.

#32 Edited by mutha3 (4985 posts) -

OP, I present to you, one of the most embarrassingly written characters in the Mass effect universe. Her entire world revolves around you, the awesome commander Shepard. The game (creepily)makes sure you know she's a virgin, constantly affirms her lack of self-esteem and all around just makes her moe as fuck.

It isn't until ME2 where Liara starts having her own motivations and grows outside of being an anime dating-sim character. Also, lets talk about the Asari in general.

What a stupid fucking concept for an alien race."Blue space babes that can fuck with any species". Ugh. Don't give me some silly codex entry about why this totally makes sense. it doesn't.

Unsurpsingly, when Liara isn't swooning over Shepard in her dialogue, the only thing she'll ever talk about is the logistics of her race's unique space-mind-fucking abilities. Krogan get one of the most well-thought conflicts in the ME universe to define them, Salarians get their ridiculous metabolism and intelligence, the race of blue woman get......space-sex. And something vague about diplomacy, I guess.

That shit is all on ME1.

#33 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

Yeah, the characters in ME1 were pretty fucking terrible in retrospect, but I think the problem is that Bioware's shoving it in our faces with their ludicrous character designs now. At least just looking at the characters in ME1, you might think that they're not pandering caricatures of women, but in ME2 (and 3 from the looks of things), the game goes out of its way to make it apparent that these are nothing like real people. Honestly, the character design was one of the only things that wasn't awful about the party members in the first game (well, Tali and Liara, anyway. I don't remember Ashley being so bad).

Honestly, it sort of feels like Bioware accidentally made Femshep a strong character just because they didn't bother to change the lines (plus Jennifer Hale's delivery). God knows if they specifically wrote her as a female from the beginning, she'd end up just as embarrassing as Jack or Liara. I think a lot of people got the impression that the ME series was actually going to be sort of progressive because of Femshep and it's slowly dawning on them with increasing horror just how bad Bioware is showing themselves to be in terms of gender representation.

#34 Posted by TheVeteran13 (1197 posts) -

Who cares?

#35 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@Brodehouse: I'm obviously not explaining myself very well. I think what I am trying to do is respond to your points rather than set out what I think so I will try to do that here.

As you point out a lot of our media think that to put something up on screen or in a game it needs to be attractive to someone visually. For me this isn't the case I prefer good characterisation, story, dialogue and then if it is part of someone's character that they are attractive - that's cool.

Why I like Bioware is that when they are doing it right (in my opinion anyway) they seem to understand this - they write good characters, stories and dialogue and seem to understand that they don't need to make everyone sexy to keep their audience's attention. What worries me about Jack, Samara and Miranda is that they seem to think that the qualities they mentioned previously aren't enough and they need to sex them up.

Again this wouldn't be the end of the world but the only characters they have dressed in an overtly sexual way are ones which conform to the steryotypical male gaze, something which I think cheapens their work and potentially alienates a lot of their audience.

I think the last paragraph you write really indicates you have missed my meaning. I think their stories are good. Miranda's is the least appealing but we can leave that to one side. The thing is I so much enjoy Bioware's story telling that I want their universe to be a coherent whole and it spoils it for me that they put these characters in impractical clothes clearly designed for cheap sex appeal. It's as annoying to me and as inappropriate to the setting as if they were all wearing medieval armour. On a deeper point I think it is offensive because it says that women characters can't just be well written etc etc they have to be sexually alluring all the time.

It is the easy option to slap up a character in skimpy clothing, and yes, it sells to a certain part of the market. Videogames are so overtly designed with the male gaze in mind that it is refreshing when you find a company who hints at the more rewarding experiences on offer when we free ourselves from such a narrow perspective. That's why this issue is important to me.

#36 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@mutha3 said:

OP, I present to you, one of the most embarrassingly written characters in the Mass effect universe. Her entire world revolves around you, the awesome commander Shepard. The game (creepily)makes sure you know she's a virgin, constantly affirms her lack of self-esteem and all around just makes her moe as fuck.

It isn't until ME2 where Liara starts having her own motivations and grows outside of being an anime dating-sim character. Also, lets talk about the Asari in general.

What a stupid fucking concept for an alien race."Blue space babes that can fuck with any species". Ugh. Don't give me some silly codex entry about why this totally makes sense. it doesn't.

Unsurpsingly, when Liara isn't swooning over Shepard in her dialogue, the only thing she'll ever talk about is the logistics of her race's unique space-mind-fucking abilities. Krogan get one of the most well-thought conflicts in the ME universe to define them, Salarians get their ridiculous metabolism and intelligence, the race of blue woman get......space-sex. And something vague about diplomacy, I guess.

That shit is all on ME1.

You are right. I think I probably drew the comparison between 1&2 too heavily. It is definitely true that Liara's character gets way better in the second game and the Asari have always been a bit of a space-sex fantasy. I still feel that ME2 throws in more cheap sexuality than the first game but what you say is very true.

It has also been pointed out that the Asari are the only only race you see in the Mass Effect univerese which is depicted as male. Lots of the other races are confirmed to be bi-gendered but you never see them in the game and all the alien races apart from Asari are voiced by male actors. This is pretty inexcusable and it would be nice to see them correct this by introducing us to female Turians or Krogan (what few there are).

So Bioware don't get it all right. They just do it better than most others which is why I want them to keep it up.

#37 Edited by Chop (1991 posts) -

Maybe you need to get over your hang ups on sexuality. Miranda, Jack, Tali, and Liara are all fantastically written, strong female characters (far better than anything in the first game) and them dressing all sexy doesn't change that.

You can't handle a little pandering and fan service through attractive design? Maybe you're not human D:

#38 Posted by Undeadpool (4902 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

The Illusive Man is stunt casting (cheap titillation, too!)

Oh Young Martin Sheen With Glowing Eyes, none must know of my secret love for you...oh wait, am I typing this? Oh fu-

#39 Posted by mutha3 (4985 posts) -

@Notkcots said:

At least just looking at the characters in ME1, you might think that they're not pandering caricatures of women, but in ME2 (and 3 from the looks of things), the game goes out of its way to make it apparent that these are nothing like real people.

Oh, come the hell on. I like shitting on Bioware as much as the next guy, but lets stay rational here. Yeah, Yeah, Miranda and Samara have godawful character designs, but lets not pretend now like character design and writing are codependent.

@Chop said:

You can't handle a little pandering and fan service through attractive design? Maybe you're not human D:

....This on the other hand is almost equally stupid.

Nah man, I'm good, I don't need a space knight-monk showing her polygonal cleavage.

#40 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@Chop said:

Maybe you need to get over your hang ups on sexuality. Miranda, Jack, Tali, and Liara are all fantastically written, strong female characters (far better than anything in the first game) and them dressing all sexy doesn't change that.

You can't handle a little pandering and fan service through attractive design? Maybe you're not human D:

Weird.. in the PM this message provided you call me sexist and shallow...maybe I got the unedited version :)

My point is that almost all gaming is full of pandering and fan service (almost exclusively for straight male btw), I was enjoying having a little space free of it and am worried Bioware might be changing.

Also I really don't get this argument that because you complain about characters being sexualised you are somehow repressed. I like looking at attractive people I just don't see why all media needs everyone to be sexy just cos - and let's think for a minute about whose idea of sexy it is.

Tits are wonderful things I just don't need to be confronted with them at all points. I don't need constant titilation.

#41 Edited by MormonWarrior (2528 posts) -

Weird. I didn't care about the stories or fiction of Mass Effect until 2, where I feel like they finally made the characters likeable, unique, and meaningful. The first one just felt like "KOTOR but...kinda Gears of War? But crappy." I've beaten the first game three times now, one of those times with 100% completion, but it took the polish and incredible design of the second game to make me like the first.

It's just plain annoying to me that there's always this clump of fans within any series that hold that the first game was flawless (or nearly flawless) and hate any and all changes made. Mass Effect was a flawed, unfocused RPG that couldn't quite decide if it was more of a shooter or more of a traditional roleplaying game, so it ended up not being great at either. Inventory was a mess, side quests and exploration were extremely repetitive and mostly horrifically boring, and even most of the main story quests were badly designed or buggy. I felt the game had promise it never really delivered on until they realized that the strengths of the game were in its story, moral choices, and dialogue. So they scrapped the slavish adherence to archaic RPG standards and made a darn fine shooter with great customization in a vast, tightly-designed world filled with things to explore. Heck, I think Mass Effect 2 is second only to the Gears of War franchise in terms of its third-person shooting mechanics and can't WAIT for what ME3 will bring, EA marketing shenanigans notwithstanding.

(I must note that I'm fine with somebody preferring the feel or tone or whatever of the first game, but its gameplay was largely considered as lacking or complete garbage by most players, reviewers, etc. at the time of release with its new fiction and dialogue being the redeeming qualities.)

Also, as far as Jack and Miranda go, there were storyline reasons for their sexualized appearance (Miranda being a biologically manufactured idealized woman, and Jack being a severely messed up test patient that has a twisted view of things). As for the asari lady...she always made me uncomfortable, simply because she's such an old asari lady showing so much cleavage. I can back that up.

Ashley seriously sucks in any game. And Kaiden's no better. Wish I could've killed them both. Wrex was the only character I loved in the first game, and Joker sometimes. I like Tali and Garrus a lot more in the second game because they're far more fleshed out. The first game was too focused on Saren to develop the other characters.

#42 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@MormonWarrior: I agree with a lot of what you say. The gameplay was definitely better in 2 and as I concede in some of my replies some of the characters, Liara for example, are improved as well. There is no doubt that the second game has way more polish as well.

I guess that's the beauty of an artform that you can take all the component parts of something, compare them and still end up prefering the seemingly inferior game. As I say in the original post it is the story which made me fall in love with ME1, specifically the reveal of what the Reapers really mean and the fate of the Protheans. It was just epicly bleak and hints and so many other questions about what the universe is etc etc waffle waffle - I just loved it and I kind of knew they would never be able to see it though in a trilogy because the only satisfactory ending I can see would be very gloomy. Game Fiction is generally pretty poor - I read a lot and most books kick game writing into a cocked hat so ME1 was a revelation.

Games are fun and generally light stuff and I get that most people do not want it them be serious literature. I don't either but the odd exception would be nice and ME hinted at that potential. That's why I am getting so angsty about its future.

We will have to respectfully disagree about the Jack and Miranda - I think they have been written, Jack to pander to teenage goth tastes and Miranda to pour into a skin tight costume and I would rather they didn't do it. They could be written with almost exactly the same backstory without pandering to cheap sexual exploitation.

To re-emphasise I don't hate ME2 at all. It's one of my favourite games and it's only because I love the series so much and its shown such potential that I hope for continuing high standards.

#43 Edited by SirPhoebos (3 posts) -

There are lots of arguments for giving Bioware the benefit of the doubt, and that their storytelling hasn't been slowly degenerating. Sadly, I refuse to consider them ever since Bioware decided that trializing the Holocaust in Dragon Age 2 was a mark of deep storytelling. So I will not have anything to do with ME3 or any Bioware game no matter how much I may have enjoyed them, because once you take the most horrific event in human history and use it as a snarky quip in a fantasy game, I want nothing to do with you.

#44 Posted by Dookysharpgun (586 posts) -

@Notkcots said:

Teenage Boy Space Marine Fantasy Wank Shooter #62024.

This made me laugh so hard, I actually hurt myself.

OP: I would say that you've put Tali on a pedestal, as her character is the classic 'sheltered girl' who falls for the big, strong man. That's not to say that she isn't independent, but she does ask "what would Shepard do?" in a recording in ME2. Just sayin' that if we're arguing sexism, there are many, many different variations on the meaning.

Ashley...ok, I'll let you away with that one, she's a straight soldier, but she doesn't hide her sexuality when it counts. Liara is the completely clueless sheltered girl, but only because she was so wrapped up in her work, so yeah, lets say that that's not exempt from sexist stereotype, but its not awful.

Samara was pure sex on legs, Jack was a bondage fantasy come true, and as for Miranda...genetically engineered 'perfect woman' fantasy...yeah, not exactly awesome. Now, I can't say I mind, however, their characteristics and motivations were...less than. Samara is a walking poster-board for Asari sterilization, and if she had three daughters, all of which were vampire-esque creatures, how could she never goddamn learn from her track record? Jack was your classic abandonment issues stereotype, who'll sleep with anything, because she is 'messed up'. Then when you finally nail her, shes revealed as a sensitive soul who needed the right person to love her. Miranda has daddy issues, and they come across as awful whiny for a woman who ruthlessly shot a dude in the head moments after he opened a door.

We don't talk about the Human Reaper alright? Don't even go there.

The Chobot thing? Look, they made a damn anime statue out of her, and creepy people love her because she plays games. That's it. Is she a famous actress? No. She hosts IGN's gaming shows. I can't imagine her voice being anything spectacular. I could be utterly wrong, but she doesn't strike me as someone whose voice-acting would really seem believable. If I'm proven wrong, then that's grand, but it really seems like pandering to kids who really need to get laid.

I doubt I'll be picking up ME3 anyway, very little appeal to me, I've got backlog and work to do, so really, I can't squeeze another game in. I'll play the demo, form my opinions, but really, ME has degraded, with ME2 all but forgetting the reaper threat, using lazy excuses to justify the need for the second title. I loved it when I first played it, but it doesn't age well. Seeing as Arrival all but invalidated the story of ME1 & 2, I think we can say that Bioware need all the help they can get, as the spoilers leaked last year really did shock them too, as the backlash from pretty much every decision they've made has been more than damning for them, and they've done nothing that has really impressed anyone, with most people, even those on their side, dreading the final product.

#45 Posted by AngelN7 (2970 posts) -

I can't take these arguments of "overly sexualized" characters serious anymore mostly because they´re always the same. I would like too see the input of a female on this because this may shock you buy in the real world most women (at least young ones...hell even older ones) dress in a manner to impress and gain the looks and attention of people not all of them of course but also this is an entertaiment medium so of course that characters are going to be design in an atractive manner.

When you put that much attention to the way the look instead of the way they are you´re clearly missing the point of looking over appearances and to not judged based on looks, and it's so easy to just diss on Bioware but no one will say anything about any other company it's not like they made unattractive or not sexualied characters on other games I could just list them but what's the point this is just "look what they're doing to women!" why don't we let them have their say in that regard?.

#46 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

@AngelN7:

By heavens, you're right! It's not like we've been lodging the same complaints over and over again because no one listens and games keep pulling the same shit with regards to gender representations they did 10 years ago! I guess that's it folks, we should all just pack up and go home; we've been told. There's no problem with automatically putting every female character in a space bikini so long as they have a good personality, right? You're just being shallow if you can't look past the fact that they're dressed like strippers to see the deep personalities hidden behind their sexy shells!

And why are you assuming that none of us are women, again? Also, I'll totally "diss on" (sic) other companies about their gender representations; believe it or not, Bioware is sadly one of the better studios in that regard. You want to hear my rant about Metroid: Other M?

#47 Posted by AngelN7 (2970 posts) -

@Notkcots: No, I would like to hear your rant on the portrait of females on EVERY mainstream piece of entertaiment media product made in the last 10 years, oh and love hiperbolic comments like "space bikinis" please point me out to that in the game , did I say that "none of you" were women? No I said I would like to see the point of view of a female on this regard because it always comes up from a male with the same points "Oh god she has cleveage! she's a whore!" wich goes back to my point some people just can't look pass appearances, even if those portraits are not accuarte to a greater population (you know the many female asari that exist out there and dress decently) that shouldn't detract for whatever the writers intent to prove in the development of said character, prove to me why a character like Samara a "space striper" when she even refuses to have a forced "Mass Effect-y" relationship with you, oh right it's because you can see her boobs.

Do all characters specially females (because it dosn't matter that default Shepard is based on a model , or that his pecs are are more broader in the new armor design he's a male so that isn't over sexualizing right?) need to be overly sexualized in thier design? of course not! many games prove that you can have "believable" character design and have great well developed characters without the design of he/she/it gets in the way of his/her portrait . But that dosn't not mean that all of the other characters who are clearly design in a way to make their features or sexuality stand out are bad representations or just all arround bad characters, some of them are a lot of them, whether or not the character is well developed is a matter of the way he/she is written in the story not to his/her appearance.

#48 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

@AngelN7:

Right, shitty, objectified character designs don't necessarily make a character bad, but it's usually a pretty good indication. If someone thinks it's acceptable to have their character run around in horribly demeaning stripper gear in the middle of combat, that's usually a pretty good indication that that person isn't a smart enough person to write a decently developed character. Not that it really matters to my argument, anyway: most of the female ME characters are shit regardless of their character designs. Tali and Jack are seriously just the tired old tropes of "innocent young nerd girl whose entire life basically revolves around her creepy devotion to the player character" and "damaged goods waiting to be healed by your magic cock," respectively. The godawful character designs are just icing on the cake. Honestly, Ashley isn't too bad, though, as I've mentioned before, but her new character design gives me the sinking feeling they're going to fuck her up somehow.

And there absolutely is a gender disparity in terms of objectification. How many of the male aliens are designed to be sexy? Thane, maybe. Why are all of the female aliens shaped like supermodels? And even with humans, when did the male crew walk around with their shirt half unbuttoned? Did I miss the scene where Jacob only wears a strap across his chest? I get that some of the guys are based on attractive people, but they're not dressed like strippers. Haha, and right, I'm totally calling the women whores, good job picking up on that, dude. I'm sure it's apparent to everyone that my comments stem from my raging misogyny and desire to condemn sexually liberated women. Thanks for pointing that out. Also, learn to type, man. Your posts are barely coherent.

#49 Posted by AngelN7 (2970 posts) -

@Notkcots: Making a stereotype out of something it's very easy here : "You're the sort of person who judges on appaerances" so dismissing any character in a sentence shows that you just care to prove your point and nothing else as everything can be turn into a stereotype without it actually being one , I won't go on as it's clealy that you just don't care for discussing the characters themselves as much as bring the same points "Oh god look how women are dress, men are all sexed up too... but that's not the point " there's no disparity in the design of the characters all them where made with the single porpuse of making them interesting and appealing to look at.Tthe writting is all subjective to opinions so if you think is bad then it's bad some other people dosn't it is think so but please objectification is not why the characters are "bad" that was the whole point in the design behind Jack but either you didn't played the game or you just based your judgement on the trailers, as I said I wouldn't go on because this is not about bad written characters this is about your personal dislike of them and of course Opinions! wich is useless to disscuss on the internet, oh and don't worry Im learning how to type in english by talking to you.

#50 Posted by leebmx (2198 posts) -

@AngelN7 said:

I can't take these arguments of "overly sexualized" characters serious anymore mostly because they´re always the same. I would like too see the input of a female on this because this may shock you buy in the real world most women (at least young ones...hell even older ones) dress in a manner to impress and gain the looks and attention of people not all of them of course but also this is an entertaiment medium so of course that characters are going to be design in an atractive manner.

When you put that much attention to the way the look instead of the way they are you´re clearly missing the point of looking over appearances and to not judged based on looks, and it's so easy to just diss on Bioware but no one will say anything about any other company it's not like they made unattractive or not sexualied characters on other games I could just list them but what's the point this is just "look what they're doing to women!" why don't we let them have their say in that regard?.

I agree with you in a way. It's more that Bioware generally do it so well and have shown they can make great games and characters without resorting to cheap sexism that I fell the need to critise them. I want them to keep their standards up. Most of the rest of the industry I realise are far worst offenders.

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