This has been a notion that has bothered me for a while about the Mass Effect series, and since it came up on the most recent Bombcast, it's as good a time as any.
Patrick, on the most recent Bombcast, and a number of duders on the forums as well, have offered up an idea about Commander Shepard that I believe is patently wrong. Patrick described Shepard as a "non-character," and that "Shepard is you." He stated that this is why people feel invested in their Shepards through the Mass Effect series. I have NEVER felt that Shepard was "me." In my mind, Shepard is a character who I influence. While I get to select his/her gender, origin story, and looks, I am not making myself. I am making a character. I am not speaking as myself with Shepard, I am indicating the direction I would like their response to follow.
I am not the actor; I am a director. I have always seen myself in the role of a director in any given scene. Shepard is my actor, and I tell him/her what they are feeling and they act accordingly, but they are not me. In fact, that's the problem I've had with ME3 a lot of times. The lines coming out of Shepard haven't always felt up to snuff and I want to yell, "Cut! Give me another read on that line." But I never think, "That's not what I would have said." I think, "That's not what Shepard would say."
So are you Shepard, or are you a director?