Let’s talk about Miranda Lawson.
When you have a chance to talk with her in Mass Effect 2 and ask her about herself, one of the first things she’ll tell you is that she was “genetically designed to look this way” before telling you about her father and her sister.
I usually play as FemShep and since Miranda is straight, I kinda feel like it’s inappropriate for her to to tell you how she was born and about her looks. I have no intention of trying to flirt with you, first of all, and second, even though it’s the year 2183, you’re still a woman; how you got here doesn’t matter to patriarchy.
I can also understand how proud of this she feels, however. “It gives me an edge.” Hell, yes, use your body and biotic powers to show patriarchy who’s boss!
What I DON’T understand is why we need to be more familiar with her ass than with the struggle with having to deal with a man like her father growing up, the trials of trying to adjust to what her version of being a real woman is, and even though she is “perfect”, she has trouble trying to conceive. Miranda is a great character, I just wish I could have known more about HER and not just her assets.
The exploitation of femme bodies is nothing new, but it is old and tired. Whenever the exploitation of masculine bodies is brought up, male gamers from around the world sound off about how that’s “gay”, having to be subjected to seeing male bodies sexualized, ignoring the fact femmes make up almost half the gaming community, which makes sense. A lot of gamers watched and played with older siblings when SNES and Sega were at “war”, no matter the gender.
I’m more irritated at the fact that we have to break through a character’s sexy persona before we get to know anything else about them. Voice acting helps shine personality into people, but it doesn’t help the player understand their possible romance option when trying to humanize them.
Just like real life, NPCs should be able to multifaceted. They should be able to express a range of emotion, especially in RPGs that take a good amount of hours to play.
In games like Mass Effect where you are able to choose your gender and interact with crew members of the same or opposite gender, the player should be able to come back and talk to them to get to know them more. I’m not saying we should find out what their favorite color is or what they named their childhood pet, but it would be nice if a new dialogue option popped up every so often if you already did or if the character in question went “Hey Shep, got a question for ya.”
It feels like asking for too much when I, a consumer, want a more open game. Not just opened world, but more open people. Having a jock character is fine, but I’m sure that character likes other things besides working out and sports. Having a snob character is fine, but I’m sure that character enjoys the little things in life.
“I like to know my crew.”