Feminist gaming blog with a heaping dash of science and politics

Mass Effect 3 Blogthru Part 5: Maybe we should put Joker in charge of R&D

Last time, I ran around doing a whole bunch of errands which eventually led to me making a huge mistake. Now it’s time for me to deal with the fallout of that mistake and probably run a bunch more errands.  Yay for being a completionist!

*Avert thine eyes, there be spoilers ahead!*

So I log in and am promptly flagged down by Specialist Traynor. Apparently this is what I get for logging out right behind her. She informs me that she has found out about a group of Cerberus scientists that seem to have defected from the Illusive Man’s cause. She proposes that we could rescue them and get them to work on Crucible. Personally, I’m a little wary of the whole deal because of Cerberus’ new found love of indoctrination, but I agree to go check it out. Firth, though, I have to go check in on my crew and see how they’re coping with Kaidan’s death at my hands.

I head to the cockpit and talk to Joker who is quite upset about our old friend Kaidan. At one point during the conversation I start pitching a fit about him not trusting me (which he totally didn’t) and Joker attempts to calm me by saying I was dead and didn’t have a choice in working with Cerberus, that it was really only he who made the active decision to join Cerberus. At that point, I think EDI has had enough of the pity party and yells at us to chillax, we did the only logical thing in our attempt to stop the Collectors. Joker says that doesnt really help, but thanks her anyways for giving us the chance to end the quickly downward spiraling conversation.

Even in his sadness, Joker still tries to be 'helpful'. Part of me hopes that's what the Crucible actually does.

Next up I talk to EDI who is contemplating her own mortality. She asks me what the purpose of synthetic life is. I tell her she can do what she wants, she has free will now. She says purpose to organic life is to spread its genes, and in studying other succesful synthetic life she finds only the Geth and Reapers as examples. Should she do as they do? While I’m tempted to tell her not to ever use the Reapers as a role model, I instead tell her that’s not the whole purpose of organic life, we find meaning in what we do, who we love, how we live. She researches/ponders on this for a moment, and decides to alter her programming to prioritize duty, altruism, and love. Joker and I are a little confused about how she can do that, but to her the matter is settled. Gameplay wise, I find it a little unsettling how blatantly her personality change is played out. I get that a lot of times the player impacts and changes their companion’s morality and personality, but its usually dressed up in long conversations about ethics and hypotheticals. Here I just barely gave her some new information (only one dialogue choice) and suddenly she’s decided to completely rewrite her personality. It’s odd and does not play in very well with her new character design positing. She’s no longer just a sexy robot, now she’s a sexy robot with an easily changeable personality. One bad conversation choice or request from her LI, Joker, and she could easily stray into the territory of being little more than a highly advanced RealDoll.

As for the rest of the crew: Cortez gave me his condolences; Vega just stared at his muscles some more; Dr Chakwas wants me to trade out some of our excess, useless medical supplies for more useful ones at the Citadel Refugee camp; and Chief Engineer Adams chats with me about the newly reinstated engineers Donnely and Daniels from Mass Effect 2 and they all ask me to get a new piece of equipment to help with a safety issue down in the engineering deck. I found Garrus standing in front of the ship’s war memorial, mourning Kaidan. I still can’t bring myself to do the paragon dialogue choices in the ‘lets all mourn the idiot who almost got everyone killed’ conversations. Perhaps some of it is doubling down on the admitely bad decisions that led to me shooting him, and part of it is I really need some Renegade points. All this species saving I’ve been doing is getting me way too many goody two shoes points. That is, of course, till I get to Liara mourning in the observation deck. I comfort her and vow to get revenge on the Illusive Man for putting me in the situation of having to shoot Kaidan to save the Councilors.

After that, I head up to my quarters, since I’m Captain of the vessel I get a nice lil apartment all to myself. Specialist Traynor comes up for a visit and to play ‘chess’. But I think she might have had other ‘games’ in mind, so I make sure ‘chess’ really does just stay chess. Serously, Liara is just a floor below! I can’t cheat on my one true blue love! But I do love Traynor (different kinda love), she’s really is a great character.

Next up on the visitor’s list is Diana Allers coming up to my room for an interview. I’ve been putting off talking about her for a bit (mostly cause I’ve been a little too wordy as is in my blogthrus), but her character design is annoying. Honestly, I like what her character does, I think it’s a rather smart addition to the game, it adds another frame of reference to what Commander Shepard is doing to save the galaxy. However, I don’t like is what the character is deep down. Now, I dont give a rats ass about the whole controversy and rumors about how Chobot, the woman who lent her voice and likness to the character, got the gig. What I do care about is that they chose a gaming personality that is most famously known for basically striking a patriarchal bargin and being a celebrity woman in a deeply sexist gamer culture and put her voice and celebrity behind a character who is sloppily sexualized for no good reason. Well, unless you think pandering to a small segment of your audience at the expense of the dignity of the rest of your audience is a ‘good reason’. Anyhoo, like I said, I like her character and I think the small snippets of convo with her and her interviews are pretty good. I mostly just hate the way she’s been dressed in that same skin tight, horridly cut dress that suctions onto her boobs so tightly you can see nipple and under boob cleavage that was foisted upon F!Shep as her ‘special casual wear’. It’s not elegant, its not fashionable (not even according to what everyone else in the galaxy wears), and its definitely not professional looking (again, especially when you consider what other journalists in the galaxy wear). It’s just a low cut, super tight, super transparant ploy to get the attention of horny male players. Which just further feeds into the culture that forces women like Chobot and other less famous female gamers to make those terrible patriarchal bargins to begin with. And then we get to the private interview, wherein she sashays into my room (an animation I have yet to see on any other character) and after the interview passively waits for me to proposition her. Suddenly its rather clear that the parts of her character that I like, the interviewing and converations, are simply tangential to her real purpose in the game as a tasty morsel for male players to devour. The fact that there is no analogous male character only underscores the sexism that went into the making of her character.

Having an embedded war journalist on the Normandy is awesome. Having a character steeped in sexist and problematic bullshit is the exact opposite of awesome. Come on Bioware, you can do better.

Once I’m done with the chit chatting, I proceed to mess around for a bit getting rid of go fetch quests and scanning most of the galaxy for hidden treasures. I eventually end up back on the Citadel running errands (again) and solidifying Aria’s deals with the mercenary bands. On my way back out to the Normandy, I run into Cortez who is taking my advice and taking some shore leave to try to clear his head. He’s still rather traumitized by his husband’s death and is dealing with some serious survivor’s guilt. I manage to give him a pretty decent pep talk which I think makes him feel a bit better. I really like this character, he’s the first major gay male character in the series, and he’s referhingly non-stereotyped, nor was he taken in a direction to try to distance himself from those ‘other’ gays. He’s a soldier, a shuttle pilot, and he just so happens to have lost his husband in this war. Much like Joker is a soldier and pilot who just so happens to have brittle bone syndrome.

After a little bit more treasure hunting, I finally get around to doing an actual mission and head out to rescue the defected Cerberus scientists. Lo and behold who is already there protecting them? Jacob, my second least favorite LI. He’s actually the only male LI I ever found physically appealing, but he was way too self-centered (seriously, your father mind-wipes his female crew members and turns them into sex slaves, and all you can talk about is your issues with him?) and the whole romance with him was very much tinged with “I wouldn’t put up with this shit from any other woman, but since it’s you I’m going to let it slide… sorta” . For me, it had too much of the stink of an emotionally abusive relationship for it to be at all viable for my Commander Shepard. So once we got to the point where he got angry jealous when I called it off, I definitely felt like I’d dodged a bullet. But now in Mass Effect 3, he’s a lot more tolerable and there’s not even a hint of that old self-centredness. He’s found a cause and someone worth sacrificing everything for, and for all the right reasons this time. Even though it was only a few minutes worth of interaction, I think he’s grown into a much better character.

Its probably just a coincidence, but I do find it funny that my two least favorite LIs get a little banged up during our reunions. I am glad, though, that Jacob turned over a new leaf. He's better for it.

And that’s it for that play session. Like, I said, I did a LOT of errand running and treasure hunting (I think I’ve got all but a couple of the clusters at 100%). Next time we’ll start off at the Citadel again. I got a couple emails asking for meetings once I got back from Jacob’s mission and I am not making the same mistake twice, so I’m going straight there in hopes that I won’t get another one of my team killed.


2 responses to “Mass Effect 3 Blogthru Part 5: Maybe we should put Joker in charge of R&D

  1. feministgamer March 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    “But now in Mass Effect 3, he’s a lot more tolerable and there’s not even a hint of that old self-centredness.”
    Just wait. There is a charming conversation on the Citadel, that goes about the same whether you romanced him or not.

  2. Deon Marianna April 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    My cave apparently doesn’t get the media mentioning who or what this Chobot person is, but I hated her anyway (moreso now after a bit of study). Emily Wong was so endearing, even in her short appearances. A real investigative journalist, who was trying to make the galaxy a better, safer place. I was SO disappointing not to see her again, I immediately hated Allers.

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