Last week, Bioware revealed the fan-chosen design for their lady Shepard that will go into select pieces of marketing. It’s exciting that after two full releases, the better of the two Shepards will get her due.
Despite not having been on any of the marketing for either of the previous games, FemmeShep has garnered her own cult following. While no discussion of her could be made without mentioning the stellar voice work from Jennifer Hale, I think a large part of the draw is finally getting a female lead that can be taken seriously.
Part of the reason is that Bioware scripted a character whose actions don’t change depending on whether the player chooses a male or female model. Shepard is heroic. Period. Not heroic for a woman. It’s the same Shepard that drifts through space after saving the lives of the Normandy’s crew at the opening of Mass 2. Virtues such as integrity and bravery don’t change because of how the possessor looks. FemmeShep has the same swagger, the same punchy dialogue as dude.
This is important. Games with female leads tend to put too much focus on actively being a woman. They go out of their way to scream ‘this is what i feel it’s like to be a woman!’ But some of the most respected female leads don’t wear that hat. Think Alex Vance from Half-Life 2, The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. These characters are women who are used to being women, not trying to be them.