Shepard Ain't White: Playing With Race And Gender In Mass Effect

TWC: How many big-budget games depict a woman of color as the protagonist? I tried to research this and beyond the obvious (Mirror’s Edge, the Portals) and the results were too depressingly slim even to report. No matter Shepard’s skin tone, the Mass Effect series does a lot with race and racism/xenophobia within its narrative, some of it under the radar, some of it overt.

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chidori6663617d ago ShowReplies(6)
Ares843617d ago

I think if you look at the cover of ME1 and ME2 it's pretty clear that you see a white man.

Or is there something I don't see???

I think this just opens up a can of worms and just fuels racism.

If people want racism to stop than topics like this should not be allowed start.

JsonHenry3617d ago

Yeah, I remember having almost exclusively black friends in elementary school. Then they start teaching about slavery and "black history month" in schools and all of a sudden all of my black friends treat me like I was personally responsible for it.

But the basic mindset of tribalism is a natural one for humans. At its basic level it is not because someone is a different color but a pre-historic mindset genetically hardwired into the human brain. Which is why people fight and argue over stupid shit. Just look at gangs, country clubs, and politics. It is all about, in its basic form, as sense of identity and all outsiders are not to be trusted or allowed.

ASSASSYN 36o3617d ago (Edited 3617d ago )

Part of having friends of different race means you need to be prepared to confront the issues they have. No you weren't part of the issue that caused slavery. I wouldn't blame you or your black friends. I blame the method the teacher used to deliver that knowledge and how he or she failed to avoid the anger it may have generated and instead challenge the students to see how we as Americans have altered the very face of race relations together as a people. No where in the world do civil rights exists as it does here in the united states. Blacks and whites were highly intrumental in bringing that gift to the world even while slavery was legal. That is what we all won from slavery, a cooperation that did not exists anywhere. That is what we give to the world. Work is still to be done but the ground work was laid well before anyone of us was born.

Pozzle3617d ago (Edited 3617d ago )

Sadly, people aren't going to stop being racist just because everyone ignores racism. If anything, it would fuel racists because nobody would be telling them their behavior isn't acceptable.

The only reason non-white people have any rights in Western countries is because a big deal was made out of it. Imagine what the world would look like if everyone had just ignored these calls of racism and discrimination. A big portion of the non-white Western world would still be treated as second-class citizens.

So IMO it's a good thing articles like this exist. Because it makes developers realize that there ARE people out there who want more diversity in their characters. If devs just ignored all feedback from gamers, gaming would never progress.

Focker4203617d ago (Edited 3617d ago )

So you want the game developers to generalize and base their character development on social stereotypes??

To have a narrative that reacts differently to an 'uppity' black woman as you put it, compared to a angry white male??

Or to have characters assume a woman is just mad because she has PMS?? Thats absolutely ludicrous, and sexist.

You're following a stereotype that all woman act the same, that different races and genders all act according to the group they are classified into. That's racism at its lowest form.

Not everyone acts the same, and when you start manipulating the narrative to react differently to your character because of their race or gender than it would be considered racist. Because it is.

You are bringing stereotypes to life, and in a serious game like Mass Effect that would never fly. Maybe in a game like Saints Row or something. But when you start doing it in games like Mass Effect all it does is cause racial and sexist problems.

I am 100% against your idea, I think its stupid to direct a narrative that changes the way characters behave based on what race and gender you make your character. You are then taking the actions of a few individuals and labeling those races and genders to all have those same characteristics. Basically using nothing but stereotypes to drive the narrative.

I found the majority of your article racist and sexist.

edit: Oh and as for your "Sadly, people aren't going to stop being racist just because everyone ignores racism" comment. Perpetuating racism and sexism isn't going to help anything either. All you are doing is promoting it if you were to try and build a game that plays the way you are suggesting.

edit: @Pozzle below
Because its an opinion piece and you submitted it. And from your post above it seems you agree with the article. So even if you didn't write the article I still direct my post at you.

Pozzle3617d ago (Edited 3617d ago )

I don't know why you're assuming I wrote the article? :/

Edit: That's fair enough. Tbh, I don't agree with all the points the article made, but I do like that these issues are at least being brought up. I would definitely like to see more diverse characters in games.

Shadowstar3617d ago

So... to solve a problem, we must first ignore it?

Sounds a bit like a fortune cookie.

Ares843617d ago

No, that isn't what I said.

To solve a problem we have to talk about it obviously but you should not provoke anyone involved.

This is provoking white people on purpose. It's as clear as day. That is the only point of this article.

MOTY3617d ago

To me he looks of Latin descent.

ASSASSYN 36o3617d ago (Edited 3617d ago )

@ares Are from the Untied States. Because this nation is known for opening all topics and discussing them at will, freely. We don't supress issues we deem controversial just because it would be conveint. But then again this is a big boy topic filled with emotions and a requires maturity you may not be prepared for. So I understand your not wanting to discuss it.

Ares843617d ago

Hahahaha, ok than.

Because in the USA it is fine to purposely insult a race of people just because that is what you want to do. It isn't morally a bad thing right?

I mean it's in the constitution that you can insult whoever whenever and it is A-OK.

Come on people! Have some sense!

By the way, you think the US got enough oil by taking over Afghanistan and Iraq or you think that the US is more greedy and want's to take over Iran as well because people in the US are so greedy and want more oil.........

.....see what I did there?

SITH3615d ago

The us didn't get any oil from Iraq or Afghanistan. Iraqi oil bids intentionally excluded the US and Afghanistan has not shown to be a viable source of oil. It is rich in minerals. If you are going to vastly the us over those issues, then please educate yourself on the facts. K thank you. But that would require the not so common sense you lack.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 3615d ago
maniacmayhem3617d ago

Really? First time i saw Shepard i knew he was some kind of mixed race type.

wumster3617d ago

I thought so too. I don't understand the disagrees.

ct033617d ago

I understand them. Shepard is not a "He".

BeaArthur3617d ago

Not going to lie, all my Shepards are white.

wumster3617d ago

Mine have been multiple races and genders. I have 3 playthroughs per mASS Effect, and i try to throw a little variety in. It gets tiresome seeing the same protagonist all the time.

TenSteps3617d ago

Default Shep is white, he was based off Mark Vanderloo.

I prefer this one though

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