Mass Effect Win: Awesome things that aren’t FemShep

Okay, guys. I promise this will be my last post about Mass Effect for a while. I just wanted to round up with some non-FemShep related awesomeness, lest people think that the only reason I played the Mass Effect games was an unholy obsession with Jennifer Hale.

Now I’ll have to add here, since I do mention some of the ME2 DLC, that I was pretty selective in what DLC I was willing to pay for. I didn’t pay for extra costumes, even though it would have been a worthwhile investment for Samara, Jack, and Miranda. I also didn’t spring for the Kasumi DLC. So if there’s something that you like particularly about a DLC not mentioned, it’s probable that I never played it.

Lair of the Shadow Broker: SO MUCH WIN

Okay. So I’ll confess that Liara wasn’t exactly my favorite character in the first Mass Effect. She was pretty useful mechanically, since my first playthrough was as a soldier, and it wasn’t like she was actively offensive like Ashley. (I know, I know. Some people love Ashley. Her xenophobia completely turned me off.) But I couldn’t escape the feeling that she was a bit fetishized for male audiences since her innocence and youth were constantly played up and the dialogue between her and Shepard is decidedly awkward in many places.

So I was definitely pleasantly surprised at the transition Liara had apparently undergone between the first Mass Effect and ME2. Rather than being some awkward innocent pining after Shepard, Liara had come into her own as an independent character with her own goals – goals that didn’t necessarily align with Shepard’s. That was great in and of itself – it’s always refreshing to encounter female characters who have goals of their own rather than just being like I WANT WHATEVER THE HERO WANTS TEE HEE.

But the thing I especially loved about Liara’s motivations in Lair of the Shadow Broker is that the mission is essentially a “save the damsel” mission turned on its head. I love the fact that Liara is out to save Feron, her (male) friend that helped recover Shepard’s corpse and was captured by the Shadow Broker in the process. What’s even better is that Feron is just Liara’s friend, not anything more. It turned the “save the damsel” stereotype on its head in every way possible, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Yes I realize how weird this makes me.

The premise of the mission completely rocked, and BioWare delivered on execution as well. I wouldn’t have believed that the Liara from the first Mass Effect could have been capable of becoming the new Shadow Broker, but I could certainly believe it of the Liara you encounter in ME2. The emphasis that they placed on Liara’s biotic powers was certainly cool, especially when she pulled stunts like jumping two stories out of a window. But I also really appreciated, again, the fact that Liara was being written as someone who had found an identity separate from Shepard, despite their interests coinciding for the sake of the mission.

There were also some really great character interactions between Shepard and Liara, one of my favorites being the car chase and the banter between the two of them. It was something straight out of a comedy action film, and I found it especially cool while playing FemShep since it’s the sort of banter you associate with either Male-Male or Male-Female action heroes. Certainly not the kind of dialogue you’d expect out of two women.

In addition to badass Liara, we also got to see a female rogue Specter-turned-terrorist – yet another example of an non-typical gender role. I realize this is dating me, but I was a bit reminded of Dennis Hopper’s villain from Speed – the cop-turned-terrorist. The Specter in Lair of the Shadow Broker might have had slightly more noble intentions (possibly), but the fact remains that “terrorist” is a role that still gets cast almost exclusively as male. Calling the Specter a “rogue agent” makes it a bit more normal for her to be female, but the fact that she isn’t sexualized at any point during the mission still makes her atypical in my books and pretty awesome as a female villain.

And of course, who could forget the completely fucking awesome moment at the end where Liara is standing in front of the bank of monitors as she takes up the mantle of the Shadow Broker?

It was so unbelievably epic and very well done. And the whole mission really gave Liara a new depth that you don’t see often with female characters. So from start to finish, Lair of the Shadow Broker gets two thumbs up from me.

Tali: simultaneously competent, endearing, and pretty badass

So I know that there has been the assertion on the part of some that Tali is an attempt to appeal to moe fanboys. And here’s the thing. If anyone said that about Liara in the first Mass Effect, I’d probably nod and say “yup”. But Tali? No friggin’ way.

Here’s the thing. In the first Mass Effect, Tali is definitely a bit naive, and certainly displays signs of having been sheltered. But when you think about Tali’s background, having been raised in an isolationist environment as part of the Quarian Migrant Fleet, her actions in the first game are very much consistent with the logic of her background. But even while I would call Tali from the first game sheltered, I would never call her “vulnerable” or “incapable” or “cute”. As a Quarian newly on pilgrimage, Tali decided she needed to take steps to take down Sarin, the biggest threat in known space besides Sovereign at the time of her pilgrimage. Just to put that in perspective, that would be like an Amish teenager deciding that they wanted to take down, I don’t know, Osama bin Ladin (if he weren’t dead) or Qadaffi or something.

Also, please remember that while anime and gaming are both subsets of nerddom, the overlap is NOT as high as you might think. Being an ex-anime geek and a gamer, I know that the vast majority of gamers in my sphere of friends are not at all conversant with anime tropes. And for the most part, anime tropes don’t translate well to Western culture. So the whole Tali = moe? I’m not buying it. Especially not when you consider the Tali you encounter in Mass Effect 2:

In Mass Effect 2, Tali has outgrown the uncertain, sheltered worldview that she had in the first game. She is a competent, confident leader in her own right. During her recruitment mission, almost her entire team dies helping her to accomplish the objectives set out by the Quarian Admiralty Board. But rather than beating herself up, the only moment of regret that Tali evinces is when she says that she hopes that the data she obtains was worth the loss of life. At no point does Tali beat herself up, at no point does Tali whine that she made mistakes, or that this is proof that she shouldn’t have lead the mission. She doesn’t question her skills, and she doesn’t second-guess herself. Tali’s team members willingly die for her, which establishes her as the kind of leader people trust enough to sacrifice themselves to preserve.

That sort of quality isn’t common. Miranda outright says that she doesn’t have it, and Samara often talks about how she’s used to working alone. So the fact that Tali is someone who can command that sort of loyalty from her own people gives her extra dimension and makes her a very excellent female character.

(I lied a little) The romance with Garrus

Okay, I lied a little when I said this was non-FemShep related win. So I’ll keep this part brief. In my Renegade playthrough, I had intended to romance Jacob, but he is apparently super-difficult to romance and something went wrong. So I wound up romancing Garrus, since I decided my FemShep would be more likely to trust someone she knew from before.

Anyhow, I found the romance with Garrus to be very cool because it was a nice reversal of typical romance gender roles. Shepard, being Shepard, was of course very smooth, very confident, very self-assured. And Garrus was, endearingly, unbelievably awkward in his responses.

It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen much in typical romance stories. Pretty much every romance comedy ever has arrogant or very self-assured male characters romancing nervous, insecure, or outright neurotic female characters. So seeing the tables turned was cool, and very, very funny. Yet another instance of good writing on BioWare’s part too, since I’ll admit that I was reluctant to romance a non-human, but in the end it wound up feeling very genuine.

And that’s enough of that.

I promise that now that I’m done rambling about Mass Effect that I’ll move on to other topics.

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

95 Responses to Mass Effect Win: Awesome things that aren’t FemShep

  1. Ikkin says:

    I think the “moe” thing is less about following the anime trope to a T and more about that “endearing awkwardness” you described Garrus as having. From what I understand, Tali is somewhat similar to Garrus in that sense if she’s chosen as the romance option.

    I’ll admit that it’s a lot harder to criticize if you realize you like the genderswapped/male equivalent, though.

    • Justin says:

      Yeah, I believe that the main complaint was the whole awkwardness thing. To which I simply say that one female out of 4 or 5 (can you romance Samara? I don’t know. I backed her daughter) being awkward doesn’t sound like fanboy pandering to me, it sounds like a representation of reality. Some girls are shy. Some get flustered when flirted with. I think having one shy romance option is logical.

      I’m sad that you didn’t get Kasumi, I’d liked to have heard your opinions on her and her mission. And I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve liked the brief focus on Mass Effect; it got me interested again, and I started yet another playthrough on Mass Effect 1, to play all the way through to the end of 2.

      • Hirvox says:

        You can try to romance Samara, but she rebuffs you because she is a loner and doesn’t want to create any more Ardat-Yakshi. Morinth has no such reservations.

  2. Pingback: Roundup of Unusual Size: And then Dan Cook was the Roger Ebert of games criticism. « Dire Critic

  3. Jumplion says:

    Two things stuck out for me here;

    It was something straight out of a comedy action film, and I found it especially cool while playing FemShep since it’s the sort of banter you associate with either Male-Male or Male-Female action heroes. Certainly not the kind of dialogue you’d expect out of two women.

    See, as far as I know, we have never seen (in video games, at least) two women talking about whatever women talk about. It is always two men talking about the next hit they’ve got, or the problems of society and whatnot. Maybe a woman is talking to the man as well, but we hardly see two women talking. I, for one, would find it interesting to see two female characters fleshed out to where they do not talk just like two guys, but as two companions and, yes, as two women.

    This only further enforces my opinion that FemShep is just ManShep in a different skin. I still can’t see her as a good character when in many situations, as the one you’ve stated, she is just saying what ManShep would say.

    Here’s the thing. In the first Mass Effect, Tali is definitely a bit naive, and certainly displays signs of having been sheltered. But when you think about Tali’s background, having been raised in an isolationist environment as part of the Quarian Migrant Fleet, her actions in the first game are very much consistent with the logic of her background.

    So only now do you bring in context and background to prove your point. What about the whole background info on the Krogan genophage genocide? While I won’t go into too much detail on my thoughts on the genophage stuff (I’ve already stated my opinion on that), it seems that you will only accept evidence that puts women in a dominant perspective and thus interpret any evidence to go along that.

    While I know you’ve said you have no problem with “showing the emotional side”, like with Miranda’s loyalty mission, if we want better female characters we’re going to need to ask for all kinds of characters, not just the stronger, independent ones.

    I have a legitimate question, though; are there any female characters that you feel are done well (well developed, characterized, etc…) that are also portrayed as submissive towards others? Not like “slave girl” submissive, but like, I dunno, Tali shy when she’s talking with Shepard?

    • Ikkin says:

      So only now do you bring in context and background to prove your point. What about the whole background info on the Krogan genophage genocide?

      The genophage background info isn’t really analogous to Tali’s background, considering that it becomes the sole definition of who the Krogan women are, instead of merely providing an influence on an individual’s behavior. It’s clear from Wundergeek’s description that Tali has grown past her background in a lot of ways, even if it still affects her in others — it’s a much more complicated situation than the one with the Krogans.

    • wundergeek says:

      it seems that you will only accept evidence that puts women in a dominant perspective and thus interpret any evidence to go along that

      …what? Um. No. Just… no. You’re comparing apples and sledgehammers here.

      Okay. So – the devs didn’t want to or didn’t have the resources to make two models for each race. Fine. So the writers came up with reasons to justify that lack of diversity, the genophage being one of them. The history didn’t create itself – it was created by a team of writers. And in the case of the genophage, the team of writers chose to create a situation in which Krogan women never leave the homeworld and are nothing more than baby-making factories so that they could explain away the DEVELOPMENT ISSUE of not having more than one model per race.

      • Jumplion says:

        It’s just that all of your examples of good females characters, in the ME universe at least, show somewhat dominant characteristics. I haven’t seen an example of a character that retains her femininity while also being a badass, they’ve all just been….badass, and while that’s perfectly fine to some extent I can’t shake the feeling that if the character is just badass and in charge, that may very well be a good character (depending on the how they’re characterized), but I don’t think that makes them a good female (or even male) character.

        I’m not saying that good female characters should just show their “softer” more emotion side or whatever, there are plenty of ways you can show femininity without resorting to submissiveness (Samus pre-Other M), but with most of your examples it seems like they’re just the “badass”.

        I’m probably ranting and off-topic, but I do have a different thought of what a “good” character is that I suppose I just don’t agree with.

        • Hirvox says:

          I’m not saying that good female characters should just show their “softer” more emotion side or whatever, there are plenty of ways you can show femininity without resorting to submissiveness (Samus pre-Other M), but with most of your examples it seems like they’re just the “badass”.

          What about Kasumi then? Sure, she’s a master thief and thus can hold her ground just like any other member of Shepard’s team, but she’s also one of the most compassionate and emotionally observant members of the cast. She and Kelly are the only ones that can tell the difference between Samara and Morinth.

          • Jumplion says:

            Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get any of the DLCs in Mass Effect, so I’ll just have to take your word on that.

          • Jumplion says:

            Ah, but as for Kelly, I did like her as a character though she did seem a bit too preppy at times. She does expand on her femininity without resorting to complete badass, and I always did enjoy our flirting. If Tali wasn’t an option I wouldn’t be surprised if I went for Kelly, I did like her character overall.

      • Jumplion says:

        Ah, and also on the whole “the writers wrote this stuff” thing, sometimes cuts must be made. That being said, while the genophage is a large aspect of the Mass Effect story it hardly explains why there are less female Krogans shown in the ME Universe. If anything, it shows laziness in development style, not sexist writing styles (though with such a big game like Mass Effect 2, some discrepancies in development could be passed, though would it have killed them to show off a few more female Krogans aside from that one Krogan?). I doubt BioWare really took the position of women into consideration when making it, and it could be interpreted as either subconscious sexism or just cop-out laziness or something. I just think that your claims that the genophage is somehow just reducing female characters to slaves or whatever is moot considering that they were barely taken into consideration at all (which is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it).

        • LilithXIV says:

          Yes, sometimes cut must be made. Weird how it’s always the women who are cut, guess they don’t matter as much (yes, that is the implication games that talk about cutting female characters give). Definitely a bad thing. Anyway, I already mentioned that whether intentional or not, it does not negate the /result/. The result was that the women were reduced to slaves, that this was lazily thrown in doesn’t make it /less/ bad, that considered the women so little compared to the men does not make it less bad either.

          Yes, unconscious discrimination and marginalization does exist, but that still needs to be called out. In fact, even more does that need to be called out, because of the very fact you’re unaware of it and may indulge in the same behavior again if it’s not pointed out. I’m not condemning Bioware here, but unintended or not they do need to be made aware of this and how, as a whole, this game’s world-building treated women pretty badly and generally as an afterthought.

          • Jumplion says:

            Fair enough, unconscious sexism and whatnot is still bad. I guess I just can’t really bring myself to call BioWare out since they’re at least trying to present a decent story with strong, overall characters whereas most developers slap on a story and push in a female character because “Hur, they’ll like boobs!”. They at least put more thought into their stories and, who knows, maybe they thought of the whole genophage thing as a commentary on women’s status (so long as you can prove it with tangible evidence, hey, why not).

            But, at the same time, I do get frustrated that they fall into cliches (paragon/renegade system is utterly pointless, the game would be 10x better if it were completely removed and left the choices intact, and, yes, Miranda/Samara fall into these traps). You could argue that since they put so much effort into the story, unlike other developers, then they should exceed expectations and whatnot.

    • depizan says:

      This only further enforces my opinion that FemShep is just ManShep in a different skin. I still can’t see her as a good character when in many situations, as the one you’ve stated, she is just saying what ManShep would say.

      Or, if you play as ManShep, he just says what FemShep would say. I know you’re trying to critique that the designers saw the character as male first and tacked on the female options, but your criticisms have a tendency to sound (at least to me) rather like you, too, see male as default. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what you intend.

      Though, this two women talking about whatever women talk about. It is always two men talking about the next hit they’ve got, or the problems of society and whatnot. makes me think you really are into gender essentialism. Last I knew women do talk about the problems of society and, if they were hitwomen, I’m pretty sure they’d talk about the next hit they had. Women are not strange, mysterious creatures who have nothing in common with men.

      • Jumplion says:

        I know you’re trying to critique that the designers saw the character as male first and tacked on the female options, but your criticisms have a tendency to sound (at least to me) rather like you, too, see male as default. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what you intend.

        To an extent I suppose I do, I am a man after all. They’re both interchangable, really, and while Shepard as a character may be considered a “good” character by some, I have a hard time believing that either ManShep or FemShep are good male/female characters respectively.

        Last I knew women do talk about the problems of society and, if they were hitwomen, I’m pretty sure they’d talk about the next hit they had. Women are not strange, mysterious creatures who have nothing in common with men.

        See, if that were the case I would say that the two women may very well be good characters, but not good female ones as they are just saying the same things men are talking. I would not consider the two men in the same scenario as good male characters, possibly good characters in general though, and at that point gender has nothing to do with it.

        The way I see good characters is that when you add a descriptor behind the word “character” that aspect should be central to that character. This applies to good male characters, good female characters, good homosexual characters, good black characters, good asian characters, good indian characters, good alien characters, you name it. The character may coincidentally be (fe)male/homosexual/racial but rarely are they ever a good (fe)male/homosexual/racial character.

        Now, do not confuse what I’m saying to be “central” to the character as if that’s all the character should be about. A part of a good black/female/alien character could be his indifference towards his or anyone else’s own race/gender/difference in species, though that falls into slippery territory over if the character is good or not (for me, anyways).

        We need good characters. Once we have good characters in general, then I think we can start going into the more specifics. In Mass Effect, while I can agree to an extent that Samara is a good female character, I don’t quite see it that way with Tali as there were other male Quarians that could easily replace her (still loved Tali, great character in her own right).

        I hope I cleared my opinion on the subject. No doubt some of you may hold grievances towards it, but I think there has to be a difference between just having a good character (maybe Alyx Vance?) to a good female one (I strongly believe Samus is one).

        • wundergeek says:

          Okay. I honestly don’t know how to continue this conversation with you since we seem to have zero common ground and you seem to be keen to make all kinds of assumptions about me that involve me somehow being a man-hater. And no, I don’t think your points have been well clarified, since pretty much everything you’re saying reeks of gender-essentialism.

          • Jumplion says:

            …you seem to be keen to make all kinds of assumptions about me that involve me somehow being a man-hater.
            -Not really a “man-hater”, I read these posts as more of a “woman-lover” I guess, if that makes any sense whatsoever (and it probably doesn’t). I do apologize if I’m coming off as patronizing, I’m not trying to really “assume” anything about you, this is just the vibe that I’ve been getting from some of these posts.

            since pretty much everything you’re saying reeks of gender-essentialism.
            -I don’t see how what I said was specifically gender-essentialism as I said the same thing for everything, not just gender, which makes me feel like you’re trying to pin me down as a “woman-hater”.

            After looking up what “essentialism” is, though, I guess to an extent you could say I am. There are differences that separate men and women, whites and blacks, humans and aliens, either from their nature of from being nurtured by their environment that could certainly be used to create interesting characters. A good character could be a (wo)man who rises up from the slums to become an entrepreneur. A good black character could be said (wo)man rising from the slums to become a prominent figure in the business world, dealing with his hardships. Maybe what I said was incredibly racist, I really have no idea, but I would be pretty interested to see a character played out like that, black or not. If you want a good [anything] character, don’t make that character just coincidentally that [anything]. It’s just a cop-out, a token character in some cases.

            I dunno, I’m probably offending some people right now and that’s certainly their right. I will admit I’m ignorant of the concept of “essentialism” that was brought up, so maybe there’s some hidden meaning behind all this that I’m subconsciously gave. I’ll shut up right now anyway, so if you want me gone from here, I’ll just leave and I won’t come back. I don’t really care either way.

            • LilithXIV says:

              “There are differences that separate men and women, whites and blacks”

              Yet there are vastly more similarities than differences. And most of the ‘differences’ are exaggerated into social constructs and stereotypes.

              “If you want a good [anything] character, don’t make that character just coincidentally that [anything]. It’s just a cop-out, a token character in some cases.”

              No, it’s not. Things are hardly, if ever, so black and white. It’s not one or the other, but you keep framing it as if it is. Some would accuse your implications of a ‘good’ marginalized member character tokenism or that they have to be walking aesops to be ‘good’. Some people don’t want to be defined by that stuff, given they are defined by that everyday in their friggin lives, and there is nothing wrong with that.

              • Jumplion says:

                Some would accuse your implications of a ‘good’ marginalized member character tokenism or that they have to be walking aesops to be ‘good’.
                -Oh of course, this is all purely my opinion on what would make a good character that anyone is completely free to agree or disagree with. You are absolutely right that when done wrong, my concept of a “good” character could easily slip into tokenism. Building deep, complex characters isn’t easy, after all.

                Some people don’t want to be defined by that stuff, given they are defined by that everyday in their friggin lives, and there is nothing wrong with that.
                -And I find those definitions interesting. Books and films address these kinds of definitions all the time, at least the good ones do, and we’d be missing a huge opportunity with video games if we ignored that portion of potential story ideas. I’m not saying that the [anything] character must be completely about that [anything], but it could easily be used as a way to expand on the character.

                I dunno, I’m just sort of interested to see developers step out of the comfort zone when creating any character in general. Again, this is all purely my opinion, and in a way this may be a sign of style that I’ve personally developed when I make stories (I prefer exaggerating different aspects of characters/settings and whatnot) going into my thought process.

                Either way, eh. We just need better characters, simple as that. There are multiple roads to the same destination, after all.

            • depizan says:

              If you want a good [anything] character, don’t make that character just coincidentally that [anything]. It’s just a cop-out, a token character in some cases.

              The problem is, out here in real life, people are coincidentally [anything]. Yes, some women face problems that are specific to their being a woman and some men face problems that are specific to their being a man. To say that a character is only a good female/male character if they face problems specific to their gender is… kind of insulting to people in the real world whose lives aren’t so narrow. And do you really hold male characters to this? They aren’t a good male character if they don’t…er… face prostate cancer or some other guy-only thing? (Thanks to a world that treats male as default, it is really darn hard to think of a guy only problem.)

              • Jumplion says:

                To say that a character is only a good female/male character if they face problems specific to their gender is… kind of insulting to people in the real world whose lives aren’t so narrow.

                Good point, but as I have repeatedly stated before I don’t think that the [anything] aspect must be the only aspect that is being developed. It’s just a single aspect, one that I think could provide a goldmine of character/story development ideas.

                And do you really hold male characters to this? They aren’t a good male character if they don’t…er… face prostate cancer or some other guy-only thing?

                Hilarious flaw in my system, I applaud you pointing that out.

                It’s a problem because, as many have stated before, men are generally treated as the blank slate for many story ideas. It’s hard to point out a character where his being a “man” matters because they’ve become so commonplace that any character that’s a man is just a standard character. Sad, but unfortunately true.

                Nonetheless, I bet a game idea where a man is going for his first ever prostate exam could make for some…interesting, yet hilarious results.

            • wundergeek says:

              See, I’m not going to say that there are no differences that are strictly biological between men and women, because that would be insane. HOWEVER, there’s at least a little science out there that supports me in my view that biological gender differences are heavily exaggerated by societal conditioning. Things that we take for granted as “feminine” are not always the same as things taken for granted as feminine in another culture.

              And honestly, my intent wasn’t to tell you to be quiet. I was frustrated because I don’t know how to converse with someone who assumes that I want women to come first in all things. A lot of anti-feminists claim that feminists don’t really want equality, that we want superiority, and that’s not true. Still, a lot of what I am pushing for IS women in dominant positions, just because we need more of them for things to be more balanced. But that’s not the same thing as saying that all characters in charge should be women.

              • Lawrence says:

                When put this way it’s perfectly understandable and easy to agree on, but for example your critique of male Shepard is definitely more based on clear bias then anything else. Saying this I think your bias is just perfectly justified given general video game circumstances imo but for the some integrity it should be stated upfront. For example I totally biased towards ME for its US/Canada centrism which is just sickening, so now Bioware announced that ME3 will have some action on Earth in Seattle/Vancouver metropolis, now this is just vile “hahaha Fuck you” to the rest of the world…

  4. N says:

    “I promise that now that I’m done rambling about Mass Effect that I’ll move on to other topics.”

    Like Pen & Paper table top games? ^_^

    • wundergeek says:

      Maybe? Sadly, my gaming group has fallen apart, and I tend to stick to indie games anyhow so I’m not too well informed of what the big players like Wizards or Paizo are up to.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        I feel your pain. Our group was supposed to have a REIGN campaign , but we have never had more than two people able to make the session every time we’ve tried for the last two months.

        And don’t worry about not knowing what the big companies are up to No one I know plays D&D anymore; there’s nothing to do in D&D that can’t be done better in an MMO, so the only stuff left to play are things that cannot be digitalized. Good luck to those poor bastards trying with Bliss Stage, though.

  5. Meh says:

    Concerning Tela, “rogue agent” is what all rogue Spectres are called. It’s what they called Saren in ME1, and I’m pretty sure they never called him a terrorist either.

    Also, the way you reacted to Garrus’ awkwardness and clumsiness is pretty much how moe fans react to Tali. Actually, I’ve seen people saying Garrus is moe, too. So I guess you think Garrus is moe.

    • wundergeek says:

      No. Moe is cute AND awkward AND female. And also, just because I’m conversant with anime tropes doesn’t mean that I expect Western-produced content to conform to Japanese cultural standards. Trying to apply anime tropes to stuff that isn’t anime is counterproductive.

      • Meh says:

        There’s nothing that says moe can only refer to females. And even if there was, the term has changed so that it now includes males. The vulnerability thing is far from restricted to females.

        I only brought it up because you mentioned it in regards to Tali. The moe fanboys you mentioned exist for Garrus, too. Similar to how the moe fanboys like Tali’s perceived vulnerability, cuteness and awkwardness, the Garrus fans often like Garrus because of how cute, awkward and vulnerable he (supposedly) becomes during a romance. That seems pretty similar to why you liked Garrus’ romance.

        • LilithXIV says:

          There’s nothing that says moe can only refer to females. – Years and years and years of anime fandom disagree. And even if it /now/ includes males doesn’t mean it’s still not pretty surprising (and actually quite subversive) to see that applied to a man in this game, an american game.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            Subversive. Really, Lilith? Do you watch anime? Not trying to start anything; Honest question here because:

            1. Axis Powers Hetalia is a huge thing that is nothing but moe.

            2. TVTropes describes the male main character of the 100+ episode shounen series D.Gray-Man as “A Moe Cute Shotaro Boy who turns into a Badass Adorable Bishonen, Nice Guy, Iron Woobie, cool scars, looks amazing in uniform, White-Haired Pretty Boy, Badass Longcoat, and occasionally shirtless and/or wrapped up in bandages.” (And the manga was written by a woman, in case we have to go over that asinine ‘focus on the author’ red herring again.)

            3. Keeping with TVtropes, the male main character of Negima is described as “Being such a textbook example of a female-oriented moe stock character probably does justify his position at the centre of an Unwanted Harem.”

            4. Many more, which I cannot elaborate on without making this post longer than you have time to read.

            If you want to argue that Negima or Hetalia is subversive for doing this, go right ahead. (I very much doubt the possibility of it, but hell, NDP became the Canadian opposition and bin Laden got killed, so this seems a month for miracles.)

            • LilithXIV says:

              American game. Read with your eyes. I was more elaborating on the fact that I don’t see many moe types in american stuff. Also.. Tv Tropes as a source, really?

              • Hazmat Sam says:

                “American game. Read with your eyes. I was more elaborating on the fact that I don’t see many moe types in american stuff. ”

                Check me and Ikkin below. “American stuff” was imitating anime for the last decade, and it’s still going strong in Livejournal, deviantART, the not-so-great majority of webcomics, asnd yes, TVTropes Anyone on the Internet should be familiar with anime tropes. This ‘but that’s for Japan not here’ attitude is hilariously parochial.

                Also, if you have a more complete index of narrative devices and consumer responses to media, tell me. I’m quite interested to know.

              • LilithXIV says:

                It was imitating it because you say so? Okay, sure. I don’t care about fanart to be honest, I should have been more specific though so that’s my fault, I’m talking mainstream american created moe characters.

                And yeah Tv Tropes is not a source of proof. That place mis-labels all the time. And no thanks for getting you another, I’d rather not waste my time. It’s up to you to realize that Tv Tropes isn’t gospel though.

              • Ikkin says:

                I’m actually going to have to back Sam up on the “American media is influenced by anime” thing. I don’t think it’s exactly controversial to suggest that there’s been a great deal of cultural cross-pollination in the last decade. There are a number of really blatant examples within the realms of animation and sci-fi/fantasy — animesque cartoons, anime sequences in Kill Bill and The Animatrix, geek culture movies like Scott Pilgrim — that make it virtually impossible to argue that anime hasn’t influenced Western media. The influence on the mainstream is more subtle, but I’ll eat my hat if NCIS’ Abby Sciuto isn’t at least somewhat influenced by anime tropes and the increase in male/male shipperbaiting I’ve noticed isn’t a response to yaoi fangirls increasing their sphere of influence.

                And, as I mentioned in my other comment (which Sam seems to have ignored in favor of making his own point), moe isn’t really all that unique in the whole scheme of things. It is, at the very least, strongly related to the Western archetype of The Ingenue, albeit taken to a greater extreme, so it would be very hard to argue that the character type is irrelevant to Western characters.

                On the other hand, you’re definitely right about there not being all too many moe/Ingenue-type guys in modern Western fiction. I don’t think you’d have much trouble arguing that Garrus is subversive as a Western character, because Western male characters have an awful lot of restrictions that anime/anime-inspired male characters don’t.

          • Meh says:

            I never said it wasn’t surprising to see a male character that can be classified as moe in a “w”rpg. I merely pointed out an observation, that the fandoms for Tali romancers and Garrus romancers share many similarities. Argh, why such hostility about this?

      • Ikkin says:

        Whether moe itself is a product of Japanese cultural standards or not, I don’t think it’s difficult to argue that there are some more universal aspects to its appeal. Neither the irrational desire to give vulnerable and awkward characters big squishy hugs nor the fetishization of innocence and helplessness it can mutate into are exclusive to Japan — it’s very easy to find examples of both in Western culture long before anime found its way over here.

        So I think those parts, at least, are relevant to Mass Effect, even if it is an American game. To which of those instincts are Garrus and Tali supposed to appeal? And, if Garrus is meant to appeal to the former, does that mean Tali is, too?

        • Hazmat Sam says:

          Nail on the head there. Fuck, we discount anime from anything that isn’t and we lose a good shunk of webcomics, 90% of deviantART, the majority of the last decade’s wesertn cartoons, and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guid. (TVTropes quote: “A Nickelodeon post modern live-action series with No Fourth Wall and no Laugh Track set entirely in a Middle School full of Anime Tropes.“)

          Sometimes I wonder if the rest of you people are solipsists or something.

          • wundergeek says:

            Sam, if the rest of us are so intellectually beneath you, why do you continue commenting here?

            • Justin says:

              He gots to edumacate us plebians. He gonna smarten us up but good.

            • Hazmat Sam says:

              You’re not. You are a very gifted artist, and many here are clever people, but you’re all so very insular. ‘this anime thing never leaked into western media’ is simply the height of that.

              I’m very blunt and you don’t censor comments. It’s got nothing to do with intelligence, otherwise I would’ve said so. (Side note: It’s very revealing about you that you insist that everything must have a sinister obscure meaning, unless you like it, of course)

              • LilithXIV says:

                It’s very revealing of you that you don’t see how obnoxious and demeaning you are with the way you phrase things and that others have reacted the same way. It’s almost like you’re a pompous ass.

              • wundergeek says:

                Yeah, it’s very revealing how my blog reflects my personal biases. It’s almost like I’m expressing my opinions or something.

  6. anison says:

    Since you refuse to play MaleShep, have you at least watched video of Tali’s romance? Because that’s where the whole thing falls apart, and it sounds like you haven’t done the research.

    Tali is badass, no one is debating that. But as soon as Shep starts flirting with her, she becomes a stammering pile of goo. She is utterly bewildered that Shep could return the affection she has (retroactively?) had for him since the first game, expresses a lot of insecurity about her envirosuit, and generally comes across as a nervous teenage virgin. Which, I’d like to stress, is not bad. It’s a very valid character type, and a nice departure from the usual sex kittens. But it is still a calculated “type” designed to appeal to a subset of players as a romance option, just like Miranda and Jack are. She may not be traditionally sexualized, but she is still set up to be appealing to men–in exactly the same way that Liara is set up to be appealing in the first game, particularly the conversation awkwardness (remember how Liara was always beating herself up about things she said that came out wrong? Tali does pretty much the exact same thing during romance conversations).

    I’d be able to ignore all this, and in fact I did ignore it for a long time, but BioWare keeps making female romance options with those traits. It’s not a coincidence.

    • wundergeek says:

      I’ll admit that I honestly don’t know why that bothers people. BioWare puts that type into games because it’s true to life. It might bother me if that type was restricted to female characters, but it’s not! Garrus is totally awkward, and in Dragon Age: Origins, Alastair is even more so. BioWare’s romance options have always covered the gamut of different romance types pretty well.

      • anison says:

        Because I find it a little creepy that the stammering young virgin girl character type is attractive to enough of the geek population to repeat it in multiple triple-A mainstream releases? Because there’s a kind of implied power imbalance between the PC, who’s always confident and experienced, and the female LI, who is naive and desperate for the PC’s approval? Because in context with other female LIs it’s like watching a weird virgin-whore dichotomy play out for the benefit of a male viewer? Because in Tali’s case it feels like they took a character who was awesome in her own right and wrecked her in the name of making her sexually available?

        I don’t know, honestly. (That probably sounds sarcastic after my little tirade, but it’s not meant to be.) I do know it’s not just me, because I’ve heard from a whole bunch of people who are simply unable to play romances with Tali or characters like her because it grosses them out.

        Yes, Garrus is awkward and it’s adorable, but he still comes to FemShep sexually experienced and with mutual respect. Tali comes to MaleShep awed that he could ever see beyond her faceplate (that’s almost a direct quote, btw) to be interested in her and with what comes off as sickeningly one-sided adoration.

        Alistair is an interesting case… I can’t think of any other adult male game characters who are explicitly stated to be virgins–not off the top of my head, at least. He gets pretty starry-eyed and gooey over the PC, but he’s not part of a repeating pattern like Tali is. I need to think more about how I feel about him, because honestly I mostly ignored him.

    • OUT51D3R says:

      I see the “This character is clearly designed to be sexually appealing to subset x of men” thing come up alot here, and I think it’s really reaching at times(Tali is definitely one of those cases). You can name pretty much any single personality trait or physical characteristic that a woman has ever had, and if you look hard enough, you will find a subset of men that finds it sexually attractive. If you keep looking for “what obscure group is this character trying to sexually pander to?”, you’ll probably always find something, and won’t be happy with any female character ever.

      • LilithXIV says:

        Well, I can see your point of course. Though I think you should keep in mind that given the majority of the industry focuses on sexually exploiting women at constant rate.. you can’t blame others for being on edge really. For Tali.. uh, I don’t know, I think it’s one of those complex sort of cases that I’m finding it hard to form an opinion on yeah.

        • OUT51D3R says:

          Here’s the thing: pretty much all of the ME2 characters are sexualized to some degree, in order to facilitate romance with Shepherd. This is true of both the male and female characters.

          The question shouldn’t really be “Is character X sexualized?”, because the answer in the case of ME2 is probably going to be yes. The question should be something more like “Is this character only in the game for purposes of sexual titillation?” I think the answer to that in Tali’s case(and probably Jack’s as well, despite her ridiculous clothing) is no.

          I think the only characters you could successfully make that argument for are Miranda and Morinth. The game goes through great efforts to point out their sexuality. I’m not sure how much of a problem that is to me. IMO, the existence of sexualized female characters is okay when two things are true: 1) there are female characters that aren’t so highly sexualized and 2) there are male characters that are equally as sexualized. ME2 passes the first test, but fails the second. It’s not perfect, but definitely ahead of other games, which usually fail both tests.

          • LilithXIV says:

            “Is this character only in the game for purposes of sexual titillation?”

            This question doesn’t work by itself. Just because a character has a place in a plot doesn’t change the fact that they’re sexualized in various ways, and if it’s made a big focus or emphasized on enough (like say Bayonetta) then that character /is/ being made a sex object. The sexualization was still the focus, instead of the only thing present.

            For example: Yeah, Ivy from Soul Calibur 4 had a great story.. and? That doesn’t change the fact she’s a fetishy sexploitaton character.

            • OUT51D3R says:

              Ivy is clearly there to be eye candy. Her sexual attributes are blatantly inflated and put on display. The story is just tacked on, whether it’s good or not.

              Characters like Tali, Chun Li, or Vanille though are different. Though they may or may not have some sex appeal, I really don’t believe they are thrown into the game because of their sex appeal. Sex appeal is a relatively small part of their character.

              Until you get marketing involved, of course. Advertisers are basically scum. They will turn anything they can into smut in order to boost sales. I basically view marketing as inherently evil, and a seperate issue from female character design. The way female characters are treated in advertising is often WAY worse than they are treated in the actual games, IMO.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        We cannot know what purpose a character was designed for without explicit authorial statements, and even then, the character might very well resonate with the audience (the only people who matter from the sociological perspective we’re trying to take) for entirely different reasons. The only way to estimate what is actually happening is studying the consumers, (which is why I arrive at the Tali=moe conclusion: because RPG players have significant overlap with anime fans, because every single part of the character design resonates with moe fans, and because the moe fans are the vast majority of people who like her, dev team be damned) and the people here are reluctant because that entails that you don’t bitch at the authors because they don’t matter, and that you have to do actual statistics, or at least observation of the faceless masses. Neither of these are appealing prospects to this sort of clique, so back to arbitrary judgment over whether this character here is a sex object or not. For instance, Chun-Li is objectified, apparently, even though her fans are overwhelmingly attracted to her because of her muscles , and “sexy cause of muscles” was defended as not-objectification by these same people when it came to superheroes. See? Completely arbitrary.

        So yes, that would be the logical conclusion to this blog if rigor were applied, but if we admit that then then we have to admit that all characters are sexualized and that you must judge sexuality on aesthetic rather than moral grounds, something that even our artist feels unclean about doing for some reason. The last time it came up, the consensus (which I was totally mocking, full disclosure) postulated the kludge that pandering only counts if it is “obvious” (direct quote, not straw-manning here).

        This is useful rhetoric, because “obvious” is entirely subjective, and allows you to excuse all sorts of sins against your religions, whatever they are. So, our blog author has a thing for Tali, for example, and it would not do for her to buy into a character whose entire existence is for the sake of that moe thing. Various arguments are thus constructed: that Tali is not moe because she totally kicks ass, (despite “ass kicker with a vulnerable side” being the explicit complaint against Miranda) that she’s not moe because no one outside her fanclub knows what that is and thus not obvious, (ignoring the fact that her fanclub is the majority of male!shep players) and inevitably, when all else fails, the inevitable retreat of the losers to ‘that’s just your opinion’ land.

        I’m not sure whether this is intentional (heh) or not, but I hope it is because I admire the people here quite a lot, and I’ve already had an entire University department disappoint me today. Either way:

        “Conscious hypocrisy is therefore a sign of strength, or at least of cunning, which is a form of strength, an attempt to find a way forward even when all the more direct paths appear blocked, by manipulating the brain structures of the life-forms that stand in one’s way — a form of psychic aggression, a kind of mental violence — whilst unconscious deception is above all self-deception, since it ultimately deceives the deceiver to a far greater extent than the deceived, thereby, in the long run, contributing to rendering him far more stupid”

        • OUT51D3R says:

          I have a pretty hard time seeing Chun Li as a character deliberately designed for objectification. Do some people objectify her? Sure. Was she designed for that though? I doubt it. Same for Tali and Vanille.

          Every female character will be objectified by somebody. It’s often not the intent or fault of the artist/writer/designer, but the results of a deeper cultural problem. I think placing negative judgements on characters like Chun/Tali/Vanille(and the artists/writers/designers that created them) because a certain type of fan objectifies them is misguided.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            Okay, but see, I’m agreeing with you. (I think. I’ve been on prescription painkillers from the Dental work for like a day now) The thing is that the Chun Li thing is an actual blog post here, so it’s not really me you have to convince.

            My position is that everything is sexualized as sexuality is literally fundamental to human perception (and before you say it, even asexuality is a sexual stance, much like atheism is a religious stance. Trust me, I know.). The larger the amount of a thing that appeals to it’s fans in a sexual manner, the more sexualized it is. The author’s intentions are neither relevant or knowable, true, (they could always just lie, as Mr. “Fahrenheit 451 is about television” Bradbury demonstrates) but consider this: A character that checks off every single box in a particular list without any marks on another and is cloned with mechanical precision (Merril in DA2) seems unlikely as coincidence, does it not?

            No one’s saying that Harry Potter is gay porn because that’s what the entirety of fanfiction.net uses it as, but it would be mighty suspicious if every use for it was, in fact, gay porn. Likewise, if you can find anything at all about Tali that doesn’t heighten the moe in some manner, then go ahead.

            (In regards to scorning characters, there’s also the “moe is terrible aesthetic that makes for terrible characters” factor to consider, but that’s off topic in this discussion)

            • LilithXIV says:

              “The author’s intentions are neither relevant or knowable, true”

              Yay, no responsibility for them or their reinforcement of the perception of ‘women as there to sexually service and be eye candy for men’ (yeah, jiggle physics could’ve been an entirely /benign/ intent). No need for them to respect women or anything either, they just /have/ to sexualize them of course because the male gaze /must/ be applied in an entirely one-sided and dehumanizing degree. Invisible gun to their head by audience, it’s someone else’s fault, blahblahblahblah.

              Wow, that’ll totally be productive. By the way, that was sarcasm. Do you not get why this is ultimately meaningless to apply? Your black and white generalizations lead nowhere, they are literally a dead-end.

              • Hazmat Sam says:

                You’re still not getting it Lilith. You ascribe much more power to the creator than is sensible. The author doesn’t sexualize. The audience does. The same drawing of a large-breasted woman that would be masturbated to today would’ve gotten disgust from the male audience as early back as the Victorian era. (Seriously, it’s that recent of a thing) For all that we go on about context here, you seem to have a curiously trans-historical way of looking at this.

                And as to responsibility, if “my art is bad, therefore I should feel bad” isn’t something an artist believes in the first place, I very much doubt that any criticism at all could get through to them, and it wouldn’t be worthwhile even if it did. (observe Hollywood’s attempts at “feminism” if you doubt that)

              • LilithXIV says:

                I get it, Sam. I just don’t agree with you or accept it. Learn The Difference, thick one. “The author doesn’t sexualize.” – Bullshit. The audience certainly holds responsibility, but so does the creator. You say I ascribe ‘much more’ but you ascribe none at all.

                Again, that’s so much more productive. If your art is degrading to women and reduces them to sexual parts and you don’t think it’s worth changing.. because respecting women is oh-so hard, well you’re a woman-hater. Simple as that. If they really felt bad they would change, otherwise it’s just hollow and meaningless. Hollywood’s faux feminism isn’t a real attempt to change, it’s an insincere and half-hearted one. That means the message really never go through. So I’ll just keep calling them out on it and speaking for how it should change. Your argument is literally ‘no use trying’. It’s an argument for stagnation and no personal responsibility. You’re a dead end.

          • wundergeek says:

            Okay we’re getting off topic here, but Chun Li is very much designed to be objectified. Her anatomy is very much distorted, and every promo art of her ever emphasizes either her large thighs or her posterior. It’s largely the same with Vanille – the character designers can point and say “but it’s just a cultural costume”. But the fact remains that Vanille runs around with not much clothes on and her battle noises are frigging RIGHT OUT OF A PORN MOVIE.

            Mind, I’m agreeing with you about Tali. I just don’t want to lump her in with your other two examples.

            • Ikkin says:

              To be fair to Square-Enix, it’s quite possible that Vanille’s battle noises are as much down to her VA as they are to the voice director. Kingdom Hearts fans noticed that Jesse McCartney does something similar, and I doubt they would have done that intentionally. It seems more likely to me that they just don’t bother to correct VAs who make pain sound like… something else. >_>

            • Hazmat Sam says:

              See, that didn’t answer my observation: “Exaggerated muscles are not considered objectifying when we talk men, but are when we talk women.”

              The Vanille stuff is just a red herring.

              “Mind, I’m agreeing with you about Tali. I just don’t want to lump her in with your other two examples.”

              Of course, that’s because you like Tali and you don’t like those other characters. The use-value is the same, Tali’s merely a better character.

              • LilithXIV says:

                Seeing as men and women are not nearly objectified in the same way, your ‘observation’ is shallow and has no context. I already explained how Chun Li is sexualized in other ways (I really doubt her legs are even as heavily muscled as you seem to think they are).

                Saying Vanille’s orgasm/moaning noises are a red herring is kind of like that Anonymous who said something was ‘irrelevant’ because he had nothing substantial to say.

              • wundergeek says:

                Okay. I wrote a whole blog post about why muscles on men ARE NOT AND NEVER WILL BE THE SAME as the sexualization of women. I’m not going to rehash it in a comment box. Go here and read it.

              • Ikkin says:

                Wundergeek:

                I kind of think that Sam’s philosophical assumptions are so vastly different from our own that it’s almost impossible to discuss things with him. He’s taken a position that’s both self-consistent and extreme enough that we can’t really prove it wrong, and then uses it to deny the existence of morality and meaning, miring the conversation in the swamp of subjectivity.

                There’s no doubt in my mind that he isn’t really trying to defend sexist portrayals of women — in fact, they’re tangential to what he really wants to discuss. He just can’t stand the fact that we don’t buy into his disdain for the notion of non-scientific truth, and transforms every conversation into a debate about whether it’s possible to make art that doesn’t sexualize its subject or cause harm (because in his eyes, everything is sexualization, and everything harms somebody, and the only difference is whether the “right” people are being sexualized or harmed).

                I just can’t really see any point in continuing those conversations anymore. Without at least agreeing upon some assumptions, it’s impossible to discuss things on the same terms. When the assumptions being questioned are core tenants of our respective philosophies, any hope for a higher-level conversation is utterly lost. And at this point, I don’t think anyone but Sam wants to discuss things under his assumptions or continue this useless debate over the assumptions themselves. =/

                (I mean, I could continue the discussion about morality and meaning, but this just really doesn’t seem like the place for it, and I’d rather not continue to be so off-topic)

          • LilithXIV says:

            Every female character will be objectified by somebody. – Uh, yeah, this is really obvious. Should the people in charge of the original work be objectifying them though? No, they shouldn’t. Especially when it’s a clear double standard they don’t apply to the men. This is sexism. I’m not saying Tali or Vanille apply to this, but you’re speaking in general so I am doing the same.

            It’s often not the intent or fault of the artist/writer/designer – Except when they say ‘sex sells’ and pander to that cultural problem, perpetuating it and reinforcing it. No responsibility for the people in charge and blaming it all on the audience isn’t gonna get you anywhere.

            • OUT51D3R says:

              “No responsibility for the people in charge and blaming it all on the audience isn’t gonna get you anywhere.”

              Right, which is why I said “often” instead of “never”.

              When talking about Bayonetta, the cast of DOA, or Miranda, I put the blame on the artists/designers/writers. When talking about Tali, Chun Li, or Vanille though, I put the blame on the audience.

            • Hazmat Sam says:

              “Should the people in charge of the original work be objectifying them though?”

              They can’t. That’s what you don’t get. Art only occurs in the consumer.

              “No responsibility for the people in charge and blaming it all on the audience isn’t gonna get you anywhere.”

              Yes, if we just kill off those cartels no one will even do heroin again. Wait, wrong vice.

              • LilithXIV says:

                “They can’t. That’s what you don’t get. Art only occurs in the consumer.”

                Yes, and the artist can /never/ emphasize anything or be responsible for anything. Again, it’s not that I don’t get it, it’s that you’re wrong and I don’t agree with you. Keep up.

                “Yes, if we just kill off those cartels no one will even do heroin again. Wait, wrong vice.”

                Yes, let the cartels run free without restriction instead, that’ll help more! Your analogy is faulty, but thanks for helping my argument.

              • wundergeek says:

                For someone who claims to be all about intellectual rigor, that’s one hell of a straw man there.

        • “…and because the moe fans are the vast majority of people who like her, dev team be damned…”

          So, how exactly did you find this? Did you actually get real statistics on the overlap, or is this just you drawing a conclusion from a small sub group of total ME fans that you happened to run into.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            There’ve been polls on this stuff on the Bioware forums Give me a minute to see if I can dig some up.

            • Hazmat Sam says:

              And fuck me, WordPress ate my comment. But here’s the poll I was thinking of: [url]http://social.bioware.com/980362/polls/3585/[/url]

              Specifically, once you take femen who play male!shep (why would you do that? Seriously, why?) out of the ranking you get 40% of men favoring Tali, and this is significant; it is more than the percentage that elected my current government and twice the size of the runner up, Miranda. (Wait, one in five like Miranda? WHY)

              Just reading the comments on that poll should give you all the answer you need for my statement about why they like her, but if that’s not enough you can go check the rest of the Internet. (DeviantARt in particular. Any art of her that relates to her role as love interest is anime-esque moe glurge)

              • wundergeek says:

                I think the thing we’re not considering is the fact that Tali is the female choice who was a party member in the first game – there’s a history there that’s appealing that doesn’t exist with the other characters. Also, given a choice between Tali, Miranda, and Jack, if I was playing MaleShep I’d choose Tali every time! Miranda is an unappealing primadonna, and Jack is just plain fucked up.

              • Ikkin says:

                To add to what Wundergeek said, there’s also the possibility that some of the guys like romancing Tali because she’s not embarrassingly-naked or embarrassingly-supermodelesque. Just throwing that possibility out there.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            Okay, <A HREF="http://social.bioware.com/980362/polls/3585/"here we go

            Now, understand that I am so goddamn strung out from the dental surgery that I can’t really go into detail for a bit so just look at the poll numbers and remember that once you remove the women that play male!shep (fuck me if I know why!) from the data, the Tali devotees are ~43% and that means she has a higher voting count than my current government. And look at those comments. Ugh.

            Interesting note: Garrus only gets ~30% of female votes in the fem!shep poll. Fuck, I didn’t know any women liked anyone else.

            • cole92 says:

              Am I the only one who chose Thane as my first romance option? Thane > Garrus as a romance IMO. Maybe that’s where Garrus’ votes went?

              • wundergeek says:

                I wanted to be able to continue the romance in ME3 and I figured the likelihood of Thane being dead by then was high.

              • cole92 says:

                Thane has a large group of fangirls (and fanboys, depending on which way you roll), so you’d think BioWare would tread lightly on the issue of killing him off. If they do kill him off, I believe it would be optional, i.e. you make a choice such as with Kaiden or Ashley or must do a certain thing to save him, that sort of thing (which would actually make more sense story-wise). He’ll be in ME3, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I feel that Thane’s predicament adds more depth to the relationship ME2, and I hope that continues into ME3.

        • Ikkin says:

          For instance, Chun-Li is objectified, apparently, even though her fans are overwhelmingly attracted to her because of her muscles , and “sexy cause of muscles” was defended as not-objectification by these same people when it came to superheroes. See? Completely arbitrary.

          But superheroes — at least the male sort — aren’t “sexy ’cause of muscles.” They’re “awesome ’cause of muscles,” at least to the target audience (there’s probably some undefined minority of fans who are attracted to bodybuilder physiques, but they’re a periphery demographic and rather insignificant to the reason those characters look that way).

          Superman’s design facilitates identification and hero-worship. Chun-Li’s facilitates leering at her barely-covered legs.

          So yes, that would be the logical conclusion to this blog if rigor were applied, but if we admit that then then we have to admit that all characters are sexualized and that you must judge sexuality on aesthetic rather than moral grounds, something that even our artist feels unclean about doing for some reason.

          Because some forms of sexualization are morally repugnant. Unrestricted use of tropes that deny the agency of objects of lust are not mere artistic failures, but actions with potential moral consequences. Likewise, fetishizing non-sentients or children is morally-questionable, not just aesthetically-unappealing.

          (Moe is a… weird case, in this regard. As long as the characters are neither children nor actually helpless, their ability to draw empathy seems to be the main part of their appeal, which suggests that they’re at least intended to be taken as people rather than objects. On the other hand, the desire to protect such a character is often a paternalistic one, which can demean a character who — as a love interest — should be treated as an equal)

          The last time it came up, the consensus (which I was totally mocking, full disclosure) postulated the kludge that pandering only counts if it is “obvious” (direct quote, not straw-manning here).

          That is a failure of language, more than anything.

          The human brain is far superior in recognizing patterns than it is at explicating what comprises them. Sometimes, it’s impossible to say more than “I know it when I see it” — but that doesn’t mean the pattern itself is illegitimate, just that one doesn’t have the language to describe it.

          The vast majority of people would look at Chun-Li, then at Superman, and recognize that she’s meant to be sexy and he isn’t. It’s just far more expedient to say, “think for a minute, and you’ll know what I’m talking about” than to try to explain the thousand-and-one subtle (and often unconscious) factors that goes into that assessment.

        • LilithXIV says:

          “For instance, Chun-Li is objectified, apparently, even though her fans are overwhelmingly attracted to her because of her muscles , and “sexy cause of muscles” was defended as not-objectification by these same people when it came to superheroes. See? Completely arbitrary.”

          ‘Overwhelmingly’. Which is totally why she gets panty shots and crotch shots, and ass shots in ads for her, totally (SF4, for example). Now, if she was wearing /pants/.. but ass cleavage seems to be popular with people like Cammy around. And actually it’s not objectification for men to have muscles because, and stay with me here, men are /not/ objectified every which way in our damn society. Women are. Get it? Constantly, they have their bodies fetishized, constantly having to be the ones half or almost entirely naked, constantly the ones who have to hold up the ‘Sex Sells’ label. Think Context, Sam. There’s a Very obvious double standard going on with who gets regulated to being the hyper-sexualized cariacatures more often. I wish people would stop pretending men get the same treatment or to the same degree and that it’s ‘good enough’. And in the end, it’s not as simple as ‘objectified forever or not’, sometimes it can be multiple instances that come up.

          And I’m pretty sure last time the /actual/ consensus was ‘pandering only counts if you actually try’. And I’m pretty sure I pointed out exactly why having a guy with a slightly buttoned down shirt wasn’t trying hard enough. If you can’t read, which I’m starting to think so given your many misrepresentations of others and general lack of understanding when people point out you’re obnoxious behavior, then that’s unfortunate for you.

          • OUT51D3R says:

            Maybe part of the disconnect I’m having on Chun Li is that I formed my opinions on the character about 19 years ago. She didn’t seem that sexualized back then. Sure, you could see her legs, but you weren’t presented with butt/panty shots constantly(and as the character evolved, she was putting on more clothes rather than less), and game advertising hadn’t yet become as repugnant as it is now. At the time she seemed powerful, like she belonged in the fight with all those guys. She was a fighter, not eye candy.

            • LilithXIV says:

              Mm, I could see that then. I think have changed since then, for the worse in some cases (though.. I wouldn’t call /her/ a Hyper-sexualized Cariacature.. just still kinda problematic in some ways). To be honest my fondest moments of playing Street Fighter were when it was on the old consoles myself. Now I remember I lost a lot though…

              • OUT51D3R says:

                My fondest Street Fighter memories come from utterly dominating my local arcade as a teenager. I still do decently at HD Remix these days(maintaining a 1.75 w/l ratio), but I wish I had have had exposure to higher competition back when I was in my prime. I was just another small town arcade champ wondering how I would have done in a place like SVGL.

                Anyways, sorry for the tangent. Street Fighter just holds a special place in my heart.

      • anison says:

        IIRC, only something like 10% of video game artists are female, and the statistics for the rest of the industry are similar (the artist one just sticks in my mind because I’m an artist). Popular perception claims the audience is also majority male. When those things change for the better, I’ll stop questioning the motivations of female character design. Men designing women for men just doesn’t fill me with confidence.

        Also, it can’t be too small of a subset if BioWare decided to devote resources to a LI with those traits in three of their four most recent big-name releases–it’s just not the same one that goes for the Mirandas and Isabelas.

  7. UnSubject says:

    It’s Spectre, not Specter. Sorry, but it bothers me. :-)

  8. Tim says:

    “Liara had come into her own as an independent character with her own goals – goals that didn’t necessarily align with Shepard’s.”

    More like goals that don’t even align with her original interests or goals in life. Her character was completely thrown out and a new one was written for her. Maybe that new character was more entertaining to interact with than the original, but it is still an example of a huge writing mishap on Bioware’s part. To fit Liara into the plot of the game at all they had to completely change who she is.

  9. Wira Spinder says:

    Moe is one of those words that change depending on what people uses it and the era, but to my knowledge of the currently generally accepted definitions

    Tali is totally moe
    so is Garrus
    so is Conrad Verner

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