is the famous “Shepard” really a character?

I think it’s funny that the male Shepard has kind of become the identity of the Mass Effect series – like Snake from the Metal Gear series. But, it isn’t that easy. Shepard isn’t one single character. He can be a whole spectrum of characters depending on how the player makes him – or her! And he should never make it onto a “greatest video game characters” list. Shepard can look drastically different – can be black, white, latino, asian… can be a girl or a boy… and can actually be a good character or an evil one. This dynamic of characterization has worked well for hundreds of role-playing games, but none of those have tried to make the character their logo! They reside more in the game’s environment and gameplay to sell it, and leave the main character as a mystery – kind of like Gordon Freeman in the Half-Life series. Maybe it’s because Mass Effect is so cinematic, they’ve tried to market it like a playable movie instead of just a role-playing game. It does add to the grandness of the story to see Shepard standing there in the poster… “one man… one destiny… blah blah.” But it’s still going to annoy me when I see that pre-designed male (or female) face because I immediately think, “that’s not my Shepard!”

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