Mass Effections: I Am Not a Hero

At their core, video games are mechanisms for people to play out their hero fantasies. Most of us don’t get the chance to be the sort of hero we grow up revering. The guy who charges a machine gun nest to relieve pinned down comrades. The gal who rushes into a burning house to save someone else.

We all want to be heroes and video games make for a painless way to “prove” that we are.

Some games give you classic heroes. Their honor, courage, and nobility are all that’s required to stack up a pile of corpses large enough to save the day.

Other games give you anti-heroes. They save the day by amassing an equally impressive pile of bodies, but through the POWER OF SARCASM.

Others still feature reluctant heroes. They require a catalyst, usually an attack on something or someone they love, before they save the day via a pile of corpses.

Also common are unlikely heroes. They are just an average Joe or Josephine; a common person who must create an uncommonly large pile of corpses to save the day.

At the root of it all is the belief that we would be heroes if only given the opportunity.

************************

Mass Effect lets you be your own sort of hero. You can be the product of a spacefaring family, a poor Earth orphan, or a survivor of a colony wiped out by slavers. Although I am of Earth, the colonial option sounded closer to my agrarian roots.

You also get to choose your backstory. You can be the sole survivor of a mission gone wrong, a war hero who single-handedly repelled an invasion, or a renegade who ruthlessly completes the mission regardless of cost.

Without a personal connection to any of them, I picked the war hero.

We all want to be heroes.

************************

I don’t have the physical courage necessary to be a hero.

That doesn’t make me a total coward. I probably have intellectual courage. I don’t settle for easy answers and I’m not afraid to question my beliefs, even those most cherished. That takes courage.

I have moral courage most of the time. I usually can be counted on to do the right thing. However, I’m also practical enough to choose my battles. Heroes don’t fight the good fight only when it’s easy or convenient. I could stand to improve in that regard.

I do not possess physical courage. Brave a storm of gunfire? Continue reading

Mass Efflections: Introduction

In July of 2009, I wrote a piece about the “10 Best Video Games I’d Played.” It wasn’t a bad list, but four and a half years later, little would be recognizable.

Black Ops II has replaced Modern Warfare. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is up there somewhere now. I’ve played enough Operation: Flashpoints, Gears of Wars, Halos, and Batmans to know that only Fallout 3 and Eternal Darkness would remain on that list today.

There is one other similarity, though: A Mass Effect game would occupy the top spot. In fact, the Mass Effect series would occupy three of the top four spots, with only Bioshock: Infinite making me think twice about a sweep.

********************

My first Mass Effect playthrough was pretty predictable. I played as a male Shepard, making sure to go paragon on everything. My initial Shepard was super nice, as are pretty much all of my Action RPG characters.

I romanced Liara in Mass Effect. If I had to guess, I was drawn to her innocence in a cold, unforgiving universe. Or something like that. Sadly for her, I moved on to Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2 because Yvonne Strahovski. I don’t think I need to explain more, although I’m sure I will later.

This time, the rules are simple: Continue reading