Mon
May 13 2013 2:00pm

Geek Love: Mass Effects: We Are Not A Mistake

Geek Love: Mass Effect

I’ve only been playing video games for about a year, because I only recently got the memo that videogames had turned into something I would enjoy. I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t see the value in things like fan fiction, usually, because I don’t get off on playing with other people’s toys. But people I trust kept telling me videogames weren’t like that anymore, so I gave it a shot, and I haven’t looked back since.

The first thing I got really obsessed with was the Mass Effect trilogy, which is basically a story about the diplomatic moves necessary to create a community in the face of Apocalypse. Over three games—hundreds of hours of playtime—you build an army, out of a complex variety of factions, races, interests and centuries of nasty political history.

The big selling point of the game—some would say, dubiously fulfilled—is that every choice you make carries weight. People you mess with in the first game might still resent you two games later. Valued allies you allow to die won’t be around when you need them, and so on. But there’s one choice, early in the game, that has led to more fights around the story than any other.

Minor spoilers to follow—and plenty of opportunities to nitpick, I’m sure—but they’re not really the point.

When you—Commander Shepard—meet Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, she’s one of the few survivors of the first major offensive by the trilogy’s overarching villains. She comes aboard your ship and immediately (and consistently) drops red flags that make her seem like a big old racist. Humanity being the newest inductee of the galactic union of races, it’s a resentful upstart kind of xenophobia: Not reprehensible, exactly, and to some barely noticeable.

Another human castmember, Major Kaidan Alenko, has his own problems: As one of the first human children tampered with to create innate psychic (“biotic”) ability, he suffers health problems and a somewhat dark attitude. But they’re both good soldiers—like Battlestar Galactica and most hard sci-fi, we’re dealing with the upper elite ranks—and they have differing skillsets. You come to know them as you do the rest of your burgeoning crew, through interactions and battlefield exclamations.

But there comes a moment when you must make a choice, to sacrifice one or the other, in a way that has long-term repercussions for the two-and-a-third games to follow. The one you lose is lost forever, and the one you keep has a fairly complex storyline, either way, in moments to come. Wherein lies the drama, for the fandom community surrounding the game: You’re hard-pressed to find a person without strong negative feelings toward one character, and defensive affection for the other.

Now, videogames are at a point where the “love interest” threads of the story are at a watershed: Recapitulating sexual politics in every other medium, the way forward is slow: First, games gave us female leads, and then the option of designing characters to your specifications, including simple binary gender. Next, romantic options, which follow that same path: Mostly focused on the men’s heterosexual choices at first, then more bisexual options for women, etc.

By the third game, a gay male Shep becomes a possibility. I find it interesting, but not fascinating, and for the same reasons I find the Ashley/Alenko offline drama so riveting: It’s a complex problem with simple roots.

Upon hearing the news that gay options were available in the games, the social primacy of heterosexuality means that a lot of us hear, rather than “option,” something akin to “forced diversity.” In practice, this is hardly the case: Any romantic entanglements with other characters are buried in conversation-trees so deep you’d have to be pressing buttons at random to suddenly and without warning find yourself involved in a tryst of any kind.

But for some of us, even that level of Easter Egg-type availability feels like being forced into something gay, because we’re at a stage in our culture where the roots and perspectives of straight privilege are still being looked at and understood. We have a thousands-year-old tradition of overlooking the mechanics of straight sex—a terrifically complex system of coded phrases, jokes, understandings and mistakes—that simply don’t exist for other people.

When you talk about your boyfriend, or your wedding, or joke about polishing your shotgun on your front porch when your daughter’s boyfriend shows up for her first date, you’re taking part in a grand tradition of understanding that sex happens, and we don’t have to talk about it. But if a gay man brings these things up, we don’t have those buffers in place: Your head goes to sex, because that’s what makes gay people interesting: Essentially, default straights who just happen to accidentally have sex with other ones, somehow.

“How do I explain this to my children?” you say, buggers and blowjobs hanging over your head like the Sugarplum Fairy. But what kids know, and you have forgotten, is that life—day-to-day, romantic, mundane—is a lot larger than that. Children have no stronger interest or opinions about gay sex than they do about straight sex, because they don’t actually care about sex: They care about social behaviors, weddings, romance and fairytales. It’s why we invented those things in the first place.

The story you know is the story you understand, but that’s not true for people who live in other stories.

A feminist conversation, for example, relies on man/woman dynamics that a lot of gay men, for example, doesn’t have a strong stake in. Gay men are men, true, but they don’t have the privilege of seeing the world through the straight binary—which means leaving them out of the feminist conversation altogether, excluded from both sides by virtue of having an opinion that is allied with neither. Nominally “GLBTQ” organizations are regularly raked over the goals for leaving out in practice any or nearly all of those letters. And so on.

Which brings us back to Ashley and Alenko. Spend any time with a Mass Effect player, and they will eventually start complaining about one of them. Ashley’s a racist, Alenko’s a whiner. “How can you say Ashley’s a racist!?” says one player. “Her whole story is about overcoming those challenges and understanding where she comes from!” “How can you possibly dislike Kaidan!? His whole story is about navigating moral rectitude when it lies athwart loyalty!” And so on.

But the trick—and it’s not one I’ve ever seen anybody notice, in all these fights—is that you are not talking about the same people. An Alenko person chose to sacrifice Ashley at her most racist, and thus for all the rest of their gameplay, remembers her that way. As a creep but a good soldier whose sacrifice is acknowledged but not necessarily mourned overmuch. An Ashley person remembers dour Alenko vaguely as a failed medical experiment with personal problems.

And yet we have these conversations as though we played the same game—as though we all know what we are all talking about, and therefore our opinions are either right or wrong. And I don’t mean that in an “all opinions are valid,” splitting-the-diff kind of way, I mean that we’re actually talking about four very different characters, in six very different games, all predicated—like a Butterfly Effect—on this one early choice.

Now, I know why I didn’t care for Ashley: Because even just those dog-whistling statements about aliens were enough for me to know I didn’t want somebody like that in my house. But that also means I never got to see her change, or grow, or let her experiences and pain and memories affect the way I dealt with her, or maybe even with other alien races. It was not a question for me.

That knowledge—that I missed out on her story, which is a microcosm of the whole trilogy’s story; that everything that rises must converge, and could have—still doesn’t change the fact of my visceral reaction to her image or her name. She’ll always be the racist I remember, because that’s the only story I know. And I’m not one to engage in online debates, so I don’t have any behavior for which I must necessarily atone, but I do know that I’m very grateful for seeing the fights happen, because they showed me something I don’t know I would have figured out any other way.

With a background in television and a history of moderating—often very fraught—TV discussions at TWoP, I am no stranger to the idea that for a lot of us “I like it” means the same thing as “It is good,” or that we’re all watching different episodes every time we tune in to the same show, and then trying to hold a conversation about that as though our reference points are the same. But with TV, you at least have somebody else steering: The show is telling you a story, and you’re engaging with it more or less intensely, and with more or less involvement, and with different scenes and characters resonating.

But with games—and in life—you’re the one steering. So the option of holding other people accountable to your own experiences isn’t so much a matter of choice, or even ignorance, as it is a matter of existing in the way you understand “existence” to imply. A lot of times, that means understanding that the default—straight, white, male—is something we’re all going to have to account for; oftentimes it drives a lot of us crazy that we have to do that. Sometimes we get confused about how those things intersect, or who gets the right to speak, or who gets the right to feel more victimized, or more outraged.

But for me, looking at this as an Ashley/Alenko—as a way of seeing baked so far back into the cake that it colors every single part of what we experience—helps. Privilege isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be aware of—“every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right”—which means that anybody who comes at you for defending boring old Kaidan brings with them the experience of having learned to love Ashley instead.

And how is that something to get angry about? I may never play the game through with Ashley, because I did come to love—over the course of three games, to a PG-13 degree—Major Alenko. But knowing about the other path, hearing the story from somebody who lived it so vastly differently, brings me more comfort than I can say. Even when the yelling gets the loudest. Maybe even moreso, then.


Jacob Clifton is a freelance writer and critic based in Austin, Texas. He currently recaps The Good Wife, Bates Motel, and Defiance for Television Without Pity.com. Check out jacobclifton.com, Twitter and Facebook.

25 comments
Eric Saveau
1. Eric Saveau
I've never understood the hate for Ashley. Yes, she was racist, but it also became clear early on that her racism was a malleable point of contention in the relationship she had with me as her commanding officer. The first time I confronted that awful moment in the first game I alt-tabbed out and walked away; I couldn't bear the thought of losing either of them. When I came back I chose to leave Ashely behind so my FemShep (yay, Jennifer Hale!) could rescue the man she had a growing romantic relationship with. But I felt absolutely sick inside doing it. On a subsequent playthrough I chose the other way, and felt just as bad; it was a very real, palpable loss for me either way.

On that first playthrough Kaiden was my Shepard's boyfriend, but Ashley was my buddy. I grew up in the military in RL, so I chose that background for Shepard, and Ashley and I would hang out at her workbench and talk about what it was like to be military brats. We bonded. And though I strongly disagreed with her about aliens, she kept her feelings out of her professional conduct and was always a dependable squadmate. I was proud to call her crew and friend.

It was similar with Kaiden. He seemed kind of emo and prone to overthinking interpersonal things, but he was a good man doing the best he could with a difficult background, so I knew to cut him some slack. And I knew that in situations which seemed to call for ruthlessness, he would always be the one to speak up for a more selfless, ethical position. He was just as good a person, a crewmember, and a friend as Ashley, just in a different way.

Damn. The Mass Effect series is woven through several years of my life now, and it still engages and affects me.
Eric Saveau
2. Megaduck
Oddly, my Shepard had no close relationship between Ashley OR Kaiden. She was very close with Wrex, Tali, and Garrus however.
Fade Manley
3. fadeaccompli
When I reached the dramatic moment of decision--Ashley or Kaiden? Who's going to die?--I turned to the friend whose game I was borrowing (and who had already played it twice himself) to ask, "Is there any way that I can sacrifice both of them?"

Sadly, the answer was no.

Mind, by the time Mass Effect 3 rolled around, I was a little more willing to deal with those two. Ashley seems less racist after meeting some much more racist characters and organizations, so she turns into a sort of military comrade equivalent of Racist Grandpa; you love the guy, and wish he were more uniformly a good person instead of having that massive character flaw there.

And I'm told Kaiden's male romance option worked pretty well... Which is good, because when I accidentally triggered his "I wuv you, Shepard!" response in Mass Effect, he immediately changed from a relatively interesting guy with some problems to a creepy, possessive, entitled Nice Guy who acted like I'd personally run over his puppy because I didn't think fraternization between the ranks was a good plan.

Anyway. I think that the people who get panicky and angry about non-straight relationships showing up in video games have enough issues that one should just sort of nod sympathetically in their sad direction. If they're incapable of generalizing from "Straight relationships are not just about mashing body parts against each other" to "Non-straight relationships are also not just about that," that's really their problem. Eventually they'll grow up and learn better.
Francisco Guimaraes
4. franksands
In my first playthrough, I had a female shepard and had a relation with Liara, but chose to save Ashley because I thought she was more useful to the group: she was an excelent sniper and a good soldier. Alenko, on the other hand, was a half decent biotic, Liara was much better, and a half decent soldier. So I went with that pragmatical view.
In my second playthrough, with a male shepard, I payed more attention to Ashley's dialogue and she comes as extremely racist and I remembered from my previous playthrough of ME2 and 3, that she does not get better, she still has racist remarks about a lot of things.
So, in this playthrough, I gladly chose to save Kaiden, and said goodbye to that racist. Even because Garrus is a better sniper.
Eric Saveau
5. Colin R
The weirdest thing to me is treating the decision between the two as a moral exercise. If anything, the decision between saving Ashley and Kaiden is an object lesson in the limits of ethics and morality in decision-making. Neither of them deserve to die, you can't save both, and trying to objectively assign a greater value to one over the other is ridiculous, monstrous thinking.

If there is something morally interesting to the question, it's the fact that in the face of a decision without a right answer, Shepard (probably) chooses the person that they've developed a stronger connection to. That could lead to some interesting re-evaluation of Shepard's moral principles; maybe all of the choices we justify as morally or ethically correct are really just post-hoc justifications for the fact that we make the decisions that make us feel best. But that would require introspection, and Shepard as a character is almost defined by a lack of introspection.

It's sort of the conundrum of video game story-telling; there is a permanent divide between the external actions and the internal life of a character. The character can't really have an internal life because their decisions are made by an external party, the player.
Eric Saveau
6. Eric Saveau
@Colin R-
"the decision between saving Ashley and Kaiden is an object lesson in the limits of ethics and morality in decision-making. Neither of them deserve to die, you can't save both"
Absolutely.
"and trying to objectively assign a greater value to one over the other is ridiculous, monstrous thinking."
I don't think the OP was attempting to do that; rather, it seemed to me that the article was examining the subjective effect on each player's personal narrative and investment in same relative to the characters. Which is certainly one valid way to treat a storytelling exercise. For myself, it was very much as you relate above - a hard lesson in the limits of what my character could do with regard to both ethics and tactics. I was desperate to save my friends, but the tactical reality was that I could not, that I had to leave someone to die. It was a choice I had seen played out in other forms of fiction, but now I was forced to shoulder the worst burden of command. And each time I replayed that, I felt the weight of it.
"It's sort of the conundrum of video game story-telling; there is a permanent divide between the external actions and the internal life of a character. The character can't really have an internal life because their decisions are made by an external party, the player."
I would argue that Shepard did have an internal life, at least to the degree that I did while playing her in character. At least, it felt that way to me, as thoroughly invested in the character and story as I was. Other players' mileage may vary, of course.
Alejandro Melchor
7. Al-X
I chose Kaidan because I had an in-game premonition. In the major plot-point previous that part, my finger slipped and I pressed an option were I intended to press another, and there was Ashley shooting Wrex in the back. So when I restored my game and actually chose my intended option and defused the fight with Wrex, it was an easy choice for me.... I'd sacrifice the woman who would have shot one of my best buddies in the back.
Eric Saveau
8. Eric Saveau
@Al-X-

The conversation where you try to talk Wrex down went badly for me the first time; I hadn't put enough points into Charm, and the results were heartbreaking. And I recognized my inability to talk him down as a failure of leadership on my part. It was the only time in ME1 that I went back to an earlier save; I couldn't bear to lose Wrex.

(It also faked me out a bit; I thought I'd already faced the spot where I could lose someone... and then I was faced with an awful choice.)

And his survival added so much to the story! Virmire was a huge turning point for him; after that he went from writing off his entire people to turning every ounce of his will to hauling them up out of chaos. I love Wrex :-)
Mordicai Knode
9. mordicai
I was going to say "who is that dude in the middle of the picture?" as a nod to FemShep (AKA RealShep) but since you were dealing with topics of male homosexuality, I won't make that joke. I will meta-make it though by leaving a comment about how I was going to make it.
Eric Saveau
10. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I'm glad you posted this article -- I don't think Mass Effect gets enough attention in America for how groundbreaking it is, not only as a video game, but as a medium for storytelling. I'm trying to get people who aren't into gaming to play it. They are my fav games ever.

As a non-hetero male, I don't think most heteros realize how privileged they are in our society. A lot of right-wing religious activists say they are not "homophobic" when the oppose gay rights and gay relationships ("we're not afraid or hateful of you" they insist) but what I always point out is that they might not be afraid but they do believe in straight privilege. it's a mindset that devalues non-straight relationships and tries to maintain a hierarchy of sexual relationships (theirs are always better).

When I played the games, I realised early on that Ashley was racist towards aliens, and while I did not agree with her view, I still valued her contributions to the team.

However, I tried to make choices as Shepard that I would have made as a military commander in real life, and as a military commander, I would ALWAYS choose to the keep the companion that I thought would do the best job to complete the mission. I played ME as an adept, and I already had another adept, Liara, and I didn't think I would need a 3rd one (Kaiden) so I chose to keep Ashley because of her superior weapons mastery. I felt then, and I still feel now, that it was the right decision.
Eric Saveau
11. Ivan T. W.
I actually didn't like Ashley or Kaidan. In fact, if there's one failing for the Mass Effect series I'd say that it writes humans pretty poorly, compared to aliens. I like every alien character that joins you for all three games, but I find a lot of the humans to be irritating.
Eric Saveau
12. hapax
A feminist conversation, for example, relies on man/woman dynamics that a lot of gay men, for example, doesn’t have a strong stake in. Gay men are men, true, but they don’t have the privilege of seeing the world through the straight binary—which means leaving them out of the feminist conversation altogether

Was there a point to this paragraph, other then taking a gratuitous swipe at those who objected to the sexism of your previous columns? What on earth do your grievances with feminism have to do with Ashley / Kaiden dynamics?

I am also puzzled as to how there could possibly exist such a thing as lesbian, bisexual, trans, genderqueer, asexual, etc. feminists, since according to your argument they are also "left out of the feminist conversation altogether."

Maybe there is more to "the feminist conversation" than you apparently are willing to hear?

However, it is helpful to know that you feel that you do not have "a strong stake" in the efforts to ensure full human treatment to people you are not interested in having sex with.

Perhaps it would be best, therefore, if you confine your analyses of social realities to the fictional interactions of characters on your computer screen.
Eric Saveau
13. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I don't agree that gay men are left out of the feminism discussion all together; gay equality is a natural ally and product of sexual equality. If men and women are equal under the law, then marriage and all other social contracts between two men or two women should be viewed as equal to those between opposite-sex participants.
Eric Saveau
14. BethanyK84
I think that there's a lot of pushback against the OP for his thoughts on feminism that is unfair and is coming from a place that is somewhat fictional and untrue.

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of feminism as a word lately and in no small part because of the OP and his writing, here and on TWOP. Understand that the word feminism means so much to me because it quite literally saved my life. This is the word, this is the concept that opened up everything for me and when I hear people attacking it, my hackles go up and I want to jump straight into the fray because this is a word attached to ME. But it's a word. And as the OP said in another piece he once wrote, the woman problem is a people problem.

Understand that the word matters to me because it saved my life but that if the word is coming to a point where it's creating an echo chamber than we need to look at that honestly and consider if it's having the wrong effect because the point has never been the word. We need to find balance with the importance of the issue and the importance of the words we use to talk about the issue. It's okay that the word is important to me and to so many other people but it's never actually been about the word. The idea that the OP doesn't care about the rights of people in general is absurd and he's written about it probably literally hundreds of times at this point. This entire PIECE is about caring about the rights of people and our stories and finding ways to see outside of the story you're stuck in.

"The story you know is the story you understand, but that’s not true for people who live in other stories."

That's true for EVERYONE. That's true for straight males who don't understand what women go through every single day, trying to navigate this. That's true for straight people who do not understand the labyrinth of privilege that has surrounded us our entire lives. That's how privilege works and everyone here knows that. This isn't about not caring about someone's rights. This is maybe about saying that certain conversations can leave people out. Even well intentioned conversations like feminist conversations. Is it more important to fight for the word or to re-evaluate the stories you understand?
Jacob Clifton
15. JAClifton
Thank you.

@hapax, I'm grateful for your viewpoint as usual. I don't think we're so far apart as you seem to think, and that bums me out. But -- as usual -- I'm not interested in justifying things that I never said and don't believe. I'm sorry, once again, that you're so upset. If there's any way I can meet you halfway, I'll say it again, just let me know what I can do to work with you to reach your goals. You'll have nothing from me but a compassionate ear and an interest in understanding what you need.

@CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan -- love the username! -- you're looking at it. This is what straight privilege looks like, under any mask: The entitlement to tell anyone outside itself how, and what, to think and say. (In this case, under the guise of an ideology that excoriates a person for saying they're opting out of a conversation while ... somehow ... simultaneously attacking them for taking part in it -- a logic I don't understand, but for which I have compassion nonetheless. Frankly, more than compassion. It's something I identify with extremely, whatever name it goes by.)

Being on the receiving end of that very justifiable anger breaks my heart, but it's nothing new: We seek out those conversations with which we identify, and if that results in confusion -- whether from an honest truth or, as here, a willingly obtuse, cherry-picking sense of recreational outrage -- I don't mind so much. These articles only happen twice a month, and somebody's getting their kicks either way.

But as for "sniping" back? Rule #1 for a happy life: Don't explain privilege to anyone in the act of exhibiting it. It's a shortcut to talking about yourself -- and for those of us who can tell the difference, tacky as hell.

Write an article about gatekeeping in the fandom community, prepare for self-elected Feminism Police jumping to do the same thing for the gender conversation. Write an article about MLP fandom's response to heteronormative behavior, be prepared for reinforcements of those gender boundaries. Write an article like this one, about the differences between straight and male privilege, batten down for a faceful of the former. We want to control the conversations we feel we can control.

That's what the piece was (pretty clearly) about, and it's what this column has always been about. I can't see that I've lost anybody that wasn't along for the ride to begin with, so it's best to have those viewpoints represented -- and more importantly I don't see the overall benefit in arguing against that kind of tantrum, when it presents like this. I don't really think it's about me -- regardless of how regularly it becomes a referendum on me as a person, for those who have just a few thousand words a month to decide who I am -- and I do hate the world that created it, because it's the world I live in. I have compassion for those parts that are legitimate, and I hope to contribute to a better world. And either way I'm gonna keep trying to do that.
Eric Saveau
16. Colin R
@Eric Saveau

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply the author was saying that one choice was superior to the other. But it's definitely a conversation that tends to happen when the topic of Ashley/Kaiden comes up, and I think the original post kind of alludes to it. For example, I've certainly heard Ashley dismissed as a racist, and so it's better to leave her to die. But even if she's a racist, that's fairly horrible reasoning. And I think that Bioware sort of invites this kind of dualistic thinking by adding dualistic tracking systems in their game, like Paragon/Renegade.

As for Shepard's internal life well, I think you hit the nail on the head--Shepard's internal life is the player's internal life. So far, we are very limited by technology in how much communication there is between a human being and a computer, so there's no real way to communicate that internal life to the game. Therefore Shepard cannot have deep or meaningful conversations about that internal life, because it would require the game to make assumptions about how the player felt about Shepard's actions. If Shepard starts expressing guilt over a choice that the player doesn't feel that Shepard should feel guilty about, it causes a dissonance in the player's relationship with Shepard. It rings false.

Bioware cheats this a little bit by populating the world with garrulous party members. They exist to fill in the personality that Shepard lacks. They add some wit and reaction shots to Shepard's missions, like a chorus. And they express ideas and emotions that Shepards by definition can't express themselves. After a while that kludge kind of gets tired though, in my opinion. It was acceptable over a decade ago in games like Baldur's Gate 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, but it's become formulaic now.
Steve Hussey
17. deihbhussey
I've played through all 3 numerous times. 1 obviously the most since it was first and I played it 6 or 8 times before the 2nd even came out and I enjoy saving Ashley much more than Kaiden. While I don't like her racist overtones, it does give the PC a chance to talk her 0ut of it a bit.

.... though to be honest, the real reason I like Ash more is she's just less annoying and whiney then Kaiden. He's whiney in the first game, but that doesn't hold a candle to how annoying he got later (especially in 3).
Jacob Clifton
19. JAClifton
So, "in good faith," you're comparing me to a racist, now?

I've already responded to what you're saying. In past threads, in this post, and in the comments to this post. Your compromised, disingenuous, obsessively entrenched "misogyny" narrative isn't going anywhere, I get it. And that's fine: Your ongoing demonstration of straight privilege takes the sting out of whatever point you are trying to make.

Again, I can't be expected to justify statements and attitudes that I never said and don't believe. It might be more productive actually to show your work, though, and in a way that carries more weight than simply calling me these oddly inappropriate names, over and over. Because that isn't criticism, it's just creepy -- and as usual, has nothing substantive to do with the article or what it actually says.

We could talk about the articles themselves, but your inability to understand the difference between critiquing the work and making grand, inaccurate statements about my character is I think fatally obstructive to that, so here's my last word on this: If what you want is to be acknowledged, you have been. You've been given all the attention you could possibly need.

But if what you want is to be in charge of administrating what I think and say and write -- which it seems to be, given the fact that every trolling comment of yours has included oddly imperious demands about exactly this -- I'm sorry, but I simply can't give you that one. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to meet your needs, and I hope you find peace.
Eric Saveau
20. Colin R
This is a... really weird discussion. It's never been my experience that most feminists considered heteronormity an important or identifying aspect of feminist thought. Or that most gay people considered feminism to be excluding them intentionally or otherwise. Generally the most unifying opinion feminism has always seemed to be that patriarchy is bad for women, straight, GLBTQ or otherwise, and also bad for most men, be they straight, GLBTQ, or otherwise.

But I feel like there is a discussion going on that is being carried over some previous thread, I guess?
Jacob Clifton
21. JAClifton
Your guess is as good as mine. But it's my fault for engaging, and I apologize.
Robert Dickinson
22. ChocolateRob
I wanted to explore lots of options when playing ME but I'm only interested in romancing the female characters and I seem to be psychologically incapable of choosing any serious renegade options in any game of this type, I can't help but make all my characters mostly virtuous (with a few of the more amusing character faults).
That said the options I was interested in exploring were Gender, Class, Origin, Virmire survivor and romance.
In the end I scribbled down the most efficient combos to guide me and then went at it -

Femshep - Infiltrator - Colonist - War Hero - A lives - Liara.
Mshep - Vanguard - Earthborn - Soul Survivor - K lives - Tali.
Mshep - Soldier - Earthborn - War Her0 -K lives - Ash then Jack.
Femshep - Sentinel - Spacer - Ruthless - K lives - Kelly then Traynor
Mshep - Adept - Spacer - War Hero - Ashley lives - Ashley
Mshep - Engineer - Colonist - Soul Survivor- Ashley lives - Ashley but
dump her for Miranda (for being such a jerk on Horizon).

This was the best set of combinations I could come up with, it has a few interesting relationship quandaries in it though. Three involve romancing Ashley in ME1 but then a) sacrificing her on Virmire, b) dumping her for another from ME2 onwards or c) getting back with her in ME3 (after dallying with Kelly)

Still only about halfway through, I intend to try a renegade run with the Sentinel there but I'll probably not have the heart to stick to it.

I was also halfway there previously but on PS3, therefor had to start all over again when ME1 became available. Especially annoying as the facial import feature would not work, so started completely from scratch.
Bridget McGovern
23. BMcGovern
hapax @18: I'm honestly not sure if you're actively trolling or just feel the need to be as antagonist as possible toward the author of this post, but I suggest you read through our Moderation Policy before posting any further contributions to this thread. This is meant to be a discussion, not an invitation to repeated personal attacks.
Eric Saveau
24. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I actually agree with hapax over you Clifton: being gay does not mean that we are left out of male/female dynamics that feminism is focused on.

She's just melodramatic and overreacting to your statement in a hostile manner.

Simply because we don't have romantic relationships with women doesn't mean we are left out of male/female dynamics. There are many other arenas in which male/female dynamics work outside of the romantic sphere: the workplace, at school, our parents and family, the government and law, and even on the Internet.

So I am not interested in dating or having sex with women but I still want them to be treated equally and I still have dynamics with them in other areas of my life.

I think you were overstating things a lot by saying gay men aren't involved in male/female dynamics.
Jacob Clifton
25. JAClifton
You're right, that would have been a ludicrous thing to assert, which is why I didn't say anything close to that.
Hannah
27. PhoenixAlthor
When I played Mass Effect for the first time the decision on who lived and who died was easy for me. I found Ashley annoying and rascist and I liked Kaidan and wanted to romance him. Simple.
In my Mass Effect universe, Ashley simply doesn't exist for most of the story for me. She was the brave soldier who died doing her duty in the fight against Saren.
So with that I always find it so strange when other players talk about Ashley and what she's been doing in the other games. It's like they're living in a completely alternate universe.
Thinking about that, every now and then I do think about giving Ashley another chance. Save her and let Kaidan be sacrificed so I can see how Ashley's story unfolds. But I just can't do it. I like Kaidan far too much to do that. It would feel strange not to have Kaidan in the games. He's always been there. He's part of my Mass Effect universe. So I'm sorry, but Ashley's going to have to die every time.
But I have seen my boyfriend play Mass Effect with Ashley and seen some bits I wouldn't have otherwise.

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