Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
For as long as the franchise has been in existence, advertising for BioWare’s Mass Effect series has portrayed the main protagonist, Commander Shepard, as male and white. Destructoid.com recently included Mass Effect in a long list of modern video games games featuring the prototypical white male action heroes with brown hair and stubble.
Yes, yes, we know that players can choose gender, race, and facial features in character creation, and sexual orientation in game play. But the default setting for Commander Shepard in character creation (not to mention in all marketing thus far) is a white male. According to BioWare 82% of Mass Effect 2 players choose to play as male. About one out of five players go with the default model.
After fans rallied for an official female Shepard to be used in advertising, BioWare’s PR people have announced a contest to let fans vote for the official female Shepard to be used on the Collector’s Edition packaging. Fans can vote on Facebook to like their favorite model.
Fans who prefer a white version of Shepard will still have the opportunity to buy a box with his face on it in every store. Even though the winning female Shepard will only be a limited edition box, this is still a groundbreaking chance because non-sexualized women of color rarely, if ever appear in the foreground of video game box art.
Although voting is not over, the Shepard with long blonde hair and blue eyes Shepard has a commanding lead…for now.