Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sorry Shepherd, the Princess is in Your Spaceship.

We are introduced to Miranda, who some may think a heroine of Mass Effect 2, by eavesdropping on a conversation between her and her, for now we will say, boss. We come upon the scene from behind where we see a male sitting at an obnoxious desk in an obvious position of authority with Miranda standing slightly behind, figuratively and literally his Lieutenant. She is clad in, nay caressed by, a white tight uniform designed not for function but form.

She is leaning hard and straight on one of her long and shapely legs with her well connected hip cocked to the side enhancing another and already shapely curve. Your eyes begin to follow a line over said hip, through and along her waist and up her left side. Almost knowingly the camera swings around in the same direction and presents us fully with Miranda’s impossible breasts. Of which we had caught lustful glimpses on our recent and far too short visual journey that started at her ‘supple yet firm at the same time’ right butt cheek. Continuing to pan upward the camera forces us to focus on her perfect neck, chin, lips, nose, eyes - face. Her perfectly styled and never out of place hair isn’t black. It isn’t brown. Let’s call it raven. Finally the rest of our senses start to catch up and we realize she has been talking in a sexy, if not outright sexual, Australian accent throughout the exchange.

The problem with that last paragraph is that I didn’t make any of it up. Miranda’s character design is exactly what you would expect from a still male dominated industry selling their (bio)wares to a still dominantly male demographic. I am going to assume that her design team had no women on it and was made up of immature men that could only come up with the born out of ignorance, standard and stereotypical “perfect woman.” I am also going to bet that at some time during the process her hair was blonde.

Please bear with me because this might set up the only subtext the character Miranda was endowed with. In the game you can find out Miranda’s origin story. That is, if you take the time to talk to her. You know, instead of staying with the ogling. You learn that she has no mother and was created solely by her father by way of genetic science-fiction using his own arrogant chromosomes to, again, be the “perfect woman.” What terrible irony – for the design team. Furthermore, she was created by her father and the design team to do what he and they want for their purposes. It is as if this plight is her fate and she cannot escape it.

This brings us back to the man I temporarily referred to as her boss and the glimmer of hope that I have for Miranda and by association Mass Effect 2. At this early point in the game there is no difference between the boss known only as “The Illusive Man” and Miranda’s father. As far as both are concerned she is simply a tool for their use in their agendas. The only difference is on Miranda’s side where she has rationalized that she made the choice to work for said boss. When in fact he is more successful a puppet master than the father she thought she escaped. To conclude, Miranda is not (yet) a heroine. She is a clumsily, stumbled upon by accident "damsel in distress." For her sake, and that of Mass Effect 2 and the character designers, I hope she is able to be freed from this fate through her own actions and in the end both find and save herself.


Gus said...

Miranda may have an impossible figure, but my female Shepard feels and looks grounded -- that's pretty rad.

avk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
avk said...

Sorry. That comment could not be fixed.

Boiled down:
Bioware seems to employ a number of women, at least half of the gameplay vids for ME2 and SWtOR are narrated by women with titles like "lead gameplay designer."

My femshep keeps it real as well.

w1ndst0rm said...

My editor, wife, cleaned up the tenses and worked on some sentence structure ...

I put it on the FB for some fun non-gamer trolling.

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