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Women in Gaming: The Mass Effect of Backlash

Over at the phantom zone, I've posted the first in a sporadic new series about women in gaming, whether on screen, behind the code, or at the controls.

"Sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you. I’m getting a lot of bullshit on this line."

When BioWare released Mass Effect back in 2007, it was widely heralded as the best new franchise of its generation, but what many players didn’t initially realise was that the game allowed the player the choice of selecting a female character. This was far from being a gaming first, but it was a pioneering move: never before had a third person shooter had such a prominent female lead, that differed from the male default in looks alone.

Commander Shepard, whether male or female, had almost exactly the same dialogue, actions, and options. A tough woman officer, she didn’t have to put up with any sexist jibes, slithering compliments, or toned down action. But femShep, as she is affectionately known, appeared in none of the promotional campaigns or box art for the series, leaving some players unaware of her existence.

Commander Shepard of the SSV Normandy

Continue reading at the phantom zone!

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