In some very interesting news to come out of the gaming 'verse, Commander Shepard, the fully customizable protagonist from BioWare's seminal Mass Effect (ME) games, began life as a female, as recently revealed by animator Jonathan Cooper on Twitter.
Cooper, who is currently working on Uncharted 4 over at Naughty Dog, had worked previously as lead animator on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. He stated that ten years ago this month, he began work on one of sci-fi and gaming's most iconic female characters with an animation test on a character model that would later flourish into Commander Shepard.
The Mass Effect trilogy is an incredibly well crafted sci-fi RPG of ridiculous scope. The game allows you to customize your Shepard in a multitude of ways including sex, race, aesthetic features, class and psychological profile.
Despite only 18% of people played ME as "FemShep", ME thrusts ManShep at you as the default choice of badass, she became such a massive hit with the community, BioWare decided to release a reversible ME3 inlay cover complete with both the female and male incarnations of the hero.
Wait For It...
But not all turned out roses. In 2011, BioWare and their publisher EA, rather strangely, held a beauty pageant of sorts to decide which race and look FemShep would acquire, instead of opting with allowing gamers to send in images and bios of their FemSheps and letting them choose.
The internet spoke and resoundingly chose Shepard 5, opening a can of worms and birthing some interesting online discussion...
This is the first time that female Shepard will be shown to the world. The real world... So it breaks my heart that the mass public have gone for such the wishy washy, Barbie faced personality vacuum that is Shep 5.
- Kim Richards, PC World
But, due to the furore, BioWare and EA opened a second round where a red headed FemShep was eventually victorious and became the poster child of ME3.
Despite it being a huge shame that BioWare didn't follow through with having FemShep as the default Shepard, seeing as there is a significant dearth in female led video games, it's fantastic that they considered the possibilities. But why did they completely disregard the FemShep animations in ME2?
Who can say! But despite the lingering controversy, the Mass Effect trilogy still stands as some of the best games ever made. And it's a welcomed change having a woman, the creator of life, being its very savior. If that's the way you play.