A Response to A Bit of the Old Up, Up, Down, Down

Chris Pranger | 19 Jan 2012 10:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

The result of this choice meant that during the end of the first game, Shepard was left all alone. Liara didn't show up as I'd chosen to make this Shepard utterly cruel to her, cutting off any possible reunion. The only character that she had really opened up to was now dead.

However, things really got interesting in Mass Effect 2. This new Shepard remained tough as nails, leaning toward power and cold ambition over "Let's all get along!" That's where Thane showed up. To remind those that may have forgotten, Thane is the drell with a shady past as an assassin who only stopped what he was doing once in order to not kill the woman he ended up falling in love with. After her death, he abandoned his son Kolyat to find her killers. When Shepard met up with him, he was attempting to atone for his past deeds and keep his son out of his line of work.

Oh, and he had a terminal disease.

Adding everything up, the story progressed naturally for female Shepard to match with him. Jacob was too much of a goody-goody, and Garrus was more of an old war buddy than a romantic interest. Thane, however, is a tragic love story waiting to happen. Shepard sent her first love to die, and now that she's found love again it's with a man who has less than a year to live. When their story reached the conclusion at the end of Mass Effect 2 on the eve of the Normandy 2's suicide mission with Shepard's insistence that they spend that evening together, living, it didn't feel like I'd chosen a series of right answers in order to see some hot alien sex. It felt like I'd chosen the correct path for a deeply touching narrative to play itself out.

But again, this all comes down to the gamer. In this instance, I very much wanted to be mature and view the sexual encounter as something of substance between two strong characters. In Fable II, I made the hero have sex with his wife for the novelty of the act and the achievement because I wanted nothing to do with that game's narrative. That was my choice - not the game's, not the developer's.

Are videogames evolving a more mature stance on sex? No, not really. Have they started to slide backwards? Absolutely not. The sex has always been there, it just matters how you want to look at it. A thirteen-year-old can choose to remember Titanic as that one movie where we see Kate Winslet topless, or they can decide to remember it had a boat in it somewhere. I remember the boat. How about you?

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