Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waiting for Reapers: Playing the Role in an RPG

Way back when, I put forth a challenging, daring notion: that when you are playing a role playing game, you ought play the role of your character. Yeah, I know, way out in left field there. But to play a role, you need to know your character—their thoughts, attitudes, opinions, and motivations. How else can you be expected to play? It’s a dance between the writers and I, where they provide the What, and I fill in the far more interesting Why. For too many players, though, role playing is some zero-sum system reduced to rote numerology, where they are to be rewarded tangibly with both in-game doodads and a vague notion of “change”. It’s a rant I’ve been on before, so rather than repeat it, how about if I tell how it worked for me in the stunning climax of Mass Effect 2, a pulse-pounding mission wherein any and all characters can be killed through your actions, and show how it made the experience richer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Waiting for Reapers: I’m Totally Right

            Nothing provides sustenance sweeter than the delicious taste of correctness. Many moons ago, I wrote about the silly controversy over the hair color of Commander Shepard, Mass Effect’s mutable protagonist. My thesis: in light of her undisputed badassery, the worries over Lady Shepard’s hair color are stupid and superficial, possibly speaking to a very vexing and insidious type of sexism. I may never be vindicated on the latter bit, but the former? Oh man.

Waiting for Reapers: Another Chance for Battlestar

On March 6th, I’ll have Mass Effect 3. This was an event written in the bedrock of the universe. I am beyond prepared. By my count, I’ve played Mass Effect 2 (one of my GOTY 2010 Picks!) to completion twelve times—two of them this year—and I could easily do another. ME has almost the perfect alchemy, with a fascinating universe, characters I adore, and themes that resonate. But, I don’t want to burn myself out before I even have it, as unlikely as that seems. Then along came a column entitled “Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Sci-Fi Universe of Our Generation”. Needless to say, I agreed, but it got me thinking about what else could even be considered in contention. The column listed a few contenders, but only one seemed credible—the 2004 re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. There are a few connections between the two, actually, with a few similar themes, styles, an homage, and a pair of actors. I have my opinions on BSG, but they’re a bit old. Has time changed them? Now here’s something that will give me my spaceship fix until the 6th.