I know firsthand how an interracial relationship can cause scorn and anxiety, so to hear that there's a whole society that actually encourages mating outside the tribe meant a lot. Fear of the unknown makes people espouse views that not only harm society, but can also damage their loved ones, so it's nice to have some inclusionary ideas in the Mass Effect universe. Of course, the Asari aren't perfect and even they have their isolationist fringe. In Mass Effect 2, you have an encounter with an Asari medical rep who's engaged in some unfair business practices with Shiala, another blue-woman who's helping the Zhu's Hope human colony that you saved in ME1 rebuild. You talk the medical rep and find that her rampant xenophobia has its roots in personal loss of her bondmate and her daughters. She breaks down and cries and agrees to help the colony. Shiala expresses her gratitude by saying, "I don't think I could have... Is it always like this? Yesterday's problems lingering in some new form? Isn't anything just fixed?"
I like this quote because it hits on various levels. It's a sly nod to the symbiosis between the two Mass Effect games and how plot points carry over from one to the other. The line also works as a comment on the nature of game design and maybe even foresees how a fickle audience will react to changes to the gameplay in Mass Effect 2. Moreover, I've felt that way in my own life after a string of too many "a brother could-use a break" days. To be human is to always wonder about yesterday's problems lingering in some new form. So, a single line of text that holds up to all those interpretations is just half of the genius of Mass Effect. The other half is in the responses you can make as Commander Shepard. The options are, "It's not all bad," "Focus on today." "Only with death." Of course what you choose affects the way your character progresses, but what also strikes me is how true-to-life those responses feel. Optimism, nihilism and the short-focus place in-between are how we all move through life and the game mechanic reminds us that they're all choices and not givens.
Bioware's building rich lore in these games. More importantly, you can enjoy it in different ways. You can show up for the mere surface thrill of combat and exploration and have a good time. Or, you can build a pretty compelling psychological portrait of a virtual personality and nest that into a whole series of consquences. Whatever fate you wind up with, it's the one you've made. And being able to share that with others in the gameworld reminds you how important an open mindset is. It can save the universe, even.
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