Who is Femshep?

If you’ve been following my tweets you’d have noticed that I’ve been tweeting quite often of Femshep, the character associated with the epic game series Mass Effect. You might’ve recognized this tag, or you found yourself thinking: What is this woman on about? Why is she so obsessed with this character?

Well. I’m glad you asked.

Femshep is the nickname for the female Commander Shepard, the main character/protagonist of the Role Playing Game franchinse from Bioware – Mass Effect. For those of you who are not that familiar with gaming, it basically means that she’s the woman who’s back you are constantly staring at. She’s one of two main characters of the series, the other one being Broshep or Maleshep, her male counterpart. When you start your game you can decide whether you want to play as a male or as a female and this choice effects not only who you romance but sometimes on the odd occasion who people respond to you. Broshep is voiced by actor Mark Meer and modelled after actor Mark Vanderloo. Femshep was voiced by Jennifer Hale and modelled after… Nobody. You see, up until now, Femshep had been the ignored and forgotten child of the franchise. Bioware once claimed that only about 18% of all gamers played as the female counterpart of the series, which probably meant that they felt justified not to spend that much time on her… But, I still think those percentages are wrong.

You see, Femshep is popular. I’ve seen it in fan fiction and I have monitored (and from my own experience I should add) how passionate the fans of our female heroine could get. After the release of Mass Effect 2, there became a slow but steady outcry to Bioware to use FemShep in marketing too. We wanted her to be acknowledged. We wanted Jennifer Hale to be acknowledged. You see, this woman, this voice actor is one of the best around. Not only has she now earned herself a space in the Guiness World Record books as the most prolific voice actress (ie – she’s been in more video games than your average Joe and Jack…) but she was also nominated for the best performance by a female voice actor by the Spike Video Game Awards in 2010. She’s, in a word, awesome. Which is why it’s been so disappointing to find that only Mark Meer had been used in marketing up until now. Now, please – I realize that there are people out there who feel about BroShep the way I feel about my FemShep. I’m not saying that he’s bad, I’m just saying he’s not right for me and for numerous other fans out there.

The thing is that you get involved with Mass Effect. You stand there with this woman and make difficult choices. You fight against impossible odds. You find yourself having to make a choice between who of your friends to save and who not to. You can destroy nations, save cities and face down evil overlords. And, all the while you’re doing it alongside this woman. You’re doing it with Jennifer Hale and it’s only fair that she gets acknowledged for the amazing work that she’s been putting into this series. She’s done just as many recordings as Mark Meer. Why not split the marketing 50/50? Heck – if they marketed her more from the beginning, that 18% might’ve been very different…

And, this year it will be. Although the marketing had not been split 50/50, Bioware listened to their fans and said that they would make a trailer in FemShep’s honour. We were going to get a trailer. And, we couldn’t wait. Today, the 10th of February, has been dubbed FemShep Friday (and if you’re on twitter, use the #femshepfriday hash tags!) in honour of the trailer’s release. Today. After all that waiting, after all that anticipation. After thinking that it was going to appear at the Spike VGA’s (and then disappointed) we were now going to finally catch a glimpse of our heroine in action. I am beyond excited. I feel like a dog that had just caught a car that he had been chasing. For months. Every time I go onto twitter and I see the fan’s support for both FemShep and Jennifer Hale I feel my heart swell with pride.

So, today is our day. Today, is the day where the fans of Mass Effect and FemShep can celebrate and thank Bioware for listening us and for supporting us. Today is Jennifer Hale’s day, to honour the amazing job that she had been doing, for the part that she played in making this game so wonderful.

Today is FemShep Friday, and I will show my support. And give my thanks.

And, watch that trailer when it comes out.