Yesterday, I was cruising the galaxy in the fastest, most advanced ship in the Alliance arsenal. Alien women were throwing themselves at my feet, I was being interviewed for the vids, I was interrupting every overheard conversation with an emphatic, “Is there something I can help you with?” I was charging around the corridors of powerful but corrupt corporations, colonies under attack, and research facilities filled with alien beings who wanted me dead, my rippling muscles surging under the heavy armor that shielded me from their attacks while they died under withering fire from my Spectre class assault rifle. Today? Not so much.
Now I’m back to being the chubby accountant stuck in traffic along the interstate, wishing desperately that I could be heading anywhere else to do anything else. McDonad’s and Sprint commercials assault me over the radiowaves. Coworkers talk to me about all kinds of shit that I can’t even begin to muster an iota of caring about. All of my responses are neutral when I’d dearly love to go Renegade or should be trying harder to be a Paragon. It’s a cruel return to reality.
But for a couple of days, I was a space marine, the single most fabulous person in the galaxy, war hero and pro-choice advocate. I did things my way.
I think games like tabletops, LARPs, and video RPGs really do enable you to slip away the mundane persona that you are forced to have, and take on the role of someone else vastly more important or cool than you could ever be. It’s a good thing, as long as it doesn’t go too far and too much of your identity is wrapped up in it. Compared to passively watching TV, though, I think it’s much more cathartic to see Captain Anderson sock Ambassador Udina in the jaw to override the shutdown command on the Normandy than to watch Lost. It’s even more fun to be the person that shoots the conniving scientist in the face or talks down the combative krogan in your squad peacefully. It does make Monday morning a little more depressing than usual, though.
Yeah, after 2 years I’ve finally gotten into Mass Effect, so much so that I’m ready to play through it again just so I can have multiple saves to use in Mass Effect 2, since I want to have one character finish it by remaining faithful to the first game’s paramour, then have a different character to romance the different people in the second game, just to see what the effects will be on a game that hasn’t even been finished yet. Yeah, I now think Mass Effect is pretty good.