Metacritical

Because games are about more than headshots

Deutsch, Alienation and Mass Effect

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I did it wrong.

In my foolish haste to install Mass Effect as quickly as possible (and thus enjoy the tasty Bioware RPG goodness), I accidentally managed to install it in German. Menus, Subtitles, Voice Work. All utterly incomprehensible to me, my entire repertoire of German originating from Call of Duty 2.   Rather than sit through the lengthy install process again however, I decided I’d try and wing it, relying on my rote memory of the game from a previous play through and testing out the quality of the German voice work.

It started well enough, as German Shepard (I see what I did there) and I ran through the entirely linear and memorable sequence on Eden Prime, very few elements of which I had forgotten from my previous run through. It was feeling sort’ve cool to be honest, like watching a foreign art house film (except there’s no art house to be found, so like watching a foreign film. Really when I think about it, it was like playing a game in a foreign language). German Shepard certainly seemed a lot more bad ass that regular old Shepard and the crazy scientist (after you find that the beacon is missing) seemed a lot creepier, now that I could understand nothing at all of his inane speech.  Turians seemed more alien than ever and overall I was quite enjoying this German run through, despite the growing dread that the game would later become unplayable.

However, this fey experience was not to last. As soon as the Council announced their intentions to do nothing about Saren’s betrayal, I totally forgot what I was supposed to be doing. In my mind, I could recall most of the side quests in broad terms, however the minutia escaped me. Who was I supposed to smuggle this guys package to? Who does this Turian need me to intimidate? I began to feel quite alienated from the world, a feeling heightened by German Shepard’s seeming understanding of everything that was going on, creating a dissonance between us. Of particular annoyance to me was a quest where you had to convince some jellyfish to cease preaching in a public space, something I couldn’t manage to do even through trial and error.

The quests I did manage to complete were the ones which had a ‘renegade’ solution where you essentially just shoot the person who you’re talking to.  So, driven up against a corner, that’s what I did.  My hard coded inability to interact within the normal social structures of this society reduced me to the form of a sociopathic murderer.  Not because I felt I gained anything through my violent actions,  they were merely the only possible means of ‘progression’ through German Shepard’s life.

It was here that I realized the shocking parallels between my experience and that of people with mental disabilities.

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Written by Aonshix

January 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

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