Honest Faith: Mass Effect
My brother is Commander Shepherd and this is his favorite blog on the Citadel.
Actually, I have no idea what my brother’s favorite blog is, but I figured that statement would be a good way to begin this post. My brother is a brilliant cosplay artist, in fact, you can see some of his amazing work over on his facebook page. We both love this particular BioWare title, and the vast majority of their line-up to be exact. But I want to focus on the first 3 games in the Mass Effect series. Don’t worry you will not have had to play the games to follow my logic in this post, but if you are looking for a fantasy/sci-fi world to get lost in this should be your prime go-to.
I’m currently in the middle of my fourth playthrough of this series. When I sold my Xbox 360 this game series was the hardest one for me to part with. When they finally announced backward compatibility for the Xbone I was overjoyed, because what did they announce it with? MASS EFFECT! This game does an amazing job of exploring a deep rich history of galactic civilizations that, in the story, go back millennia. There is a lot of interwoven narrative and side quests that can deepen your experience within the beautiful tapestry that is this Sci-Fi RPG Epic. Whilst playing through I’ve been struck by some of the deeper ethical and spiritual dilemmas that the main character is faced with. If you’ve ever listened to our podcast, you know that this is kinda my thing.
I won’t spoil any of the fun side plots for you because I want to focus on the major plot and what it speaks to our faith. Mass Effect is about a cycle of the universe that results in the first, possibly, prime AI that every 50000 years come and “reap” all technologically advanced cultures and civilizations in the galaxy and incorporates them into themselves. Like the Borg from Star Trek the “Reapers” are not looking to make friends, but to destroy all other unique life forms so that there is only them at the end.
This is a very common trope among sci-fi and fantasy. There is this a fear of losing one’s individuality within a vast sea of oneness. I think this is a very difficult fear to get past. I see it a lot of our narratives. Often this is asked in different ways such as: Are we in control of our destiny? Do we have free will? Will I lose who I am? What makes me, me? How am I different from all of the mindless masses? Who am I? Take your pic.
Now at the end of this game series, (if you know anyone who has every played this series you know that this is the most disappointing part of the ENTIRE THING!) the game tries to wrap up the entire narrative by saying that this character is the one who helped humanity find its place in the galaxy by ending this threat. (Ps. I am a fan of the Shepherd Indoctrination Fan Theory by the way) Going through the game this time has shown me that the game developers and designers over at BioWare placed a high importance on unity in diversity rather than uniformity. This can be seen in countless decisions you, the character player Shepherd, can make throughout the games. I think that the beauty of this game series is the way those things play out. I think they can also teach us a lot about our own world as well.
For some reason, we human beings are afraid of anything that is different from our own little bubble of experience. This can be a faith that we didn’t grow up with, a different culture we aren’t familiar with, or an ice cream flavor we are just too afraid to try. One of the things that makes humanity great is our diversity. Not only that but our ability to adapt once we are open to that diversity. For some reason, I think we get the two things confused in our lives: Unity in diversity VS. Uniformity. There is a big difference.
We have so many religions,
cultures, creeds, and ice cream preferences that make up the whole of who we are as human beings. Last week, I talked about giving up. I wonder what would happen if we as a species decided to give up trying to fight our differences and embraced them. I wonder what it would look like if we decided to become a unified human race that celebrated the things that made each of us unique. The big question that asks though is how do we do that? How do we let go of our prejudices to celebrate someone elses uniqueness? Why do we want other people to submit to our uniqueness just to keep it from being lost? I don’t have the answers to those questions. I wish I did. I’d love to have a conversation regarding that sometime. I don’t have a profound thought to leave you with this week just the questions that I think we all need to talk about. How do we unite in our diversity? Whether you are a paragon or a renegade, I’d love to talk to you about it. Add a comment with your thoughts on the matter, or on the facebook post, or a pm, or whatever. I invite you to join the conversation.