The Balance of Commander Shepard


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Character Breakdown: Commander Shepard
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The Balance of Commander Shepard

So, for those who aren’t familiar, in Mass Effect the player has the option in conversations and cut scenes to perform specific actions, classified as “renegade” and “paragon.”  Renegade options are typically a bit more violent, and follow along the “loose cannon cop” kind of archetype.  Paragon options fall more along the line of “good cop” type interactions.  A good example of this from earlier in the first game is when you’re having a conversation with several people who survived an alien attack.  One of these people is a bit hysterical about it.  The paragon option has you eventually calm the man down verbally, so tranquilizers can be administered.  The renegade option has you punch him and knock him out.

Often renegade options are like this, a bit more “short and sweet,” if you will, while paragon typically involves a bit more work(and a bit less punching), to achieve similar goals in the end.  Now, this is not the good/evil divide you see in other games where the player has free choice(Fable comes to mind…).  A renegade player is not necessarily evil, just a bit more ruthless, in an “end justifies the means” kind of way.  Similarly, a paragon player is not necessarily “good,” but may be a bit more compassionate.

If we translate this to real life, we are often faced with choices.  Every day we choose how to interact with people, how to make decisions on what to do with our time, and how we react to choices others make.  Most people choose the actions that leave them feeling morally justified.  This leads to phrases like, ‘Oh yeah, sure, make me the bad guy here.”  This also creates situations like the romantic interest who is eternally in “the friend zone,” watching as their love interest perpetually chooses people other than them, and wondering why, when they’re always so “nice.”

In life, you need to realize that compassion is important.  Kindness is a good thing to show to other people, as is understanding, and patience.  But you also need to realize that there are people out there who will walk all over you, when given the chance, and that being a doormat for the purpose of being nice is not preferable to the alternative.  Any time that you are slighting yourself for the good of other people, consider carefully whether or not it is the best option.

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, and it’s not wrong.  There’s a difference between preserving your own well-being, and actively seeking out and injuring others.  Sometimes, you need to let other people stand on their own merits, without you supporting them just for the sake of being “nice”(helicopter parents have a problem with this one).  Sometimes you need to tell your best friend that you’re romantically interested in them.  Not wanting to for the sake of “preserving the friendship,” isn’t really morally superior when it leads to you hiding things from them and lying(which will, in turn, build resentment in both parties).

Be kind.  Be good.  Be compassionate.  But also, don’t be a wallflower.  Don’t be a doormat.  Looking out for your own personal well-being should always be concern number one(with the small exception of caring for those you life in dire emergencies).  If you let people walk all over you, they’ll never listen to or follow your lead.  If they won’t do that, then how do you ever expect the world to take you seriously, or to change things for the better?

Paragons are important, but they always need enough renegade in them to be able to stand on their own two feet, and resist the overbearing influences of others.

Sorry this post was a day late, had a great day of skiing with my son and wife yesterday(want a good workout?  Teach a four year old to ski.)  Our weekly progress update will be up sometime later today, with pictures!  Until then, remember to always be awesome.

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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4 thoughts on “The Balance of Commander Shepard

  1. Pingback: Character Breakdown: Commander Shepard » Be a Game Character

  2. Aditya Wanchoo says:

    you know, Bioware has been overplaying this card quite often, Paragon/Renegade conflict is much similar to light side/dark side of the star wars, open palm/closed fist of the jade empire and even dialogue options in Dragon age universes…do gooder vs gun trotter has been a concept lot expanded upon under earlier names, you might want to look into them, might give you a little more perspective…and us fans, a deeper richer experience….

  3. Pingback: The Commander Shepard Workout | Be a Game Character

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