In my last post I talked about how playing the video game Fallout 4 by Bethesda Game Studios helped me maintain my sanity during the time that my elderly father’s health was declining. However, once daddy passed away and I was dealing with all of the grief associated with that, I needed something different, something familiar and comforting. Only one video game series meets that qualification – the Mass Effect trilogy created by Bioware.
I was already having Mass Effect flashbacks due to Bethesda’s use of voice actor Brandon Keener for many characters in Fallout 4. Brandon Keener also voices my favorite video game character ever – Garrus Vakarian. Garrus is a companion and eventually a potential romance partner in the Mass Effect games. So, when my heart was torn apart by grief, I returned to saving the galaxy with my virtual friends and lovers.
I will be the first to admit that I am partial to Bioware games – their storytelling is what makes their games shine and my heart sing. The writers at Bioware create believable worlds inhabited by believable, but flawed, characters. Jeff Moreau, known to all as Joker, is the pilot of the Normandy (a space-faring frigate) in all three games. Not only is Joker the best pilot in the Alliance (human military) and a total smart ass – he also has brittle-bone disease. Joker is a wonderful example of how our limitations don’t have to define who we are – we can shine in spite of them. At the other end of the spectrum is Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams. In a time in which humans know they are no longer alone in the galaxy, Ashley doesn’t like aliens – a pretty big drawback for someone on a mission that includes as many alien crew members as it does humans. Ashley’s unfailing negative attitude toward non-humans is one of the main reasons that when forced to choose between saving Ashley or fellow crewmate Kaidan Alenko, I always choose Kaidan – even though once-sweet Kaidan turns into a complete dick in games 2 and 3.
My last year has included not one but TWO play-throughs of the Mass Effect trilogy. As with Fallout 4, the time spent working through virtual political machinations, fire fights, and brokering peace between warring races for the good of the galaxy helped me work through my feelings without getting lost in them. And the tears I shed over being forced to say goodbye to much loved characters such as Legion and David Anderson were not only for them but also for my daddy.
So, if any employees of Bioware see this post – thank you. Thank you for your games, your stories, and your characters – they mean more to me than I can ever explain in a simple blog post. Your stories gave me the push that I needed to finally start writing – none of my stories would exist without yours. And, thank you for helping me through one of the hardest times in my life.
And now, dear Bioware, we are entering a new phase together. Just as I started getting my emotional feet back under me, my mother passed away. So, now I am leaning on you again. I have big hopes for the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda on March 21, 2017 – one day after this post goes live. I am hoping that Andromeda will bring the best of both worlds to this new stage of grief – exploring new worlds with new virtual friends while bringing back the best of what I loved about the original games – wonderful stories and believably flawed characters, both human and alien. Here’s to more adventures – and more healing – together. *raises chai latte in toast*