I have a secret… I am a role playing nerd. I got into it very young. It started for me as a game without dice. Kids in Family Housing at UBC would play by one kid telling a story and the other kids each choosing actions and words for a unique character within the story. At the time I didn’t know there was an entire industry around this concept but I loved the stories. I found making the choices of one of the main characters, attempting to have him live up to the high standard of Sir Cedric, intoxicating – I still do. This introduction evolved into an interest in fantasy novels, a brief sojourn with choose your own adventure novels, and a sustained interest in the role playing and strategy gaming industry. The most well known title of the genre is, of course, Dungeons & Dragons.
With the advent of computer technology role playing games went through a transformation from the physical table top to isometric 2D story driven, turn based, strategy games where you controlled a whole party (team) and it played out for you through your cathode ray tube (CRT) one virtual dice roll at a time. From there the genre evolved to real time, 3D, story driven, action games where you control a single character, issue orders to party members and it all plays out with voice acting and cinematics on your wide screen HD TV. One company has been more influential than any other in shaping this transformation, and that company is Bioware from Edmonton, Canada.
The Bioware trilogy Mass Effect, which recently concluded, is the pinnacle of the real time, 3D, story driven, action game where you virtually embody the hero, and thereby navigate the hero’s story. Mass Effect has been heralded as the most influential science fiction setting since Star Wars and my next post will set out in broad strokes the wonderful Mass Effect story. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t experienced the Mass Effect trilogy and you plan to – proceed with caution.