liara ali

Some Notable Bioware characters who share voice performers

Not a complete list at all but quite a few voice actors and actresses who cross over from Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. (list does not include The Old Republic, as I’ve not played that one)

Also worth noting that some of these actors also played minor roles as NPCs in the games, but I couldn’t find all of them (also gave up after Alix Wilton Regan’s went up to 5 picture slots)

Jennifer Hale - Bastila Shan (KOTOR, KOTOR II), Female Shepard (ME, ME2, ME3), Krem (DAI)

Raphael Sbarge - Carth Onasi (KOTOR, KOTOR II), Kaiden Alenko (ME, ME2, ME3)

Steve Blum - Oghren (DAO), Grunt (ME2, ME3)

Alix Wilton Regan - Female Inquisitor (DAI), Comm Specialist Traynor (ME3), Macha (DAII), Ser Cauthrien (DAO)

Nicolas Boulton - Male Hawke (DAII, DAI), Reyes (MEA)

Jo Wyatt - Female Hawke (DAII, DAI) Dr. Cole (ME3) Ostagar Nurse (DAO)

Courtenay Taylor - Juhani (KOTOR), Jack (ME2, ME3)

Freddie Prinze Jr. - James (ME3), The Iron Bull (DAI)

Allegra Clark - Josephine (DAI), Kesh (MEA)

Ali Hillis - Liara T’soni (ME, ME2, ME3) Scout Harding (DAI)

Indira Varma - Vivienne (DAI), Sloane Kelly (MEA), Moshae Sjefa (MEA)

Like I said, not a complete list. I may revisit this post at a later date and add more! If there are any other Bioware carryover voices you’d like to see on the list please let me know!


So I met Jennifer Hale today...

She was at AVcon and she did a Q&A.

Some interesting things that popped up:

1. Her favourite line from Mass Effect is ‘I’ve had enough of your disingenuous assertions’
2. Bioware approached her to voice Krem. She did weeks of research and watched a lot of documentaries and considers it a huge honour to voice Krem.
3. She’s good friends with Ali Hillis (Liara) and whenever she has a ‘red carpet’ event to go to, Ali helps her pick out what to wear
4. As such Jennifer really enjoyed her scenes with Liara (even though Ali wasn’t present in the room with her)
5. Her favourite Mass Effect character is Mordin
6. Her OTP is Shakarian
7. She got emotional doing the goodbye scene with Garrus at the end of ME3 and had to recompose herself
8. She often doesn’t know what the script says until she’s in the recording booth
9. She doesn’t play video games because she is terrible at them
10. If she played Mass Effect she’d be renegade
11. She cannot legally say anything about Mass Effect: Andromeda. However, she did stress that it did not mean she was necessarily in it
12. Her favourite line from Diablo is literally just a roar (I haven’t played the game so I can’t explain it better than that, sorry)
14. She loved working with Freddie Prinze Jr. and says he is very funny and great fun to be around
13. She has hit the ‘limit’ for the amount of concussions one person can have. She also told us a story about a plane and motion sickness, but it’s pretty gross so if you want to hear it then feel free to message me.

She answered more questions, but that’s currently all I remember. If I remember more then I will post it.

I Need Diverse Games Because...

In a wonderful state of chance, I discovered the Mass Effect series around the same time that Game Informer published an editorial talking about the under-represented gamer. The article covered all of the same topics that are being hashed out under the #INeedDiverseGames hashtag/movement, and it was a beautifully written sentiment that had me step back and think “I don’t ever see a POC lead character in video games, do I?”

So I popped in my Mass Effect 2 (Because I have a Playstation 3, and could not start the series at the beginning – at the time), and went in knowing that I was going to have a beautiful African lead character. I did a little bit of research into the voice actors who played the Male Shep and Fem Shep role, because if I was going to be spending hundreds of hours with this character, I wanted one that would not get on my nerves. When I heard Jennifer Hale deliver the rousing speech near the end of the game on YouTube, and compared it to the fairly stereotypical gravelly male lead, I knew that I was going to have a female lead character.

So already, I have created someone who is almost completely opposite from your typical lead character: an African woman lead. This was beautiful, and refreshing for me to see in a video game. The storyline (generally) is the same for any player or any gender, and it wass this specific fact that made it so powerful: It does not matter if you are a man or a woman, black or white, you can still save the galaxy.

If that was all that Bioware gave me, I would have considered Mass Effect one of the greatest series that I have played. But there was a deeply interpersonal connection with the team members on the ship. Romantic relations are an option for Shepard, and there are many, many options to choose from. Since I started at the second installment, I began with a short “Choose Your Advenure” style comic that got me up to speed with Shepard’s actions from the first game. Here the romantic options for my Fem Shep were Kaidan, the traditional man to Shepard’s woman, and Liara T'soni. Liara, voiced by Ali Hillis, is by all human standards a woman. (She’s actually a race of hermaphroditic aliens that can have children by men or women, which opens up an entirely different conversation that I may touch on later.) In the comic Kaidan was kind of a jerk, so I picked Liara to be Shepard’s love interest. So now we have a black, woman, gay character saving the galaxy and generally being a badass.

If that was all that Bioware gave me, I would have considered Mass Effect one of the greatest series that I have played.

I began playing Mass Effect 2 with the distinct intention of being faithful to Liara, because I wanted to see something completely fresh and original. Something that I had never seen in a video game before: two lead gay characters who balked at the stereotypes that have been handed to us. Unforunately, Liara left Shepard’s crew and was in other parts of the galaxy generally being awesome. Shepard kept a picture of her in her room, and was committed to her, and was everything that a perfect Love should be during times of strain.

And then we picked up Garrus. Garrus is another character from the first game, and is generally the best character I have ever come across in a video game. (That. Voice. Brandon Keener, if you could just send me an MP3 of you reading the dictionary as Garrus, I would be set for life.) In my mind, Shepard was so excited to come across a battle comrade and friend. I spent a lot of time in the middle of some calibrations, and shooting the shit with such a well-designed character. I never conciously steered the conversation in any particular way – I did not want to have a romantic relationship with Garrus. To be completely honest, I saw them as friends who shared a lot of great inside jokes and stories.

Near the middle-end of Mass Effect 2, Shepard runs across Liara again. (Or was that only in Shadow Broker? I honestly do not remember anymore, because I played the entire game and DLC as one continuous loop.) Shepard was elated to be with her love again, and I steered the conversations toward rekindling what I had wanted to dive into since I bought the game. However, in moment of stress and despair, Liara shouts at Shepard, “I know about you and Garrus!”

As a player, I never thought about Shepard and Garrus being together. Not in that way at least. I mean, I brought him on nearly every mission – but that was because he was a crack shot with some history with Shepard. I was shocked, offended. Everything I wanted to be when starting this game: I wanted something that was going to completely rewrite the stereotype of what an epic, science fiction, action story was going to tell me. So I sat back and wrestled with the idea that maybe Shepard was developing feelings for Garrus. If that was so, what did it mean for her relationship with Liara?

There is an extremely touching scene after the Shadow Broker mission where Shepard invites Liara back up to her room. They talk about everything on their mind. Shepard still has feelings for this woman, and as a player, I did not know what was going to happen. (I actually still considered them to be together at this point – though I was suddenly feeling very guilty for what she said about Garrus.) But then the point of actually having sex with Liara came up. And all Liara needed from Shepard was confirmation in her feelings. I was hit with the classic (maybe cliched at this point?) “Me or Him” trope.

And I balked. I realized that the character I was building, and her relationship with Garrus, was taking her in a different direction than what was planned. And that blew my mind. I created such a fluid, realistic relationship in a science fiction epic between two aliens and a human. I literally created something that mirrored my own personal experiences without setting out to do that. In fact, I wanted something so different from who I am that I purposefuly went out of my way to create a character that challenged every aspect about my gender, race, ethnicity.

So do you know why I need diverse games? It’s because in diversity there is unity. In diversity, there is the chance for not just tolerance, but acceptance. In diversity, there is the chance to become in tune with cultures and people who are not one’s own. And, let’s be honest: in diversity, there is the chance to tell more stories than just the same old story done too many times. I do not need to save the damsel and shoot the (usually ethnic) bad guy in the face anymore. Can’t I be saved sometimes? Aren’t I in distress?

And for the record, Shepard and Garrus turned out to be the most satisfying and loving relationship I have ever seen portrayed on screen. To this day, the only cannon in my head is my own playthrough of the game. But your game may be (and probably will be) completely different. That’s the beauty of Mass Effect. You don’t have to prescribe to a single story. Because when has it ever worked that way in real life?