In every action film there is a slightly bookish computer whiz back in a dimly lit van controlling all the action while the secret agent on the ground gets all the credit. And martinis. While we’ve played the tough guy hundreds of times, we have yet to play an accurate “nerd in the van” simulator… until now.
My latest adventure took me from California to St. Augustine, Florida for EXP Con to see Commander Shepard; both versions of Commander Shepard, in fact. Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer were in attendance, meeting for the first time. Ali Hillis had been slated to attend but had to bow out due to a movie shoot. She did send her regards to us via a text to Ms.Hale (My inner Liara fangirl squeaked with delight at that). Over the course of the weekend there were three panels: an individual one for each on Saturday, followed by a joint one on Sunday.
“They did confirm what Bioware has been saying all along, ME3 is going to be big on action and emotion. Hale admitted she actually had to pause when recording one of the final scenes recently because it was so moving.”
Mark Meer: I really enjoyed the Mark Meer panel. He’s done a lot of incidental characters for Bioware, which I wasn’t aware of. The vorcha? That’s him. He even gave us a demonstration, which was creepy, as well as delivering a few lines as the drugged, self-proclaimed “biotic god.” The unnamed werewolves in Dragon Age: Origins? That’s him too. Shepard was his first lead role in a video game and he’s enjoyed it. Meer has played through both Mass Effect games, romanced Liara in the first game and Tali in the second, and always kills off Kaidan during the Virmire mission. He also enjoys comic books (the Walking Dead, Buffy, to name a couple) and Dungeons & Dragons where he usually rolls a spell caster.
Jennifer Hale: Jennifer Hale has been in the press quite a bit lately so I won’t be adding much to what’s been previously said. She doesn’t play video games, though she did play a bit of ME2 when doing her profile for the New Yorker, preferring outdoor pursuits. She also sings and writes music, describing her songs as being along the lines of Sheryl Crow/Shawn Colvin, but “darker.” While not naming a favorite love interest she did say she particularly loved the Liara/Shepard storyline, noting there aren’t a lot of same-sex relationships for people to connect with and recognizing the importance of the option for some players. She went on to add she was “stoked” to be on the forefront of showcasing that type of relationship in a game.
Q & A: Questions that were asked across all three panels included queries about their favorite lines, the consensus seemed to be renegade Shepard was fun to portray; favorite races, they both like krogan quite a bit; and which installment series was their favorite. Mass Effect 3 seemed to be the winner, though they couldn’t tell us why. They did confirm what Bioware has been saying all along, ME3 is going to be big on action and emotion. Hale admitted she actually had to pause when recording one of the final scenes recently because it was so moving.
Experience: My overall impression? These are two very talented and genuinely nice people. Both were incredibly gracious and warm in their interactions with fans. My friend Greg and I picked up our badges Friday night and happened to wander into the main room where autographs were being signed. There wasn’t a line for Jennifer Hale and Greg decided he wanted to get a picture with her. I was jetlagged, didn’t have any of my stuff that I wanted signed, so I hung back and played photographer. They chatted, posed for the picture, I think I smiled at her, and that was that. When we went back Saturday for my turn she remembered us both, which was a pleasant surprise. If you ever have a chance to see/meet one, or both, of these individuals I recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.
Natalie currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where she tries to balance full-time work and various nerdy hobbies. While being a huge Bioware fangirl, she also enjoys other video games (i.e. Arkam City, the Fable series) as well as comic books set in the DC universe