His Sick Mother Wanted To Play Mass Effect, So He Played For Her

For Daniel Starkey, Mass Effect isn't just the story of fighting the reapers and saving the galaxy. It's also a story about his mother, the person his FemShep is modelled after.

Writing for Gameranx, Starkey walks us through the life and struggles of his mother, an altruistic woman who is deeply in love with sci-fi. She loves sci-fi so much in fact, that she once bought a second TV set just so that she could play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic while she also watched the sci-fi channel.

Her vast love for the genre makes sense. Sci-fi, after all, can be thought of as the promise of a better future — and when we consider that Starkey's mum worked tirelessly to help the community as a social worker, that's no small thing.

She wanted to pass on that devotion and idealism, so she'd regularly remind Starkey of what her work meant to others.

She made me listen to voicemails from people she had helped. "This. This is what it's about," she would say. "This is why it's important. This means something to someone. It may seem small, but everything you do, every single thing can be used to help real people."

After spending over a thousand hours in Knights of the Old Republic, Starkey's mother looked out to Bioware's next sci-fi game: Mass Effect. Mother and son got excited over the title, and waited patiently for it to drop. They'd go halfsies on a new Xbox, with Daniel selling his Pokemon cards so that he could afford the 360.

Then his mum got sick, developing two autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. After waiting two years for Mass Effect, she couldn't play it anymore: the arthritis reduces the functionality of the joints. Compared to Knights of the Old Republic, which is slower and turn based, Mass Effect required too much of her.

So Starkey did the next best thing: he played Commander Shepard as his mother.

Despite her diagnosis, I wanted to have my mum with me, even if she couldn't experience the game in quite the same way. Instead, I began modelling my version of Commander Shepard after my mother. I gave her the same sense of altruism, of dedication and of hope for a better future. She gave second chances and she was uncompromising in her pursuit of her pro-social ideals, in spite of her sordid past.

We all role-play a little when it comes to games, but for Starkey, playing as his mother was much more personal. They say you can't truly understand someone until you walk in their shoes, and in a way, that's what playing Mass Effect was for him. A way to understand his mother.

What he learns and comes to realise about his mother by playing as her in the Mass Effect franchise is as revealing as it is heart-wrenching. This is especially true when we consider the suicide mission that Shepard undergoes in Mass Effect 2, as well as the ending of Mass Effect 3 — this, in conjunction with all the important moments that happen in-between. It's a good parallel for a woman that put so much of herself to help others out, regardless of what the cost was.

His account of his Mass Effect playthrough and its relation to his mother is definitely worth a read. Check it out here.

My Mother, Commander Shepard [Gameranx]



    Last edited 06/12/12 10:40 am

      That's harsh. I play blackops 2 cos I uhhh like shooting shit.

      I honestly think you should be banned after that comment, good thing i don't have the powers. Being someone who can do things like every other normal person i assume as you assume everyone can do the same things regardless of life postion. I hope you find the down side to life and experience it for yourself, such a heartless person like you have implied on yourself that you should just go find a deep dark hole and don't come back.

      Loosing motor skills is not a easy thing to deal with and this kids mother would of seen it all with her profession, what i want to know is what have you done with your life that is meaningful apart from putting others down Guybrush Threepwood.

      I really hope your proud of your comment.


        Last edited 06/12/12 10:40 am

          You're still a douche though. Just because it's true doesn't mean you have to be saying it.


            Last edited 06/12/12 10:40 am


          I do have a pair, i am a human being and a man. i grew up and started taking care of life, you should try it sometime.

          Do you really think that he would not play it himself based on greed, did you even read the article you stupid waste of space. A family that share a love for something in this world is a rare thing, not many family's can do such things but these people wanted to improve this world and filter out the haters and trolls like yourself. Even with the bad luck down the road they made the best of it, there was no greed in the kid there was only an experience that he wanted to share with someone that wanted to enjoy life and do what they liked together. I really can't believe that you are so ignorant that you would try and blame the kid for being greedy. Did you even read the article? With a multiple choice open world was based on the choices of another person? This kid gave his mother honor which is something you don't and never will have.

          Now i don't know if your just a pure asshole or your step farther had some boundary issues but do the world a favor, get off the internet.

          Why all the hate everyone, this kids mother laid down the right path in front of him to show that you don't have to be a careless cunt like most people commenting here. But you know what, i live a good life because i choose to as the same to these people in the article.

          if people want to talk about greed what was the last selfless thing you have done that did not involve buying your way out of it?

          At least i can live my life with honor which is more then most people can actually do!

      The real Guybrush wouldn't represent ideals as fucked up as yours.

    After my mum had a stroke, she wasn't able to drive a car anymore. One time she came into my room and saw me playing Forza with my new racing wheel, and she asked if she could have a go... it was the only way she could 'drive' again, and she was so happy, even if she wasn't very good at it.

    I love you video games.

    I would ban you because you seem to lack the fundamental ability to spell "really", and use proper capitalisation.

    And anyway, what is the point of your comment? It isn't constructive in any way, and while you may be voicing your opinion, you are doing it in an extremely vitriolic way.

    Ah, it would be nice if "reply to" worked the first time, or if the edit button worked.

    Just read the full story on the link provided. Christ, I think I broke a gasket because I do believe I'm leaking.

    It's always great to have these roses in the garden of weeds that is the common perception that games are nothing but a destructive force. The title was a little misleading though. I came in expecting that the guy was actually playing the game for his mother and she was watching and making the decisions for him. Still, it was really touching to see that he knew his mother so well and was able to use the game to come to terms with what was going on around him.

    Last edited 05/12/12 8:42 pm

    This may be harsh, but I can't wait until Guybrush's mother dies, it might teach him a thing about compassion. Watching your mother shit herself because she is in a morphine induced coma so the pain from the cancer killing her doesn't leave her writhing in pain does something to your outlook.

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