Assuming Direct Control: Transformation and Identity in the Mass Effect Series

  • Raquel EspadaEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


It is widely recognised that transformation in different iterations is one of the main themes in the Mass Effect video game series. This chapter will address the effects of body transformation and what it means for the identity of both Commander Shepard, the main character of the series, and the alien race of the Collectors. Shepard’s death and her/his consequent resurrection in Mass Effect 2 into a technologically augmented human as a tool for someone else’s cause will be examined, in addition to how the Collectors underwent a similar genetic reorientation but, possessing no consciousness of what had happened to them, ended up as a race with no real personhood. Science fiction is known to be a genre that frequently explores the subject of what it means to be a person—whether human or alien—given technological augmentation and genetic engineering. Using the entities of Commander Shepard and the Collectors as a starting point, this chapter will focus on their relation to underlying identitarian themes from the first three games of the series, articulating this relation in terms of cultural and philosophical concepts such as the Self, consciousness, conscience, and humanity.


Video games Transformation Identity Mass Effect Personhood Consciousness Humanity 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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