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Mass Effect's Commander Shepard was created as a woman

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Commander Shepard, the player-created hero of BioWare's Mass Effect trilogy, began life as a woman, developer Jonathan Cooper revealed on Twitter today.

Cooper is currently an animator on Uncharted 4: A Thief's End at Naughty Dog, but he previously worked at Ubisoft Montreal as the animation director for Assassin's Creed 3, and prior to that, at BioWare as the animation lead on Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. He said today that 10 years ago this month, he did the first animation test for the character that would become the protagonist of the Mass Effect series.

The 3-second animation, which you can watch below, consists of a character model turning while jogging forward. The character is clearly a woman.

"Yup, Commander Shepard was originally a woman," said Cooper.

That settles it once and for all: FemShep is the one true Commander Shepard. This is definitely canon, right, BioWare?

Check out our coverage of BioWare's most recent N7 Day roundtable for more on the next Mass Effect game.

Update: Cooper noted in a follow-up tweet that the motion capture itself was repurposed from BioWare's previous game, Jade Empire. He added that, as we assumed, BioWare was always going to allow the player to choose the gender of their Commander Shepard in Mass Effect.

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