Friday, November 7, 2014

What N7 Day Means to Me

"What does N7 mean to you?" BioWare asked in a blog post last month in anticipation of November 7th, now celebrated as N7 Day by Mass Effect fans. Well, buckle up, sit back, and get ready because I am going to tell you exactly what N7 means to me!!

We all know by now that I'm a huge fan of this series. I got an N7 tattoo immediately after finishing the game, and a half sleeve of Commander Shepard shortly after that. I'M A LITTLE OBSESSED. This game showed me a female character who I love more than anything. It introduced me to a fictional world that is so vivid and engaging that it's real to me. It's part of me.

But what N7 really really means to me, even more than the deep (and frankly impossible-to-express-in-mere-words) way it touched me, is connection. It means discovering an incredibly vast and welcoming fan base of people who are just as in love with the Mass Effect series, are just as emotionally invested, and wanna bang Garrus just as much as I do. Being a fan is more than just enthusiasm about the game. It's about sharing the experience with people who have that same enthusiasm, and letting that excitement bounce back and forth and grow into art, music, stories, conversation, whatever, inspired by this one thing we all love together.

Which brings me to the best, best thing I got out of the ridiculously intense emotional experience that was my first playthrough of Mass Effect. And by "thing" I mean person. And by person I mean Stacey. It's Stacey. Stacey is the best thing to come of Mass Effect for me, let's be real. Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone who you immediately get along with, who has the exact same stupid sense of humor as you, who understands all of your weird-as-shit personality quirks because they have those same quirks, and who just gets you? 100%? That's Stacey. I've never even met her in real life and we've only known each other for a short time, but I trust her as much as I trust family. It feels like we've been friends our whole lives.

I feel super lucky to have multiple girl friends who are like sisters to me, who I would kill and die for, and who I would trust with my life and all of my darkest, weirdest secrets. Stacey is now one of them (a friend, not a weird secret). She could call me in the middle of the night and ask me to drive through the night to LA and help her hide the body of the man she just murdered, and I would do it. No question. I'd engage in fisticuffs for her. No seriously, I would take a punch in the face. I'd also give as many punches in the face as I could manage with my very limited reach. And I'd play any goddamn video game she wanted me to, just to talk to her while doing multiplayer. EVEN SCARY ONES. Even Call of Duty.

And the thing is, Stacey is the one person I lived Mass Effect with. We played it almost in tandem; I finished the game after her, but she stayed up until 3:00 in the morning the day I finished so she could talk me down when I lost all of my shit as the credits rolled. She understood completely every ridiculous Mass Effect-related thought I had, every moment that upset me or made me laugh or made me cry. You know how at the end of Speed, Keanu Reeves says to Sandra Bullock, "I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work"? Well he was DEAD WRONG because going through one of the most intense emotional experiences I've ever endured (aside from like, you know, breakups and the deaths of loved ones I guess, although this weirdly comes close?) with Stacey forged our bond like the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Which means it's strong. It's a strong-as-fuck bond.

I used to be so worried that as we stopped replaying and replaying Mass Effect and moved on to other things, that our friendship would fade or diminish in some way. But it's only gotten stronger as we discover new things we have in common, and are continually reminded how similar we are. I just love her so much, you guys. It's stupid. And I may never have realized just how much I love her without Mass Effect.

So thank you, Mass Effect. Thank you Commander Shepard. Thank you Biotic God, thank you Thane in the vents, thank you "behind the crates", thank you Kaidan's scream in London, thank you Wrex cosplayer with the tiny arms. Thank you BioWare, you fucking brilliant assholes. N7 means the world to me because N7 means Stacey.

Love you, bae.

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