Friday, January 7, 2011

Gears of War 3 to Feature Bernie Mataki

Now, for those of you who know me well enough to have heard me proclaim my love of Karen Traviss and her Gears of War novelization- usually that takes 2 drinks and 15 minutes- you'll know that they are amazing.

In the novels, which cover the periods before and between the console games, Traviss has added profound emotional depth that one can't really expect from cut scenes. I was deeply moved by scenes in the games based on the back story and resonance that had been built into the main characters in the novels, Dom's search for his wife held new depth, Marcus' every grunt held new nuance and subtlety.

You'll also know that they feature a particularly compelling female Gear (soldier), Bernadette "Bernie" Mataki who is not only a hard-core badass of the highest order, but who is a woman of a certain age.

While I will fully admit that she looks a bit less aged than she might for someone in her 50s or 60s, though the books do suggest that she looks a bit more weathered.  I love the character far too much based on Traviss' brilliant authorship to allow myself to get too worked up about the visuals... yet. Bernie, who is often called Granny, is the same age as the COG commander, Victor Hoffman.

In the future, no one has wrinkles, just fairly smooth joweling.
So, by video game visual standards for women, she's non-traditional.  One of her most charming qualities in the novelizations is her perceived lack of femininity: she's a Gear, an infantryman through and through, she's a hard-cursing, hard-fighting crude pain in the ass, and she'd kill anyone who says differently. There is much hay made about her lack of femininity, and her being treated as a Gear, not as a women. She is far from the only female Gear, but she is probably the oldest and most respected. It is interesting to see that juxtaposed with the sexy lady above, but despite the thoughts I have having read the novels, one can make a serious argument that if Karen Traviss is writing the game, she may have pictured Bernie differently. After all, people in their 50s aren't grizzled sea hags these days.

Daryl Hannah is in her fifties.
Bernie does have a romantic life, with Hoffman in fact over a period of decades; she is not sexless, she is simply older and a warrior. Depending on how the game portrays the character, her appearance may be contextualized in a way that is more compelling than a knee jerk aesthetic analysis can yield. 

Not pictured, the crushing of one's enemies, seeing them driven before one, and the lamentation of the Berzerkers.
The only thing that I felt was truly missing for me was that the female characters that Traviss had spent time developing in the novels were in the background, or completely unseen in Gears of War 2. But, with their addition to Gears of War 3, I am willing to forgive completely and buy in with my whole heart, hoping intensely that I will not be let down in a horrific soul shattering way (I'm looking at you METROID: OTHER M)

With Karen Traviss also listed as writer for Gears of War 3, I am especially optimistic. Her track record with this franchise is excellent, and her other work, the Wess'har Wars and her work with Halo and Star Wars are also phenomenal, coupling strong heroines, environmental awareness and totally awesome, brutal, kick-ass action.

Seriously, what point is there in saving the world if there are no women?


  1. You do realize that the person in that picture you're using is of Anya Stroud, not Bernie Mataki, don't you? LOLz

  2. That makes a lot more sense, thank goodness. Now if only there was a picture of Bernie Mataki released for press that was large enough to actually get a view of her...

    Thanks for the heads up =)

  3. Glad to be of help. =] And in case you haven't seen it yet, they have released a pic of her on the Gears of War wiki. She looks just as she is described as in the books.

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