The Girl with the Digital Face

It was the strangest thing. For weeks something had been whispering at the back of my mind. An idea that would tiptoe around the edges of my understanding, then disappear the moment I tried to gather it closer. Like a glitch in the Matrix, or that dawning horror of a forgotten anniversary. Then it revealed itself…how could I have missed this for so long?

The moment of revelation came in a recent episode of Dexter. I’ve long admired the show which features everybody’s favourite serial killer, but it was during the last season that this gnawing feeling had begun to manifest. More specifically whenever a certain actress was in a scene. Yvonne Strahovski plays the beautiful, but very deadly, Hannah McKay who charms her way into our hero Dexter’s rather black heart. There are many reasons why you’d be drawn to her whenever she’s on-screen, her copious gorgeousness not withstanding, but I knew it was something else. She seemed…familiar. I don’t know what finally made the connection, maybe her head tilted at a certain angle, the light dancing across her cheekbones, or a dreamlike wandering that placed a laser rifle and supernatural telekinetic powers in her elegant frame, but in an instant I saw it.

‘She’s the girl in Mass Effect!’ I cried to general disinterest and probable confusion.

Miranda for real

And there it was. For the first time in my life I had recognised an actress who had appeared in a video game, but not from her voice – as you would more reasonably expect – but from her actual face. Now, any gamer out there who has ever gone to a sci-fi convention or Googled the word Cosplay has probably seen ladies and gentlemen of the more flamboyant persuasion dressed rather convincingly in the costumes of their favourite avatars. We’ve all wondered at the copious Lara Crofts, Master Chiefs, and Little Sisters that decorate those environs, but to have it happen in reverse…well, it was odd.

It created a strange mental relationship with her. After all I had fought the greatest threat to the galaxy mankind has ever known with her, or Miranda Lawson as she was going by then, at my side. We had clashed over her elitist views on alien integration, then shared moments of intimate confession as she told me how her father had scientifically experimented on her. We had rescued her sister, saved the universe, and engaged in awkwardly animated conjugal relations on the mid decks of the Normandy spacecraft. We had history.

Now she was this….woman. Flesh and blood arranged in a spectacularly pleasing fashion. But she wasn’t the same. Hannah McKay had no military training. Not once in the series did I see her pilot a spacecraft, shoulder a pulse rifle, or don an incredibly tight uniform and stand with her bottom directly in the line of the camera. What was happening?

Now the mirror has been cracked, who knows where it will end? Will Cortana turn up as a Dornish maiden in Game of Thrones? Shall I brace myself for the sight of Mario playing a mob-leader suspected of murder in an upcoming episode of Castle? Or Marcus Fenix singing his favourite show-tunes on Glee?

Be afraid people, be very afraid…