Shadowrun started as an alternate-universe tabletop role-playing game, where magic, elves, dwarves, monsters, and cyberpunk themes and technology are the norm in a modern-day scenario. Think of Netflix’s Bright. Hairbrained Schemes took this setting and made three amazing turn-based combat strategy games, where players take on the role of a newly minted Shadowrunner, someone trying to survive, hack, fight back against evil forces, and maybe even make a few credits along the way. You can have three party members along with you on missions, and over the span of three games, the most memorable for me is Glory. Glory is a Street Samurai and Medic, meaning she can do significant damage at close range and also heal your team. You meet her in the second game, Dragonfall, which started as an expansion to Shadowrun Returns, but then got fully upgraded to a standalone game in Dragonfall: Director’s Cut.
Looking like she’s coming from a kickboxing class after working on a car, Glory is dressed in a black jumpsuit tied off at the waist and a sports bra; it seems at first as if she is there to invite the male gaze. But she also has two huge cybernetic arms with claws on the end, making her into a robo-Lady Deathstrike. Her appearance is further augmented (eh!) by her cold and dismissive behavior early in the game. It’s only by talking to her and giving her a supportive ear can you learn about her troubled past, and eventually go on her personal mission to help free her from a literal demon. You can’t romance your teammates like in Mass Effect or Dragon Age, so there isn’t an end-goal of getting her to the bedroom (which frankly, would be terrifying with those claws). So your character’s only driving goal is to help, and be there as a friend. You as a player may be driven by curiosity about her backstory as well, but that doesn’t mean you’re not helping. I think it would have seemed cheap and hollow if you were “rewarded” by falling into bed or love with her at the end of the game. It’s okay to have female characters and teammates that exist as their own persons and not just to appeal to male players.
Without spoiling too much for a 5-year old game, Glory was the victim of abuse and manipulation at a young age. It makes sense why she’s cold and distant at first as you parse out small bits of information in-between missions , and why if you push her too much she’ll shut down or tell you to back off. It’s only by constantly being there, and giving her time to talk on her terms and timeline that you can get her to open up. By the end of her personal mission, you will have: learned her whole past including the reason behind her cyber arms; released her from an evil entity; punished the cult behind her dark past for their current and past evil deeds (depending on your choices); or freed several children that were forced into a situation similar to that of her youth.
In John 15, Jesus speaks about the parable of the Vine and the Branches and reminds the disciples what love looks like. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15:13). By continually going on missions and putting your character’s life on the line, especially in her personal mission, players are able to show Glory what kind of steadfast friend they are. And by consistently being there as a friendly and non-judgmental ear, players are fulfilling Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” It doesn’t get much more adverse than surviving an ambush by corporate mercenaries while dodging spells and fighting to free a mythological beast.
If Glory were a real person, her dark past might pose an issue for some. But as Christians, we’re called to love, not judge. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s Grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:8-10). Now I kiiiinda doubt Peter had a troubled girl with robo-arms in mind when he wrote that to Christians in his era, but if you’re having trouble with my metaphor let me put it this way: love people. Love them like you love yourself (Mark 12:31). Show them the kind of love that Christ did, and when they ask how you’re able to do so in this day and age that’s just as dingy, heavy, and scary at times as any Bladerunner movie or Shadowrun game, just smile and tell ’em, “Because of Jesus.”