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Hair Wars! 'Mass Effect' heroine needs a color

Should the official FemShep ofBioWare

When you think of an alien-fighting, galaxy-saving heroine, do you imagine a blond? A brunette? Do you imagine her with jet black hair? Or (gasp) might you fancy her a ginger?

BioWare continues to shine the spotlight on the much-loved, oft-ignored female version of the hero and star of the best-selling "Mass Effect" games – Commander Shepard. In a second round of Facebook voting, they're asking gamers to select the hair color for the official FemShep (as our lady commander is known) as they prepare to give her some public face time.

If you haven't played the epic space-faring "Mass Effect" games, the deal is this: You play Commander Shepard – a badass hero out to save the galaxy from all manner of alien and non-alien threats. But while almost all of the official marketing materials for the game (box art, screenshots, etc.) show Shepard as a man, players actually get to choose which gender Shepard is at the start of the game.

You can play as the famed ManShep or you can play as FemShep. Not only that, players get to thoroughly adjust the character's look as well – selecting hair color, skin color, nose shape, eye shape, etc.

Despite not having any official presence in the game's marketing materials, FemShep has earned quite a following and BioWare has decided to give her more play as they gear up to launch "Mass Effect 3."  They have plans to put FemShep on the forthcoming game's box art (a first) and plan to release a trailer featuring her (also a first).

But first, they need to settle on her official look. To do so, they recently let gamers select between six FemShep variations featuring different facial structure, hair style and skin color. The blond with the long messy hair won the voting in a landslide.

But (thankfully) we're not stuck with a blond commander. BioWare is now asking gamers to revisit that FemShep and vote on her official hair color. Will it be blond, brown, black or red?

There are a few improvements I think could be made to DudeShep. How about we put it to a vote?BioWare

And you'll never guess who's currently in the lead: GingerShep ... with more than 13,600 votes! Yes, at this time she's beating BlondShep by more than 9,600 votes.

OK, so my Msnbc co-hort Helen Popkin (notice the color of her hair) points out that the above Shepard isn't a true ginger. She's actually a Daywalker (to put it in South Park terms.) And while I'd call the ginger lead a surprise upset, Helen points out that the redhead is sure to win with gamers ... all thanks to Felicia Day.

If red isn't your color, let it be known the voting is far from over. You have until the Penny Arcade Expo opens Aug. 26 to register your vote by clicking "like" on the FemShep you, well, like. (Be warned, you first have to "like" the main "Mass Effect 2" page before you can vote.)

But, you know, I have to admit ... I'm starting to have mixed feelings about this whole FemShep selection process. I'm happy that she is getting all of this much-deserved attention. And since we the players are given the power in the game to choose her features for ourselves, giving players the power to do so officially does make some sense.

Still, all this public voting on her physical attributes is starting to get ... a bit creepy. She's an ass-kicking, galaxy-saving commander, for crying out loud — not some prissy runway model to be ogled and judged by the unwashed masses. The Shepard I've come to know and love doesn't care if you like her or not.

I know, how about BioWare give us a chance to pipe in with improvements that could be made to the official DudeShep? I, for one, think his close-set eyes look creepy. And what's with that pointy nose? How about something a little more rugged?

Of course, I'm not so incensed that I haven't cast my vote. GothShep all the way!

(Thanks to The Escapist for the heads up.)

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Winda Benedetti writes about games for You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+.And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.