My Secret Crush: Kaidan Alenko

Carina Press author Jenn Burke is here this week to reveal her inner gamer and share her Secret Crush!

My ultimate crush is: Kaidan Alenko.

I can hear you all now. Don’t bother to deny it. You’re all looking at each other with befuddled expressions, whispering, “Who on earth is Kaidan Alenko?”

Well, don’t worry. I am an unrepentant Kaidan Alenko fangirl and I am here to educate you.

In 2007, I started playing a video game my husband had originally picked up for himself. “You’ll like it,” he said. “It’s set in space and there’s adventure and you get an awesome ship…just play it.” So I did. That game was the first Mass Effect, and sure enough, it sucked me into the world of Commander Shepard (the player character), Reapers (huge alien invaders), mass relays (space teleportation gates), and the Citadel (where weird alien politics happen). Oh, and it introduced me to Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko, one of the members of Commander Shepard’s team.

See, BioWare—the maker of the Mass Effect series (and, later, the Dragon Age series)—is well known for inserting romantic storylines in their games. The player character always has a bevy of love interests to choose from and a romantic storyline that’s unique to each. It really adds a lot of depth to the games and makes the characters that much more human (even in the aliens’ cases—and yes, you can romance some aliens). In the three games of the Mass Effect series, the player controls Shepard through the course of three years with a lot of drama and trauma—because, of course, the games are first and foremost adventure games. During this time, Shepard’s actions shape the galaxy and affect the personalities of his or her team members.

Kaidan Alenko is no exception. He starts out the series as a competent if not stellar officer in the Alliance Navy and the reason for that becomes clear quickly—Kaidan is a biotic (someone who can manipulate and move matter with his mind) and because of frightening events in his childhood as he was learning how to control his abilities, he’s always held back. By the end of the first game, Kaidan realizes that he can’t hold back any longer—not professionally and not his heart, either. And although the romantic storyline is sweet and makes me swoon, it’s his development as a character separate from the romance that I really find compelling. By the third game (which happens three years later), he’s achieved the rank of Major and is in command of a squad of special ops soldiers—a huge leap in responsibility for the guy you met in the first game.

In video games, it’s common for recurring characters to need something from the player character—they need the PC’s help to carry out a quest or solve a mystery or something. I think one of the things that makes Kaidan’s character so interesting in this context is that he never asks Shepard for anything. He’s a fully realized character whose development does not hinge on the PC’s choices in any of the games. Serving with Shepard—the badass of all badasses—prompts Kaidan to put more of himself into his work, but he doesn’t do it with the hope of impressing him or her. It’s just the right thing to do.

Other than the psychic abilities, I can picture Kaidan as a regular guy I might meet at work. He’s a hard worker, a nice guy with some alpha tendencies but recognizes when he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He’s a guy that had a crappy childhood but came back from it on his own; he doesn’t need anyone to fix him. He’s a hero, but also a guy I can respect, not just drool over, and that makes him my ultimate crush.

Thanks for educating us on this amazing hero, Jenn! Do you have a #SecretCrush everyone should know? Tell us below in comments!