Codex Entry

“Reaper “indoctrination” is an insidious means of corrupting organic minds, “reprogramming” the brain through physical and psychological conditioning using electromagnetic fields, infrasonic and ultrasonic noise, and other subliminal methods. The Reaper’s resulting control over the limbic system leaves the victim highly susceptible to its suggestions.

Organics undergoing indoctrination may complain of headaches and buzzing or ringing in their ears. As time passes, they have feelings of “being watched” and hallucinations of “ghostly” presences. Ultimately, the Reaper gains the ability to use the victim’s body to amplify its signals, manifesting as “alien” voices in the mind.

Indoctrination can create perfect deep cover agents. A Reaper’s “suggestions” can manipulate victims into betraying friends, trusting enemies, or viewing the Reaper itself with superstitious awe. Should a Reaper subvert a well-placed political or military leader, the resulting chaos can bring down nations.

Long-term physical effects of the manipulation are unsustainable. Higher mental functioning decays, ultimately leaving the victim a gibbering animal. Rapid indoctrination is possible, but causes this decay in days or weeks. Slow, patient indoctrination allows the thrall to last for months or years.” -Mass Effect 3 Codex on Indoctrination

Click HERE to hear this entry.

During the 3rd game we hear the Reaper sounds more and more. These sounds are similar to a buzzing or ringing. The dream scenes she has have a ringing sound to them as well. The codex also mentions that slow indoctrination is possible. They can do use several subliminal methods to do this so Shepard does not need to be around reapers for it to happen. In the beginning of the game Shepard sees a young boy and wants to save him, but he disappears. Later in the game she has ominous dreams of a forest of unending trees and this boy is in them. These are “ghostly presences”. Then to further support this the Catalyst appears as this young boy. This supports the idea that this last part is in Shepard’s mind as does the reflection of trees. Trees can just barely be seen reflecting on the ground in this scene. While it is not easily apparent, it could subliminally affect viewers. The boy and the trees combined supports that the ending is also a dream state. Also Shepard’s posture of laying before the catalyst reflects the posture she has when facing the leviathan and he has total control over her mind.

The trees can be seen easier when looking at this cubemap.

The trees can be seen easier when looking at this cube map.


Here it shows the trees seen in game.

Here it shows the trees seen in game.



What is the Indoctrination Theory?

The Indoctrination Theory is a theory that states that the ending scene of Mass Effect 3 happened in Shepard’s mind. That the choice to assimilate was caused by this indoctrination. The believers of the theory use evidence from all three games and even from the novels to support it. Bioware refuses to acknowledge it as a possibility. However, as with written text once the author sends the information off into the world the recipient can interpret is as they like. I feel that this interpretation is a very great one as it is supported by a large amount of evidence from within the texts.

Commander Shepard

Commander Shepard is a graduate from the System Alliance N7 program. When we start the game he/she is an executive officer for the SSV Normandy. As I stated in POV you can customize the background and psychological profile of your Shepard. The background options don’t change much about Shepard’s character. The psychological profile changes whether you start as Paragon, Neutral or Renegade. Whether Shepard is Paragon or Renegade, he/she is not a bad person. This is because Shepard is always fighting for the galaxy. This is a goal that a totally self-centered person would not have. Shepard ends up sacrificing herself for the galaxy. So if we look at an alignment chart used in the role playing game D&D:


Shepard as a Paragon is neutral good. He/she is not really lawful good because in the course of events in the game he ends up breaking laws. Renegade Shepard is more chaotic good. The best definition of Chaotic good is Robin Hood, he does what he wants but all for a good purpose. He lives outside the law but still has a moral code. After being made a spectre Shepard lives “above” the law anyways. Renegade Shepard isn’t nice when he/she doesn’ t want to be. Doesn’t take orders well. Lives by “I do whatever I want and I am saving this galaxy by whatever means necessary.” For a person who has been in the military Shepard really isn’t as lawful as you would think.

Through interacting with other characters you can find out more about Shepard and the other characters. The more time you put into exploring dialogue options, the more you discover about the universe. So a more determined player might become more attached to Shepard because of this.  No matter what you chose to do with your Shepard you will likely become attached to him/her because you make their decisions.

Overall Shepard is a badass. He/She can do almost anything, He/She has experienced a lot of fighting and training. Shepard is made the first human spectre and spends all three games defending the galaxy against all odds. Being Commander Shepard makes you feel badass and invincible. This feeling is a large part of why Mass Effect is popular, and a big reason why it is easy to “indoctrinate” the player as well as the character.

Shepard’s interactions with Leviathan, his/her dreams, how his/her looks change and how his/her views change will all be focused on in later posts and all have evidence to support the Indoctrination Theory.

Point of View

Mass Effect is a third person view game, you aren’t looking as if from the characters eyes like in COD or Goldeneye. You see your characters back and so are more aware of your surroundings. However it is first person in the sense that you are Commander Shepard and you make his/her decisions. You can change the first name of your Shepard, you can change the appearance of he and you can choose the background of your character: Spacer, Earthling or Spacer. All of these things can give you extra side missions. You chose whether you were a war hero, ruthless, or a sole survivor. These options change the interactions in a few of the side missions. No matter what you chose you can later be a paragon or renegade or even do both, however most players chose just one or the other for the most part. All of these things make you have a connection with Shepard. The friendships you make are integral to making you feel as though you are living the game. You are Shepard’s mind and you make decisions that alter what happens. The decisions you make in Mass Effect go on to Mass Effect 2 and then to Mass Effect 3. Because of this you feel connected through all three. You feel that you have experienced everything that Shepard went through and this causes you to be emotionally attached. You are Shepard’s brain and he just does the dirty work. Because you are Shepard, the game has to indoctrinate you in order to indoctrinate Shepard. This point of view where you are Shepard causes you to be emotionally involved, making it possible for you to be brainwashed into the indoctrination.

So here is something to think about…

Were you indoctrinated?

Overview of Goals

During my 4th replay of the Mass Effect trilogy I will be writing an analysis of the game centered on finding support for the Indoctrination Theory. Before replaying the game and taking many details into account I would like to first lay out what I will look for in different categories. Each blog post will deal with a certain part of the game. I plan on writing my analysis and posting pictures and videos from other sources that pertain to this topic.

Character: In Mass Effect you meet your team as you play and each one has their own opinions. They will, for the most part, come along with you no matter what you do. In the end you have to choose between Ashley and Kaiden, romances that may be occurring between Shepard and one of these crew members may effect the decision of the player. In Mass Effect 2 you spend time searching for your crew, get to know them well and in the end some may be sacrificed in the suicide mission. The more side missions you complete, the greater the survival rate of your crew. I remember my crushing sadness when 3 of my people died and I did not know why. In Mass Effect 3 some characters may be dead because of actions in the second, or may not be very loyal to you, one thing this changes is whether or not you can save the Quarians and the Geth. I will look at hoe the characters change throughout the story. Also looking into how people feel like they can’t do certain actions because they don’t want to be mean to fictional characters. Disliked characters may tent to be “flat” unchanging throughout the series. Reflecting a stubbornness against change. Characters are easy to compare and contrast. Characters have arguments with one another. Many have unwavering loyalty to Shepard.

Codex Entries: The codex entry on Indoctrination says a lot that supports the Indoctrination Theory.

Setting: On the Normandy, Citadel, several different planets. Changes when fighting, certain colors more prominent at different times. By looking at how the setting looks at the ending and comparing it to her dream state and also to other scenes similarly colored I will be able to support the Indoctrination theory.

Plot: Each game changes the view of the Galaxy and of discrimination. Each plot focuses around key characters how those are similar in each plot and how it makes an overall plot.

Theme: Anti-Discrimination. Discrimination against Quarians is shown in the second game when a Citadel guard is persecuting an innocent Quarian. Because of Tali’s presence on Shepard’s crew, a liking for Quarians may develope.

Imagery: Imagery from her dreams and from meeting Leviathan is similar to imagery in the ending. This supports the Indoctrination Theory.

Tone: Dark, with an aura of impending doom. The entire series centers around the small hope of survival.

Point of View: Unlike a text a video game really immerses you into first person. Mass effect is a 3rd person shooter meaning you see him walking and don’t look through his eyes. But at the same time it is a first person narrative because you are Shepard. If the gamer were a first person shooter it would change your viewpoint just as in text. but in comparison to text it is in first person. You can customize your character further bringing you into the story and making it you own. The characters are YOUR crew, YOUR friends. It has a significant impact on the player

There is much supporting evidence for the Indoctrination Theory and with some hard work I will be able to look in depth at the game and make my own analysis of it.