Designing an Alien Race: The Asari

Posted: March 26, 2015 in Gaming
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

asariconcept

The Asari

Asari are a mono gendered species resembling human females with blue skin. They are credited as superior intellects, possessors of natural telekinetic (or “biotic”) abilities and the first living race to discover interstellar travel. Shepard’s trusted ally, the Asari scientist and archaeologist Dr Liara T’Soni, sheds light on the past in the hope of preserving the future.

asaricommandoThe Asari are the closest species to humans physically as the race was fashioned with a potential love interest in mind. They can wear human armour and possess the most homo sapien faces (Liara’s particular features were based on the model Jillian Murray). However their relatability is balanced with their otherworldliness. In place of hair, Asari have tentacles. Skin tones range from teal to purple and emit a subtle glow. Facial markings create distinctions between individuals as can minor traits of that particular asari’s “father”, who may belong to any alien species.

There is a strong aquatic influence in the Asari design, most obvious in their blue colouring. In myth and folklore, water is a symbol of feminine energy, beauty and mystery as depicted in mermaids, sirens and water nymphs. The Asari scalp crest, which is shaped like a wave, was based on the image of a woman emerging from a pool with her hair slicked back. Up close fine, fish-like scales are visible on an asari’s skin. The motif extends beyond aesthetics as the fluidity and grace of their movement is also likened to water.

asari

The Asari are an abstract, almost idealised version of femininity. Though not technically female they use feminine pronouns, worship female deities and their life stages – maiden, matron and matriarch – echo the three phases of pagan womanhood. The inclusion of “blue space-babes” may sound cheap but it could be argued that Bioware were harking back to traditional iconography rather than conforming to cliché. Concept art shows the Asari in strong or contemplative poses, their allure coming from their inner power rather than their bodies. True, we see them dancing in seedier locales yet we’re just as likely to meet Asari diplomats, armoured commandos and, of course, Liara in her lab coat.

Liara T'Soni - "The doctor will pwn you now."

Liara T’Soni – “The doctor will pwn you now.”

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Comments
  1. lirlond says:

    Something you haven’t touched on is the asari ability to telepathically influence their appearance. They show traits of other races to appear more attractive to them. A Turian sees prolonged head fringes for example

    • Wee Lin says:

      That’s a very interesting point – it might only be other Asari that can see their true form (possibly the synthetics can see them too as they can’t breed with them either, as far as I know.) I figure their bodies would have to be fairly close to human-shaped, seeing as they can wear the same armour, but maybe we’re only seeing the ‘human’ version of their faces. Hmm… I wonder if any of the concept artists drew Asari from different species perspectives?

      Still, in terms of visual design, this is the one I had to work with. But who knows? Perhaps in the next game, we’ll be able to play as other races and see different versions of the Asari. Mind you… do we really want to see the Elcor version?

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