Even though use of stock images is very common among all forms of media, including stock footage, stock music, creative commons, and public domain works, gamers seem to have thrown quite a bit of anger in BioWare’s direction over the use of a stock image in Mass Effect 3 to portray the face of Tali.
A picture taken from Getty Images was used to depict Tali in an image for Mass Effect 3, who has appeared before with a mask over her face. Even though Shepard has likely seen her face, the player doesn’t. An image shown about on the internet captioned “Are you even trying, Bioware?” shows the image of Tali’s face and the stock photo from Getty Images alongside it. I’ve included it below.
There have been a few insults thrown in BioWare’s direction in recent years, including the writer Jennifer Hepler being harassed during an internet campaign. Quite a degree of nerd rage at BioWare is derived from Electronic Arts “telling them what to do” even though this couldn’t be much further from the truth, since BioWare has outright stated they don’t get interference from the higherups of the company.
Stock images are often used for minor things and are often heavily edited, cropped, or even completely unaltered. I myself have done it a few times in my own art (with credit of course).
A more reasonable theory is that BioWare are simply being trolls as Tali’s hidden face is quite a big deal as the player never gets to see it. It’s like showing the face of Wilson Wilson from Home Improvement in a trailer. That’s what I’m leaning towards, they’re just trolling, as there is no denying that BioWare has done a huge enough slew of original character designs to not have to rely on a lightly-edited stock image that can be very easy to recognize.
What do you all think? Did an artist somewhere get lazy, or is BioWare being snarky? I still have my doubts that something as ambiguous as the face of a masked woman would be shown so unceremoniously. Until I see it in 3D myself I’m going to think they’re trolling.