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Lines Need to be Drawn

Posted on April 2, 2012 at 3:40 PM



Much has been made about the ending to a certain video game lately. Now, you might think it's the ending to Angry Birds Space, but you're only slightly off. It's the space-epic-opera known as Mass Effect. The third and final entry in this saga was released a while ago. People bought. A lot. People played. A lot. As weeks went by, more and more began to come out about the ending. Fanboy anger grew because they felt the ending wasn't "fitting" for their space opera video game. The internet, the bastion for fanboy rage, began to scream in a single voice about it. A petition was formed and sent to Bioware to change the ending. A week or so ago, Bioware said they would. A week or so ago, the idea of video games being "art" or being taken seriously probably died. If an outcry of a minority (and it was a minority of fans, 56,000 on a Facebook page is pretty minor in comparison to the millions the game sold).


Look, it's fine to be critical, but you aren't entitled to demand change just because you're a fan of something and don't agree with how it ends. The fact that Bioware is conceding to fan demand is absolutely pathetic and, in my mind, puts the idea of games being taken seriously back ten years. I've seen the ending. It's fine. I got online and watched the other endings. They're fine too. Shephard completes his journey, we're shown the result(s) of his final choice(s) and we're left to wonder what will become of the universe as a result of his presence and actions.


Ever hear the phrase "it's the journey, not the destination?" If you think about Mass Effect, its epic three-game spanning story, it's sense of polish and refinement, attention to detail and history. Just overall quality in general, really. Take that and think for a moment: that journey was so good, so well done, that I think trying to encompass it all into an ending that will satisfy everyone would have been impossible. Everyone, especially consdiering the multiple choices and decisions along the way, would have had their own experience and view on what type of ending they would want. The ending we got dealt with pretty much the only direct point it could, and even needed to, -  an ending to Shephard's story.  Roll credits. I think that's all you could do, isn't it? Hell, that's all we really could ask for. But people have lofty presumptions f things, and when something doesn't fit into their view they unleash their collective voices on the internet - the mouthpiece of complaining about anything.


I suppose my biggest gripe isn't the man-children complaining, but Bioware's conceding. That sends a horrible message to fans, who now think they can go back and re-write as they please (in the same way they criticize someone like George Lucas for revisions) and a horrible message to writers and developers who spend years creating something. Even worse, is how quickly they did it. People going online and complaining about something isn't new. They do it all the time, from movies to games to Michael Bay saying Ninja Turtles are aliens. If Bioware had waited, I would almost guarantee it would have blown over and been forgotten in a few months in the same way Halo fans complained about the handling of Halo's story of fans of Final Fantasy VII, to this day, debate over the meaning of the ending (which, in itself, as become that game's defining trait). You move on, still think fondly of your experience and then go on to the next.


Plus, I'm sorry, it doesn't matter what the ending is because I guarantee that people would have complained about it. It could have been a feature length ending with all the closure and detail for every single character (which, in the grand scheme of Mass Effect, aren't that important but whatever) and there would have been a group of fans that would have still bitched and moaned. If you're complaining about the ending, then think about the ending you want, then realize that what you want probably isn't what the guy next door wants, and so on and so forth. I didn't want an ending to Return of the Jedi with a bunch of Ewoks that had no relevance to the overall story singing some dumb song, but then again I grew up and accepted the fact that Return of the Jedi is awesome despite that.


You know, that's actually a good example, space opera stuff aside. The Star Wars saga ended with Luke and Vader's journey, then called it quits. As for what happens after or outside that main arc really isn't that important. We see a few characters we care about and vaguely remember in some cases, then a moment with Luke seeing his father in Jedi-ghost form, then that's it. It felt satisfying because that's all it needed to do. The funny thing is, when Lucas went back to add more to show all the other characters and planets and celebrations, people thought that was a dumb idea.


Now you might think there's a counter-arguement here. That, in a way, Mass Effect belongs to the fans. They have the right to complain and demand change to their vision, not the creators.


No, it doesn't. You're buying and playing something that someone else created. You're going to take it and either like or not like it. You can't suddenly shape it into something to make you feel secure. I feel that during all the whining, people have forgotten why they're fans in the first place. I'm sorry, but no ending is going to live up to your preconceived expectations that fit your level of fandom for Mass Effect. Want games to be taken seriously? Be looked at as art or works of merit? Be critical, but don't be children.Though I feel the ending is fine, it's also fine to not like it. But to demand it be changed then have a company feel obligated to do so? I don't know what it is about groups of fans and the internet where everyone feels they can demand anything and are entitled to everything, but it's a sad state of affairs when people start conceding to them.


 

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