Mass Effect 3 ended. Or did it? I don’t think we really know (i.e. the problem). Like all things internet, it has caused quite the stir however, and like all things internet, people have leaped at the chance to argue their opinions (my self being one of those louts). Naturally, during any good internet controversy, some general themes are built on in which to base one’s argument; unfortunately this is also where we get to watch the train wreck that is logic poorly applied to strung out sentences and prose about how the other side should degrade themselves by performing fellatio on someone. That being said, I certainly have a side, and my side is that the ending of Mass Effect 3 was poorly and lazily executed.
Let me stop here. If you like the ending, I do not think you are deserving of death (whew! load off your shoulders). In fact we just generally disagree and that’s okay. What I do take exception too is the emotional and ill thought out arguments “some” of you have used to lambast the majority of fans who dislike the ending. Despite what Bioware’s PR girl will try to argue (quite poorly I might add) on twitter, I can use the term “majority” with gross accuracy as literally every medium for gauging opinion on the internet has been very weighted towards this end.
The main objective of this article is to look at the arguments targeted against the end’s detractors, and show how they are characterizing our thoughts and opinions in a trite and generally integrally dishonest fashion. Again, it is one thing to disagree. It is another to characterize the opposition as lacking some basic human function or intellect. To tell someone they are wrong is one thing; to tell them they are wrong because you understand their opinion more than they do is foolish.
It’s the journey, not the end!
“Are you really going to let an ending like [that] cover up all the fun you had? Are you going to [let] 10 minutes of a game that is a series you love so much make you so blind that you completely forgot why you love this game in the first place?” Forzenspear2004; IGN Blogger
First, take note of what the above writer does in that statement: he uses a logical fallacy called ‘begging the question’ were the writer (speaker, etc) inserts possibly inaccurate information to pose a question, which in turn proves the writer’s point. He inserts that having veritable displeasure in the ending automatically translates into a “blindness” of the quality of the series as a whole to any one who hold a differing opinion than his own.
A good example of this is asking someone if they “quit beating their wife yet,”; it assumes they beat their wife in the first place. By asserting that ‘displeasure in the ending of Mass Effect’ makes one blind to the total series, they automatically infer someone holding that opinion is inferior. It does not question the merit of the belief; just attacks the belief out right.
What the writer should understand is that many Mass Effect fans take great pleasure in the series even though they abhor the ending. An attack on the ending does not necessarily equal an attack on the series. However, it may significantly reduce the worth (i.e. replay value) to someone in regard to the series. Lastly, just because someone dislikes the ending does not mean they “forgot” the sum of the series either, as he also alludes too. In fact, most of us love the series, which is the exact reason we want it ended on a better note.
You think you are “entitled”; i.e. you are spoiled.
“Whining over ME3′s endings reminds me that rampant gamer entitlement isn’t going away. God forbid BioWare ends its story the way it wants.” Colin Moriarty; IGN
First let’s look at the actual meaning of entitlement. Entitlement can be simply described as ‘the fact of having a right to something.’ This characterization is actually an extremely interesting one. Entitlement in this case can only be applied to satisfaction (we will call this utility) in a product; the product being Mass Effect 3. So let’s ask the question here, how much utility (satisfaction) is warranted (entitled) by a consumer when they purchase a product? The answer to this question is largely subjective. However, it is certainly unreasonable for a consumer to expect something that a developer, manufacturer, retailer, etc… cannot or are unable to provide. Most would agree that expecting too much is negative consumerism. Per say you cannot go to Walmart and buy a toy light saber and rage on the internet about how it does not cut people’s hands off or Sith’s in half; of course it doesn’t.
However, I would argue that it is an acceptable degree of entitlement to expect the utility in a product in which its marketer has promised. If company “A” promises their widget will make you jump as high as an NBA point guard, and in reality it adds springs glued to the bottom of no-brand tennis shoes, than the consumer has been mislead to believing they would receive an “X” amount of utility that was not delivered to them. In this case the consumer’s degree of entitlement is justified; they were promised a product that did not deliver. This is EXACTLY what Mass Effect fans all over the globe feel like.
You see, to us at least, we feel like Bioware made promises that were not followed through with. The following is from Casey Hudson (Project Director for ME3):
“This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.”
Now as a witty forum writer wrote, “You are right Casey, it wasn’t A, B, or C. It was Red, Blue, or Green.” Also in his statement he claimed that Bioware was taking account so many decisions that people made and reflecting them in the end. While the game its self does contain some of this, the ending certainly does not. Fans were lead to believe they would receive a certain amount of utility with the closure of the game, which Bioware did not capitalize on; in turn consumers of their product have justified entitlement because pre-set notions were not achieved.
Also of note: it’s hard to make an argument that a movement is “spoiled” when they have raised (at the time of this writing) $67,893 for charity. That doesn’t speak to the quintessential picture of the guy in white underwear raging with his greasy long hair and Cheeto powder stains on the keyboard, does it?
It’s art! You can’t criticize art!
“Video games continue to attempt to be considered as art over the course of the last ten years. I’d be willing to say that everyone who enjoys games and has been affected by them on an emotional level believes that they are indeed art. But we can’t call it art, and then proceed to undermine this idea when we see fit.” Max Parker; Pittsburgh Post- Gazette
This point, like the previous one, is extremely interesting but still largely subjective. Are video games art or are they strictly consumer items. Well, in my opinion, they are both. However, not every video game passes that threshold into art, the same way that not every movie does (again in my opinion only). For example I would argue that G.I. Joe did not qualify as art. However, someone else may argue that while the movie lacked narrative quality, it still exhibited strengths in cinematography. Neither one of us would be right.
Furthermore, I would argue that Mass Effect 3 does pass the threshold into art. So then we must ask our selves how you criticize art effectively. Surely we can agree that bad art exists and that by criticizing it, it does not demean art as a whole. I Googled “how to criticize art,” and I got a wealth of information. So much information that I could write an entire article on the ending, broken down parameter by parameter (and maybe I will). One of the biggest parameters I noticed over and over was whether or not the piece of art maintained unity, a consistent vision, and a consistent rhythm. This is where I feel like Mass Effect’s ending can be accurately (in my opinion, ad infinitum) be described as bad art.
This is because it does not keep with the expected rhythm, and maintain a constant consistency when compared to the previous two games. For example, if you paid someone to do a series of paintings for you and the first painting you received was a flowing stream through a forest and what looked to be an old stone wall; you would expect the next canvas to maintain that streams flow and build on that wall right? Well it did, the second painting the stream ran in front of an old oak drawbridge and you found out that the stone wall was part of an ancient castle lost in a dark forest, and you couldn’t wait to see how the artist continued the majestic vista. Finally, the day for the last part of the painting and you receive the “Nyan” Cat.
You would obviously be a little jarred, and wonder what just happened. Enter in the feelings of many of us when we beat Mass Effect 3. “Wait, what impact did my decisions have on my squad mates?”, “I thought my decisions would matter, I get the same three options no matter what I did in the previous games?” etc. It just didn’t feel like closure, and it especially didn’t feel like the impact of a Mass Effect decision. Art can be good or bad, but good art must be consistent and hold through with a theme. Mass Effect 3 failed in this regard.
Like me? Hate me? Got a different take? Follow me on Twitter @JSixGun and berate me till the mid-morning.