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Published on March 31st, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor

Should We, or Shouldnt We? A Case of Games as Art and Mass Effect 3

Since the release of Mass Effect 3, BioWare has been at the receiving end of fan disappointment with the game’s ending. As someone who reviewed Mass Effect 3, and saw many of the game’s endings, I believe that the uproar is unjustifiable. But this isn’t a piece as to whether or not the ending was satisfactory, but whether or not we are justified as fans to force developers to change the original game design if we do not agree with it. The question is, “Should we, or shouldn’t we?”

For many, video games are considered an art form, and takes many years and creative minds to achieve a goal of creating one. No one walks into an office and says to themselves “I want to do a sub-par job today and create something that my consumers are going to hate”. In BioWare’s case, the company took the Mass Effect franchise, which has been stellar (with the exception of the first one), and put the final stamp on a story that the designers have been drawn to for some time. Think of all the creative minds that worked on the project, that have spent more time with the game than us as fans have.

Now let’s look at the matter from a consumer’s standpoint. We get the game that we have been waiting for, play it for 20-plus hours and are disappointed by how it ended. I’m not going to go into details on how Mass Effect 3 ended, but if you are at all interested there are plenty of YouTube videos showing off each of the game’s endings. We followed a group of characters that we have grown attached to, and seeing anything happen to those characters in any way that we do not agree with we take it personally. There isn’t enough closure in the ending to feel justifiable for all of the decisions your made throughout the course of the series. Guess what folks, there is a little thing that EA exploits and it’s called DLC (Downloadable Content). The Mass Effect Universe is not gone yet!

The general question is whether or not we as fans should be able to force designers to change their artistic views on a project they spent years developing. I never heard this kind of argument from fans based on movies that come to theaters. We have never forced movie directors to change the ending of any movie they’ve created. Did fans force J.K. Rowling to rewrite parts of the Harry Potter series when “key characters” were killed off? The same can be said about comic books and television shows. Walking Dead anyone?

The problem is we as fans are acting in a selfish manner when it comes to an ending of a video game. Do we all agree with the ending? No, but it did provide closure, and whether or not you felt that you had enough closure is something that you should try to correct with another playthrough. The ending I received was completely satisfactory. I would suggest playing through all three games again and work on the choices you made. When we create a scene on something this minor, we put a black cloud over an industry that we so deeply care for. Artist will be less inclined to work because they will fear an out cry on how fans will react.

Take Michael Bay as another example. He recently made statements that we was interested in pursuing the idea of his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action remake will make the turtles an alien race. Fans made a huge outcry, which forced the producers and directors to make statements that would appeal to the arguments. Granted I am not one for the turtles being aliens, but there is a simple way to combat that. Don’t see the movie. The same can be said for any entertainment medium. If you are not interested in how something is portrayed, or how something ends, don’t buy the DLC, tickets, or future product, so that way you don’t have to worry about being let down again.

Forcing developers to change their artistic vision is a selfish move for fans, and makes us look ungrateful for what they have created. So the question again is “Should we or Shouldn’t we?” I say we shouldn’t.

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About the Author

I have been a video game enthusiast for many many years, and have been in the industry for the last 10 years. I love what I do and I love, well VIDEO GAMES! I have a degree in computer programming and currently working on a arcade/indie title.

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