The internet made me angry today.
A few days ago, I was thinking in the bath (my favourite place to think), “There is no way the sea of idiots that pollute the gaming community are going to be able to handle Mass Effect ending.”
This was before I heard about that damn petition.
When I first heard about it, I avoided all news on it in fear of spoilers. You see, I’m a way off finishing Mass Effect 3. I’m about 15 or so hours in, and so far it’s my favourite Mass Effect yet. To condense my feelings: the content is balanced perfectly, and I have to force myself to stop playing.
So what right do I have to comment on a petition asking Bioware to change the ending?
Because they’re asking Bioware to change the ending.
For some perspective, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one my favourite games last year, and of this generation. I’d play through it again right now if I had the time. But the ending disappointed me in a big way. It wasn’t offensively bad – I mostly took issue with its delivery, and didn’t live up to the quality of the narrative so far. So, I moved on. I could’ve written a thoughtful, critical yet understanding email to the writers, or discussed it with other people who played the game. Maybe I could have written an opinion piece post about it.
What I wouldn’t have done under any circumstances is demand that the ending be changed to suit me. No matter what happens with the fiction, it is not my fiction. I am the reader, the only way I am not passive is in my interpretation. I have every right not to like something, but no right whatsoever to have it changed. I either like it, or I don’t – that’s where my level of input ends.
It’s inevitable that this would have happened to Mass Effect. The game has fostered an attitude of “It’s MY story, MY Sheperd” and, by extension, “It’s MY game.” Well, sorry folks, it’s not yours. Choices flavour the experience, but Mass Effect’s plot is constructed purely by the writers. In fact, Mass Effect has always had a very focused narrative. You can change who comes with you, who you romance, you is allied with you, but it always ends in the same place. Bioware have concluded the series how they want to, as is their right as artists. And there is no way they can be influenced by the petition; talk about opening the floodgates if they actually did change something. No developer would be safe.
The ending of Lost pissed off a lot of people. So did Sopranos, and Battlestar Galactica. Hell, that epilogue in the last Harry Potter book was, in my opinion, hot street trash. Yet for all the respective outcry, there were no petitions to have them altered. There was and is an understanding of the relationship between the creator and the consumer. And, in most cases, the journey up to said ending is far more important than the conclusion.
But, as I said, there was no way the “gaming community” was going to handle this. Take any of the controversy surrounding the aforementioned works and multiply them by a terrifying level of stupidity, immaturity and entitlement and you get this petition. And the fact they’ve raised money doesn’t validate their cause, it just means people do dumb things with their money, even if it does end up going to charity.
But, in the end, as it always is, this is a vocal minority. A loud minority, but still a minority. I look forward to being able to properly discuss the ending of Mass Effect 3, but I know whatever I think of it, I would never demand the writers make one more to my liking.