Not because of the ending of Mass Effect 3, which apparently is the worst atrocity to hit humankind since whatever that Kony dude (allegedly) did.
I’m upset because gaming sucks today.
Not actual gaming. When you put the game in the console (barring a RROD or a YLOD) and it’s just you, the controller (unless you are playing Kinect) and the game, it’s awesome. All is right with the world. Immersion into a foreign world, excitement, adventure…a gamer craves these things.
No, it’s not games that are the problem.
It’s the gamers.
We all know what I am talking about: the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy. After hearing the rumblings, I was prepared for the worst. I was ready for an ending that would crush my soul, make me throw away my controller while shielding my eyes from the atrocity that encompassed my television screen. Something that make me quit gaming forever and become a prophet, warning others about the dangers of gaming.
Instead, I found something quite different. I reached the end of the game and aside from a few inconsistencies, I found the ending to be satisfying, although I do have some issues with it, namely the stuff with the Normandy. Take that away and I think the ending is pretty darn good and possibly brilliant, depending on your take on things. My Shepard made a decision which I based on the thought process behind every decision I made during the course of all three games. My Shepard had a certain personality, one which I created. I used that personality to decide what my final decision would be. The ending I received was a valid one because I made the choice and the reasons why I made that choice is what made it so satisfying. No spoiling here, but my ending was the Red one and it felt right to me every step of the way.
The main emotion I felt after the credits rolled and the final scene had played out was not rage. It was sadness. I love Mass Effect. It’s my favorite series of this generation, more so than Bioshock and Uncharted. When a new Mass Effect game comes out, I become obsessed. I start searching for space opera novels so I can find something else that carries a hint of the magic that Mass Effect does. I want more. More DLC, more games, more everything. EA is often accused of trying to nickel and dime gamers, but this is the one series that I am okay with them doing just that. Use me, abuse me, just don’t ever leave me, Mass Effect. I can’t live without you.
Obviously, my viewpoint on this is quite different from the steaming masses out in the far reaches of the Internet. Look, I am not telling you to like the ending. But the insanity regarding this has to end. A game had an ending that you didn’t like. The world hasn’t come to an end, has it? Is it really necessary to file a complaint to the FTC because Shepard’s story ended in a way that differed from your fan-fic? I’m trying to be reasonable here because I know there are legitimate reasons to dislike the ending and the vast majority (at least, I hope) of gamers do not fall into this demographic of being freaking crazy, but I am losing my mind over the absurdity of this. What did gamers expect, that somehow the final choice in the game would involve every little decision you ever made? Do you have any idea how insane that is? How would that even make sense?
It’s gotten so bad that people are getting refunds from Amazon! Allow me to be clear: some Gandalf bought a game, played the game to its finish, didn’t like it and got his money back. What. A. Loser. Seriously, when did gamers become entitled little babies? Can we pinpoint the date so I can invent a time machine and go back and smack some sense into these people? Or would that count as changing the ending, something which is so absurd that I am literally flabbergasted. Ever been literally flabbergasted? It’s not good for your digestive system, let me tell you.
Back to the refund: can I do this if I go to a concert and am not satisfied? I just saw Radiohead last month and they didn’t play “Creep” or “Paranoid Android”. Can I get my money back? Can they apologize to me personally and come play a show in my living room using a setlist I came up with myself? I was disappointed with Transformers. Should Michael Bay allow Megan Fox to come to my house and make it up to me (I wish this was an option)? Should I start a petition, instead, claiming that Michael Bay is allowed to make the movie anyway he sees fit, but I would like him to change it because I didn’t think it took the original cartoon into account?
These are ridiculous things and they are happening right now. On the Internet. The amazing tool that helped usher in the Arab Spring. Which gave us countless nude pictures of actresses we’ve always dreamed of. Which made a geeky kid pretending to be a Jedi into someone we could all identify with. And now it is being used to bully and harangue artists into changing their art because it wasn’t “heroic” enough for them. I honestly understand that people are invested in this series. And I understand disappointment. I’m a Star Wars fan. A Sopranos fan. I’m used to lackluster, artistic endings that challenge the audience rather than spoon-feed them the answers they crave. But you know what I do when that happens? I move on.
Mass Effect 3 isn’t the end-all, be-all of my life. It’s simply something I love, which has entertained me over the years and is now at an end. Whether I loved the ending or hated it doesn’t matter because the journey to it was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Gamers need to accept that somethings in life don’t turn out the way you want them, too. I’m not working in the job I want to be. I’m not living the lifestyle I would like to. I’m just doing the best I can. The people at Bioware had no intention of pissing off gamers or screwing anyone over. They had a vision. They followed it as best they could. Or at least they tried to. Let’s not forget the leak in November that may have precipitated some changes to the ending.
The reaction that gamers is so beyond the pale that I seriously don’t want to read the gaming sites anymore. I don’t want to write about games. I don’t want to talk about them. I just want to play them and have everyone else shut up and leave me alone. Less than 50,000 people “Like” the Retake Mass Effect Facebook page. Bioware sold 890,000 copies of the game on the first day. This is a small percentage of people we are dealing with, yet they control the debate because IGN and the rest of their ilk breathlessly report every Twitter interaction, petition and charity drive that these numbskulls come up with it. And they do so with absolutely no self-awareness of their own involvement in this whole ordeal.
These gaming sites post about every rumor, every alleged leak and PR statement, both official and unofficial that Bioware, EA or even their custodial staffs make, all in the race for hits. It’s all about the page views and these sites act as a mindless extension of EA’s marketing apparatus, the geth to EA’s Reapers, if you will. They drive up the hype as much as they possibly can, analyzing and examining every morsel of information that they obtain from any source that will talk to them. And when they have raised the expectations of gamers to to a level that no one could ever hope to satisfy, they release a glowing review of the game.And then when it all goes wrong, they act like they can’t believe the reaction. Like they are completely innocent in this whole saga. They aren’t.
People can be upset about the ending. I’m not saying that their concerns are invalid. But for those selfish people who want the ending changed, what about me? What about Nick, who also liked the ending he got? What about those of us who are happy to enjoy a piece of entertainment for what it is instead of whining, crying and gnashing our teeth at the injustice of the world because things didn’t go our way? What happened to, “Huh, that sucked. Time for more Call of Duty!”?
So how do we move on in the post-Mass Effect 3 world? Because that’s what we should do is move on. For some, the aforementioned campaigns to get the ending changed is their futile attempt to fill the void left by the conclusion of one of gaming’s greatest franchises. We can call this the Red solution. For others, they will simply move on the next game, AKA, the Blue solution. But I have a third solution, a Green solution, if you will.
Go sign your petition.
Tweet furiously at Bioware PR staff.
Get your refunds.
I’m heading back to the Normandy.
But this time as a female Paragon (or ParaFemShep).
There’s a distress signal coming in from Eden Prime.
Time to answer the call again.