Mass Effect 3 was amazing, and some people just can’t understand why you might not agree. Now there’s nothing wrong with discussing the finer points of a videogame; the reasons it succeeded or failed. And in the case of a title like Mass Effect 3, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot, maybe most, don’t have much to knock it for.
But light discussion by a few critics can also devolve into a “101 reasons why I love Mass Effect 3” circle jerk as it did over at The Verge earlier today.
It’s clear some prominent voices in the gaming media had a few things to get off their chests. But I’m not sure name calling is the best way to start, “There’s been petabytes of back and forth and bickering and crying over the last three weeks by a certain vocal group of Mass Effect 3 players.”
But don’t let that condescending introduction set the tone for you prospective reader, or do, who the fuck cares anyway. Onto the main order of business.
Adam Sessler, Kevin VanOrd, Francesca Reyes, and Arthur Gies have been brought together to get at all the reasons they loved Mass Effect 3, and perhaps help enlighten some less impressed players.
Adam made sure to repeat his confusion about reactions to the ending, “I didn’t realize the ending was not to be liked.”
Fran courageously hated herself for wanting a different ending, stating as much, “I hate myself for wanting a happy ending, you know?”
And Kevin, trying to grapple with even the possibility, declared, “It’s hard to imagine anybody going into the final moments thinking that sacrifice wasn’t a possibility, or even almost inevitable. Honestly, who could conceivably even imagine such a thing?!
All of which led Arthur to wonder, “ if it’s spoiled somewhat by the idea that players, or a certain subset of players, will try to game the system no matter what.” Who would dare try to game any system, let alone game the system of a videogame. Did you fools listen to BioWare when it discussed its multi-tiered set of endings? And fearing that a “bad” ending might be a less developed, less resource intensive one, seek to avoid it by playing hours of multiplier or intergalactic fetching? Then you’ve ruined it for yourself!
But to their credit, Arthur & co. remark at length on the diversity of possibilities which adhere in the Mass Effect Universe. So many that, without spoiling them here, one might have the impression that there are several ways to play the game, and several ways for it to be enjoyed. An ‘AAA’ tribute to “to each his (or her!) own.”
In Mass Effect 3, who will die? Who will live? And who the fuck knows why? Because as Kevin notes, to ignore the complex contingencies of the middle game for the ending is to miss the galaxy for a single star, “They’re being very selective about it, because they’re going to youtube and looking at all the endings, so that they can complain about how similar they are, while simultaneously ignoring how very different all of, say, our experiences were from each other.”
Mass Effect is about all of the little, sentimental possibilities. Look only at their culminating outcome and you might miss that fact.
But don’t fret, because the endings really aren’t similar! What Kevin won’t tell you is what Arthur will, “one of the things I like about the ending is that they just totally fuck that universe up by the end. It is completely different, no matter what choice you make.”
Except not all of the choices, since as Arthur says, two of them lead to the same thing, even if the second one is “really bold.” But who cares right? Everyone’s reaction to the game is valid, yes?
Specifically with regard to the game’s ending it was Adam who wondered this time, if “it was a ghost in the machine.” And interesting nod to Descartes’ brand of mind-body dualism which really gets at the heart of the Reaper-mind-Shepard-body quadrualism, or something, like that.
But the important thing is how literary the ending of Mass Effect 3 is. ”From a literary perspective,” says Arthur, “I think that that’s slick.” Adam agrees, “In a literary fashion, they have left it somewhat open.” Because if you remember one thing, remember that ME3’s ending is “literary.” Like books and shit. You know, smart things.
To close, the group makes sure not to let the “elephant in the room” get away from them, right Arthur? Because according to him that’s the big, blubbery mammal “complaining” in the midst of everything.
Adam tells the disappointed fans what they just don’t seem to understand, “Are you supposed to get a prize? I don’t want to mock too much, and a lot of people have lauded me for not mocking, but as this thing has gone on, I’ve become increasingly frustrated that – the game doesn’t owe you anything. That’s actually something you’re supposed to get out of it yourself.”
Right, tell’em Adam! See disaffected Mass Effectians, it’s not the game’s fault if you don’t like it, or think it’s bad: it’s your fault. The ending is something you’re suppose to get yourself. If you didn’t get out of it what the designers intended, and what these fine critics clearly did, than well, go fuck ya selves cause your clearly demeaning this entire project.
You’re forgetting that Mass Effect 3 is ART. Listen to Adam, “I do wonder if culturally we’re really at such a state of reward for doing anything that the pleasure of the art is not satisfactory.”
The problem with anyone who hated the ending is that they think it should, could, or might have been something other than it was. But no, this is ART we’re talking about. It was intentioned by a small group of master craftsman driven not by a pay check, or the needs of the sales department, or the desires of the shareholders, but only their magnificent souls! Driven by their muses, the Mass Effect team created the art they wanted to, the art they needed to; nothing more, and nothing less.
All of that DLC? That was part of this art. The mobile apps and Facebook spin-offs? Art! Do not see this as a commercial enterprise in which developers make an AAA title that publishers can distribute to Gamestops and the rest to be sold at $60 a pop. Look upon Mass Effect 3, and it’s authentically authored ending as an aesthetic consummation of the all things creative. Not a piece of entertainment sitting in a green box on a metal wired shelf.
Because you misguided Mass Effect fans, Arthur & co. are worried about you. Adam himself says it best, “the general satisfaction of playing an exceptional game, an exceptional game series, isn’t enough. And that’s a little bit worrisome to me, I’ve gotta say.”
Why aren’t you satisfied you god-forsaken cravens!
You guys are, according to Arthur, falling prey to “groupthink” and “mob mentality.” In other words, you’re completely wrong but unfortunately none of you realize it. After all you’re the great unwashed of the vidoegaming masses. Arthur thinks your entitled, and so does Adam, who try as he compassionately may, can’t think of a more “delicate word,” to label you as.
Because despite how different each play through can be for every player, you better like what you get. It’s your own fault if you get anything less, and your own complaining, entitled fault if you don’t understand why that’s obviously the truth.
And I kinda have to agree. The critics are right on this one. And sometimes the only way to get that across is to dip each abrasive generalization in a steaming pile of condescending bull crap. Whatever you’re opinions, please don’t express them. Because in doing so you wouldn’t just be wrong, you’d be a whinny bunch of idiots.