On the Topic of Revisionism

Before you read anything else in this article, stop, take a deep breath, and evaluate the priorities you have in your life. When you look at the top of your list, are things like start a family, feed the homeless, or buy a house on the list? That is really awesome of you, and you are probably a good and/or well-adjusted person.

Was petition, scream, and or give money towards an effort to change Mass Effect 3’s ending on that list? If so we need to talk.

I have played a great many games in my life, seen countless movies, and read tons of books. I have enjoyed most of then and have been disappointed on different levels by a great many of them. One of my favorite comic book series of all times was Ex Machina, and the last book had what I consider to be a terrible ending. It did not detract from the time I spent with the books, but at the same time it left a sour taste in my mouth when I think back. Do I wish it was a different ending? Sometimes, yes. Will I take any effort to change it? No.

If you don’t know what current event I am alluding to by this point in the article, I suggest you read up here: http://blog.bioware.com/2012/03/21/4108/

Mass Effect 3 has the ending it has, regardless of whether you liked it or not. It is the ending the writers intended and your like or dislike for it is purely subjective. There are a great many people who are perfectly ok with the ending and you have every right to dislike it, but it is just that, your right to dislike it, not your right to claim any ownership over it or feel entitlement to recompense.

I think we have to remember that the goal for us as a community is to view videogames as an art form as well as an entertainment medium, just like movies. Not every movie is art, not every game is art, but we have to afford the particular work the courtesy of letting it decide where it needs to sit within the medium to give it the validity it deserves. Sometimes that will mean we get something we don’t like. Mass Effect 3 is a piece of art that some people don’t like.

We all hated when George Lucas revised the original trilogy because we viewed it as revisionism on a work of art. Now we are suddenly asking for the thing we protested all this time. I will grant that there exists a grey area between revisionism and things like digitally remastering or uprezzing for HD, but to ask for a developer, a group of artists, to change a story element at a fundamental level to me is as black and white as it gets. Changing the ending to ME3 is no different than Greedo shooting first and anyone asking for it is flat out wrong. If you want a different example look no further than the number of foreign movies that get horrible remakes in the states. Or the American version of Top Gear.

What I find so disheartening about the new ending campaign is the fervor and determination it hit with and how misplaced it is. People who are involved with this movement are well impassioned beyond what I would have thought possible, to the point of fundraising, boycotting, and becoming litigious with the company. Bioware has had false advertising claims filed against it with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Don’t you think that if there was a legal basis on which to fix a letdown ending (Lost) or revive a show canceled before its logical completion (Firefly), it would have happened already? But nevertheless, the complaints will waste both time and money.

Members of this community are so impassioned about raising awareness, money and a general shit-storm for this, yet when Joe Lieberman or some other zany politician comes out and attacks videos games as the Anti-Christ, we only see angry forum posts, no real organization from the community.

Bioware has already said that they will release content for the game to help clarify and expand upon the ending of the game. That seems pretty reasonable of them as a company. It’s unfortunate that they feel it’s within their self interest to do this, as the backlash was so harsh, this will only be viewed as a cover-their-asses maneuver. I don’t personally feel that way, because I see value in a company taking customer feedback seriously, however skewed it may be due to the very vocal outliers in the complaints department.

So what happens next? What if the community does not like the supplemental materials that Bioware releases? Will irate customers beg the developers to release supplements to those supplement?. I hear the third Hunger Games book is terrible and that the ending is a huge disappointment. With the movie coming out are we going to start demanding that the book be rewritten to compensate for the fact that even more people now care about it? We are going down a slippery slope, and part of me really wishes that it was over something more valuable to us as a community or a species.

Linguist, Archeologist, Musical Savant, Robot, Asshat. Only one of these apply to this guy. The host of the show, who also sometimes writes and makes videos!