I'm going to be honest with you, readers, the last couple weeks have been busy. Really busy. So busy that it's hard to want to spend the few free hours I have pouring through Kickstarter projects. It takes a lot of time and energy, and having just wrapped up another pretty intense week, I don't feel like doing it tonight. So...I'm not going to. I'll post all of this week's Kickstarter and IndieGoGo ebook projects along with the weekend launches on Monday. So you can look forward to that.
Tonight, I'm going to talk about something fun.
For you faithful readers out there, you may have already picked up on the fact that I play my share of video games. I do. I play them often, and I love them. I like to think I even have pretty good taste in video games. The Bioshock franchise, the Assassin's Creed franchise, even the Portal games, these are great games. But lately (and by lately I mean for the last...8 months I guess) my go-to game series has been the Mass Effect Trilogy from Bioware. They're the kind of games I can play over and over, and still sort of admire every time.
So when the penultimate installment of the current Mass Effect series was released, I had a copy purchased in advance. I beat it in something like three days, and then I played it again over the following week, and then spent another month messing around with the new multiplayer features, just in case it made a difference in the overall story line. Obsessive, I know. But a good video game is a lot like a good book (which is why I feel like I can get away talking about video games on my book review blog). Long form stories, like novels and video games, ask a lot of their audiences, and we invest a lot of time and emotion in them.
Bioware games. For people not familiar with Bioware's unique brand of storytelling, let me break it down for you. Bioware is all about how a person chooses to play a game, sort of like those old choose-your-own-adventure paperbacks back in the day. Except in Bioware games, players don't choose what happens. There's only one narrative. But we do choose how it happens and it feels less like cheap (or kinda not cheap) entertainment and more like...well, life. It's all very meta. Or it can be, if you choose to think of it that way (ha ha). The point is we get to create our own idea of the main character, and we get to choose the world that results from the actions of the character we create. To some extent, there's even a level of romance in how much importance is placed on individual choices.
Plus, it's a crazy science fiction future with it's own politics and ethical problems. I've already talked at some length about this kind of science fiction when I read through "Dune" so I won't go into all that again. But I will say Bioware's storytelling has always felt incredibly immersive, and has a lot in common with some of the best science fiction stories out there.
Bioware's case about it, and I'll admit I myself was also pretty disappointed. (But I consoled myself by replaying just about every other Bioware title I own, instead of ranting on the internet, because even when the graphics look dated, they're all really enjoyable games.) There was rending of garments and gnashing of teeth on all sides. Fans wanted a rewrite from Bioware, and gaming journalists (yep they're out there) wanted to defend the artistic integrity by telling fans to shut the hell up. Both sides kind of had a point, and both sides were kind of being jerks about the whole thing and it was very sad all the way around. This went on for a few months.
BUT! (and I will admit it's pretty incredible that there is a 'but' to the story, because Bioware didn't have to do anything really. We all know of science fiction franchises which have torched the goodwill of fans pretty unapologetically. It's sad, but it is an artist's right, I guess.) BUT, as I was saying, Bioware didn't let the whole Mass Effect franchise end on such an ugly squabble.
They didn't rewrite the ending either.
But they did give us fans a little more of a resolution in a free add-on extended cut. Some fans are still poo-pooing the effort as too little too late, but ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you, it's a brilliant ending, and the folks at Bioware did a really excellent job. Fans who still have their panties in a knot about the whole thing are...well, just plain wrong. That's all there is to it. The extended ending accomplishes everything that the original ending missed and does it beautifully, and folks, I've sunk years into this franchise. Years. I love it just as much as anyone, maybe more. But I also really love Bioware for giving me the ending my years of emotional investment really wanted.
So this is me, thanking Bioware for giving me a trilogy I'm already replaying for a fourth time. I'm not entirely sure what the moral of the story is (the whole kerfuffle about the ending, I mean. Not the game.) To some extent artists have every right to make art without any consideration to what people want, but it's hard to have a relationship with fans if artists see fan opinion as combative and adversarial.
Sometimes, a negative opinion is an act of love.
Other times, fans really should just shut the hell up.