Game Over For Creativity?
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 21:04
For a video game that involves shooting a lot of things, “Mass Effect 3” has come under heavy fire — from an army of dissatisfied fans and critics.
Since its release last month, “Mass Effect 3” has caused an uproar for its questionable design. The game, which is the last installation in a series usually known for providing strong interactive elements and extended player choice, fell short of expectations. Fan anger has reached the point where movements have started to “Retake the Ending,” parodying “Mass Effect 3’s” famous tagline, “Retake the Earth.” There have been protests, petitions and even a filed complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
It seems that these movements have been successful, as video game developer Bioware announced earlier this month that it will release downloadable content this summer that will, as Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka promises, “[maintain] the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in the ‘Mass Effect’ universe … [while also] delivering the answers players are looking for.”
But such a change is detrimental to video games as both a business and an artistic medium.
Fans are primarily upset with the game’s ending, and I must admit that they raise valid arguments. Since the “Mass Effect” series has always prided itself on encouraging player choice, this ending to the series betrays the interactive element that makes the video game medium special.
But should the developers change the ending due to the fans’ request? Despite my previous complaints, I still do not believe that this is the right approach, because the implications of such a change would be worse than keeping the ending as it is.
Being a fan of video games does not give one creative control. A fan’s only voice in a product or series is whether he decides to buy it. If he had any input on the creative process, game development would become only more geared toward pleasing the majority and would be void of the boldness and experimentation that inspire and stimulate writers and artists.
As a result of the protest in response to “Mass Effect 3’s” ending, I fear creative directors will be less willing to take creative liberties in the future, or they will be severely limited by their publishers, who might be concerned that such uproar could occur again. And in a medium where originality and creativity are already becoming jeopardized, gamers should find Bioware’s rush to appease its fans unacceptable.
We need to maturely show that we care about our games, both as entertainment and as an art form. Throwing a temper tantrum, as some “Mass Effect” fans have done, would not influence the industry according to the protesters’ best interest.
I understand fans’ frustrations with the designers of “Mass Effect 3,” but their protests may affect the industry with a result far worse than a disappointing game — they may change the nature of the video game industry itself.
BEN MAZZARA is a freshman in the College. He draws “SCRIBBLES OF A MADMAN” every other