When it comes to the ending of Mass Effect 3, there are no shortage of opinions on the subject. But I’m not here to talk about indoctrination or plot holes (if you want to hear our thoughts on the ending check out our other video). In fact this entire article is spoiler free! Instead I’d like to take a moment to talk about something much more important than a silly ending to a video game.
As you may have heard, there are more than a few folks unhappy with the ending of Mass Effect 3 who go by the moniker “Retake Mass Effect 3″. That seems fair enough. Most if not all video game stories have at least a small faction of disgruntled fans. You can’t make everyone happy. Oh but there are those who take it to the next level. Those who not only dislike the ending but demand BioWare change or rewrite it. Granted it’s a bit extreme, but maybe they have a valid point. Here we have a group of like minded individuals coming together united under one banner to protect the sacred order of interactive entertainment rallying a battle cry against the vile dictatorship of EA. What’s so bad about that? Well everything actually.
If these so called “fans” get their way, the argument of video games as art is dead. Why you ask? Let me explain.
Take the famous painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci. For centuries scholars and average joes alike have been perplexed and puzzled by her ambiguous smile. Even after all this time a definitive conclusion has yet to be reached. You want to know the secret? There is no one right answer. We as the viewer must make that decision for ourselves individually.
Now image if some group of art fanatics had the crackpot idea to start a petition demanding the Mona Lisa be repainted. Say they wanted the painting to clearly portray the subject as smiling. Of course that would prove difficult as the original artist is no longer among the living. Beyond that it’s plain stupid. No matter how many people joined in the fray the painting would never be changed. Why? Because it’s art. Britannica Online defines art as:
“The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.”
Nowhere does it say art is a democratic process for the masses to change and warp to their will. Hate the ending to Mass Effect 3 all you want. Debate the theories and facts until your blue. Kick a small armadillo in the face. I really don’t care what you do. Hey no one is forcing you to buy the game. The fact remains the group of artists at BioWare created this ending as an expression of their unique vision. To now demand it be changed directly conflicts with the argument of video games as art.
As a viewer we will never see the same piece of art in the same way. So who are you to say your way of seeing it is more right? Who are you to then force your perception of said art upon others as fact? Have we really become so apathetic we can no longer come to our own conclusions? Must everything be spoon fed to us? Seriously folks for once in your life have a little imagination here.
Isn’t one of the functions of art to incite discussion and debate? I think all this dialogue is phenomenal. Regardless of your opinion, this situation has brought up countless ideas, theories, and speculations. Thoughts that would never have been explored had it not been for BioWare’s creative direction. So it bothers me when a group of fans try and squash this dialogue by force.
This is a defining moment. Our actions will affect how the world at large percieves the medium of video games. You clamor for video games to be recognized as art, well here it is people! The very nature of this discussion is art in practice! We complain the general public scoffs at the notion of video games as art, yet here we are presented with the opportunity to prove our case. We’ve been given the opportunity to show the world video games are more than a collection of bleeps and bloops. Either video games are a developer’s expression of skill and imagination in the creation of environments and experiences, or nothing more than a petty democratic process controlled by the loudest voice.
If we can’t respect video games as art, why should anyone else?
Brian is the Managing Director here at Substance TV. He is the host of the original Substance TV legacy series and co-host of Pixel Fusion. A graphic designer by trade, in his spare time he find himself playing bass and singing vocals for Wichita based band Ten Day Wish. Luckily he has a wife who supports his video game game addiction along with his three amazing kiddos. You can find him on Google + or via his Twitter @fortressfruit.