“Entitled, elitist, etc” or “That being said”

I have to preface this by saying: No, I haven’t finished the Mass Effect series. I know it’s been out for some time. It is sitting on my shelf, with the rest of them, waiting to be played (I like the series, just didn’t like the class I chose and I’m debating using my old save file, or starting from scratch, and it’s been a lengthy decision).

That being said: What gives people the idea that the fans, or anyone really (outside of the people who actually produced the game) has the right to say whether that the ending should or shouldn’t be what gets released?

As a writer, I’m used to commentary. People think an idea should go here, or there and most people aren’t shy to tell you. And that’s just part of the game. I can live with that. But if you don’t like an ending, or some storyline doesn’t end up where you expected it to. Does that automatically mean you should complain until it’s changed? Well, as most are likely aware – apparently the answer is yes. I know I’m kicking a dead horse here. I’m sure the concept, at least surrounding Mass Effect 3 anyway, is a debate that’s long dead, or has been done to death – but it’s something that came up today and I just had to get it out.

I know there are different ways to look at this argument. I think there are two clear, and definable sides. 1) Art is open to interpretation or 2) The value is entirely defined by the end user.

There is definitely some spill-over between the two options I’ve put forth. Of course interpretation is kin to the concept of the end user’s value of the story/product. That being said: I doubt Hemmingway, Fitzgerald or King sat around in their houses, reading complaints about the ways their stories ended, thinking about how they can re-write them to make the “fans” happy.

In case it isn’t readily evident by this point – I fall hard into category 1. Your experience, and how something affects you is a common outcome from both options, but the experience is interpreted through the art itself. And the piece, be it a painting, a story or a videogame, is all open to interpretation.

That’s why I like people who say “Hey, this is what I’ve done, do with it what you will”. Like this guy:

If anything, I hate the fact that they caved and added DLC that “fixed” or “improved” the endings. I get why they did it. The fan dollars speak louder than artistic integrity. Shareholders and the money-people always have the last and loudest say. Which is a shame. And I’m not going to get into the artist vs the artist who sells out vs “the man”, but, well, that’s kind of where we’re at. It’s an amazing thing to get paid for one’s art. One’s talent. But subjecting yourself to having to pander to an audience because someone or some group isn’t “pleased” by what you’ve produced. That’s the worst.

Vonnegut said it best:

“As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.”

Now, we’re not talking literary criticism, but the point stands on it’s own. Well, except for the part about the audience being critics. I guess it’s another one of those situations where you can’t please everybody. With that in mind, though, I really hate the mentality. Do I like every ending of everything I read/watch/play? Definitely not. But it is what it is. Either it has merit, or doesn’t. That doesn’t mean having paid to consume the product, that if I’m displeased with how it turns out, I should moan and complain until someone fixes it. Just deal with it.

– The Ego

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2 thoughts on ““Entitled, elitist, etc” or “That being said”

  1. Mass Effect is similarly sitting in my Steam library, waiting to be digitally dusted off and played…and although I don’t remember the specifics of the controversy, I’ve seen people describe it a little differently over the past few months. From what I’ve gathered, Bioware had been promising its customers a continued depth of storyline, and a continued “your choices matter” narrative, and then ended the series with a very simple ending that a lot of players felt forced into.

    I think that’s a little bit different than your standard run-of-the-mill criticism – when a company promises a particular product, customers buy the product, and then find out that they aren’t getting what they paid for and demand that the product is fixed, it no longer feels the same as a simple criticism of art/entertainment. If Microsoft promised feature X in its next version of Office, and I bought Office and found that it didn’t have X, I’d either get my money back or request a patch with X in it. Maybe it’s because a game is a specific medium that CAN be updated, unlike, say, a book, that makes me feel differently about it…or maybe it’s the price point ($60 for a new game vs. $20-$30 for a book [jeez, books are expensive nowadays]) but I think the damning thing is that according to what I’ve read, Bioware promised X and didn’t deliver.

    Of course, I also remember the sting of Peter Molyneux telling me I’d be able to plant forests in Fable and visit them later, then not delivering on that – so maybe I can’t be as objective about this type of thing :P

    (Also – was there a large demand for an update to ME3 at the time, or was it mostly just cries of “you suck”?)

    • Aye, but therein lies the rub. Did Bioware promise more player impact? Sure they did. Where you have to transition from objective to the subjective. Promising the masses a feature and not delivering is unconscionable. But delivering a suitable ending is not the same as saying “we promise raising the level cap to 105 from 100” and not delivering. To push the analogy one step further, it’s the equivalent of buying a couch, expecting cushions and then finding out they aren’t included. I think this case falls more along the lines of being told said couch will be the most comfortable sleep in your life. But when you go to take a nap, it’s too soft and then Goldie Locks comes around and it’s just right.

      A fitting end to a story to an entire audience is impossible. Take the Sopranos for an example. One of the best shows in television history. Millions upon millions of fans. But when the screen cut to black in what seemed to be the pivotal moment, a lot of people were livid. Some people, my serf included, felt the ending appropriate. As I’m sure you’re aware, satisfying everyone is an exercise in futility.

      Now I’m not saying people can’t be upset or that they’re forced to like any story force-fed to them. All I’m saying is that getting into a frothing fervor and demanding change is obscene and unrealistic.

      As a reader, I can think of a dozen or more books I’ve read where authors have promised a satisfying conclusion, and failed to deliver.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Please keep reading and follow me. If there is anything you’d like to see me cover, please do let me know.

      – The Ego

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