Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Still Writing: Controversial ending? Let it be

Published: March 30, 2012
Section: Opinions

Without a doubt, “Mass Effect 3” was the biggest video game release of March. Like the rest of the series, it was met with critical acclaim. Unlike the rest of the series, it has become entangled in a controversy caused by some fans’ disappointment with the ending of the story.

Online, there is a petition demanding a new ending. On Bioware’s (the developers’) own forums, there is a poll with more than 60,000 votes demanding a new ending. Additionally, a few fans have set up a “chip-in” fund for Penny Arcade’s charity, Child’s Play, encouraging donations to make a statement. Fans raised thousands of dollars and the charity had to ask people to stop donating through the fund because they were getting calls asking how the donations would help get a new ending made. The donations were to symbolize the disappointment of gamers. The charity eventually decided to ask people to stop donating through that fund. Apparently there was confusion as some donors thought that donating to a charity, a third party of sorts, would cause Bioware to rewrite their story.

Aside from the fact that donating to a charity because you are upset about a video game is a terrible reason to donate—it shouldn’t make a difference. Bioware should not change the endings in any way.

Games are art. Demanding that Bioware remake the ending to satisfy fans would be like Michelangelo resculpting David, or J.K. Rowling killing Arthur Weasley in the fifth Harry Potter book as she originally intended. It is fundamentally out of place for the gamer, art critic or reader to demand the creator change something because he or she simply doesn’t approve. “Mass Effect 3” was developed in accordance with the same artistic vision as the rest of the series.

Fans have a right to be upset. They have a right to complain and petition, but Bioware has no obligation to listen. Bioware developed a game that tells the story that they wanted to tell. It finishes the saga that they set out to create. That is all any fan of the series can ask for.

Just because the trilogy is over does not mean that the “Mass Effect” Universe is finished. Back in 2007 Bungie finished the “Halo” trilogy. The trilogy told a story that was resolved by the end of the third game, but that didn’t mean the series was dead. Bungie later released a prequel to the trilogy, and Microsoft’s 343 Industries is making a sequel, starting a new story. Bioware has the chance to continue in the universe and answer some of the questions that fans have.

As a video game developer Bioware poured hours of time and effort into building a game of which employees could be proud. We are all entitled to our opinions. Some people, myself included, write out their opinions for others to read. Criticism and complaints are acceptable for any game or work of art. The role of a critic is to analyze what worked—what enabled him or her to connect with the art—and where either the piece or game fell short in understanding or presentation.

But it is not appropriate to bombard the creator like a whining child, biting the hand that feeds. Bioware says it is looking into a way to address the concerns of fans. They need not sacrifice their artistic vision to do it.