Tales of Graces f, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Mass Effect 3. These three games are the most important releases of 2012. This may seem like an odd statement, two of these titles are niche JRPGs, representatives of a now much derided genre here in the west, but together these three games represent a paradigm shift in the relationship between gamers and publishers/developers, one brought on by the increasing acceptance of social media as a part of our everyday lives.
Gamers have tried to sway corporate decision making in the past, perhaps most notably in 2006/2007 with Starmen.net’s efforts to influence Nintendo in the decision to localize of Mother 3 (skip ahead a little in that video, as it documents the entire series, not just Mother 3), a failure which to this day remains a sore spot for many gamers. After this, most gamers seemed to give up on the idea of online movements to influence gaming’s corporate fat cats, we just became complacent, bitching about our distaste on GameFAQs ; the rule of thumb became that online movements never work, gaming or otherwise.
But in the last year or so this has steadily changed. Internet organized protest movements just seemed to start packing more of a punch and when it comes to gaming it all really seems to starts in February of 2011 with the localization announcement of Namco-Bandai’s Tales of Graces f, a title that would have never seen a U.S. release had it not been for the unorganized collective bitching of some 50,000 fans of the franchise across the Internet over the course of 2010.
Later, in June of 2011, the gaming community saw the emergence of Operation Rainfall. Op Rainfall was/is concerned with the U.S. localization of three Japanese RPGs for the Nintendo Wii; Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, all of which had received or were announced to receive an English localization in PAL territories at the time the movement began.
Op Rainfall has distinguished itself by being one of the best organized and level headed fan movements to ever grace the Internet, if the Tales fandom had got what they wanted by spewing (justifiably) hateful vitriol across numerous social media websites and gaming journalism outlets, Op Rainfall was going to do this with a bit more class and tact, choosing to spread the word about the three titles to the uninformed as opposed insular bickering amongst already existing fans, again, using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word and gain attention. This approach ultimately paid off, with Op Rainfall having gained attention and support from multiple gaming news outlets during its time in operation. The end result is that publishers have heard Operation Rainfall; as of writing this the North American release of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story have both been confirmed. Operation Rainfall has shown just how far gamers can get when it comes to influencing publishers without having to throw inflammatory accusations about trolling or not being loved.
Now, with the release of Mass Effect 3, we’ve seen this all come full circle into something awful, stupid, and entitled. With the Tales fandom and Operation Rainfall, we saw fans of these titles rallying to get the games released in the US so we could, you know, actually play them. I supported these movements because they built up the medium and supported publishers and developers in making admittedly risky publishing decision. But here, that’s not the case, “Retake Mass Effect”, as it’s being called, has gotten it in their heads that they deserve a better ending to Mass Effect 3, as their official facebook page states;
“Bioware is a business if we can make them understand that by using the current endings they alienate (no pun) their customers, and destroy the replay ability of the trilogy they are hurting their profits we CAN bring about a change for the better.”
So they were unhappy with the ending, and judging by the 59,000+ likes the page has gotten, a lot of people shared these feelings. That’s fine, really, it is, you can feel however you want about it, but demanding a new ending is dog shit. Great games, movies, books, and TV Shows have had bad endings all the time and we’ve always just sort of bucked up and learned from it, it’s not that important, no matter how much Mass Effect means to you. This is all very stupid on this principle alone, but it really gets dumber when you go a little deeper.
I’m going to assume most of you guys on firmly opposed to Roger Ebert on the subject of videogames as art here, just based on the fanaticism of how you’re acting about this and my talks with a few dozen Retake Mass Effecters, so please, for a moment, tell me why you feel you have agency over the artistic vision that Bioware’s team has for their work? How would this be any different than George Lucas’ endless reediting of the Star Wars films that he didn’t direct? We give Lucas shit for reediting those all the time, but Mass Effect fans are chomping at the bits to force Bioware to do essentially the same thing.
If you were unsatisfied with the ending of Mass Effect, the responsible reactions would be to either 1.) openly criticize Bioware for producing an unsatisfactory product and hope they do better on the next game or 2.) create your own work of fiction (be it a game or otherwise) and not make the same mistakes you feel Bioware made with Mass Effect. The responsible action is not try to exercise creative agency over someone else’s work. Of course those would involve doing a little more leg work than simply spewing filth and bile about this crap on the Internet like a bunch of petulant children and would actually require you to have the mental facilities to create something as opposed to simply consume it.
Since I started writing this, Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka has come forward and said that the team is considering making changes to the ending. You people disgust me. I sure hope the new ending to Mass Effect is worth it, because you may have very well destroyed every shred of creative dignity the medium ever had to get it. It can no longer be about the expression of the design team, it’s all what the loudest, dumbest, most bored people on Facebook want from here on out. You haven’t “retaken” Mass Effect, it was never yours to take back, you’ve taken it away from its creators and possibly ran roughshod over the medium in the process. You think the ending sucked? Is this the first bad ending you’ve ever encountered or just the first time I’ve had the misfortune of hearing your incessant bitching about this crap. Get a helmet kids.
Now I will say this before I close, there is this theory floating around called “Indoctrination Theory” I won’t go into it here, just follow the link and the 20+ minute video will explain, but if the theory is true, and it very well could be seeing as how it uses established precedents from the whole franchise at face value, there is a good chance that the ending we got is a fake out, and that future DLC will continue where the game left off, in which case any “changes” made to the current ending could have very well been in the cards from the get go, which means all my bitching about running rough-shod over the creative integrity of the series is moot and we’ve all been played for fools, but you’re still all idiots.
a very special Man-Child Messiah: User Generated Content.