Archive for April, 2012

On Artistic Integrity

Posted in Grumblings on April 5, 2012 by chemiclord

Hey, it’s another Mass Effect rant!

Hey, it’s not like I have much else to rant about.

Bioware recently released a statement regarding a free DLC content, Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut, that expands and will hopefully fill in some of the gaping plot holes to the series.  Considering this was my primary complaint, I am content with this.  For the great majority of the fans (who are the epitome of entitled brats), it’s not even close to enough.  But it is my sneaking (and perhaps cynical) suspicion that nothing was going to satisfy these complainers, and I am perfectly fine with Bioware ignoring a group that is never going to be content.

In fact, if I was Bioware’s writing team, I would totally sneak in this current rage into the narrative with the Extended Cut.

(SEMI-QUASI SPOILERS INCOMING)

Shepard: You say that peace between synthetic and organic life is impossible?  I just brokered the end of a 300-year-old war between the Geth and the Quarians!

Catalyst: And how long do you think that peace will last?  Forever?  A hundred years?  A hundred days?  The “peace” you brokered was nothing more than a banding against a supposed common enemy.  The elements within the Quarians who seek to dissect and dominate the Geth still remain.  How long do you suppose they will wait upon the end of this threat before they resume their tireless march?

Shepard (thinking about Daro’Xen): …

Catalyst: Exactly.  Your meager frame of reference pales to mine.  I have seen this cycle unfold thousands upon thousands of times.  The end result has been the same; every… single… time.  Peace is fleeting.  War is inevitable.  It’s not even limited to synthetics and organics.  You organics are perfectly willing to massacre other organics for the flimsiest of reasons.  Truly, your only purpose seems to be the total annihilation of yourselves.  I do your kind a favor by preserving the species that advance before they eradicate existence for all life, synthetic and organic.

Catalyst: You are hardly the first species to protest.  You are hardly the first to fight.  I do not need to explain myself to you.  There is no way your simple frame of reference could possibly grasp the millions of years of experience I possess.  Just as you would not suffer the arguments of an infant trying to teach you the art of war, Shepard, I will not suffer your infantile babble about things you know nothing about.

Catalyst: I have given you your options.  You can either accept one of them, or you can do nothing and let the Reapers lay waste to what remains of your pathetic “combined might of the galaxy” and start the cycle anew.  THAT is your choice.  Be grateful I am giving it to you at all.

To be honest, that was my biggest complaint about the Catalyst at the end of the game.  It wasn’t nearly condescending enough to this insignificant ant that dared to argue against it.  I’m hoping that it gets the proper degree of dismissal for Shepard that it should have.

(END SEMI-SPOILERS)

Now, with that said… we get to the concept of artistic integrity, and its blatant misuse both by creators and fans.

Artistic integrity is the power to create a story in the way you see fit.  That’s it.  It is not a shield creators can use to ward of criticism.  You can’t create something terrible, and then say people don’t have the right to say it sucks because you want to keep your “artistic integrity” intact.

It is also not something to scoff at just because a fan doesn’t like how a story developed.  If a creator listens to your complaints, and ignores them, artistic integrity is not an “excuse”, it’s a “fact.”  They aren’t changing something because you don’t like it to spite you.  They aren’t changing it because that is how they want the story to develop, and that is their right.  If you don’t like it, that’s your problem, not theirs.  The entitled brats who write something like “Who Really Owns Mass Effect 3?” or try to file a complaint with the FTC to force Bioware to change the ending, are just that… entitled brats… and deserve the nothing they got.

I’ve gotten into some pretty heated arguments with ME fans because of how this third game ended, and some very angry words were exchanged on both sides.  I get what the fans are miffed about; they were promised that Mass Effect was “their story”, and they feel betrayed because Bioware took “their story” away from them.

And that’s the problem I have with the fans in this case.  I don’t care what some advertising department said, or what some company head said to stir up interest and try and drum up game sales.  The fact of the matter is, Mass Effect was not your story.  It never was.  Bioware didn’t take anything from you because it was never yours at any point to begin with.  They, like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the past, didn’t actually offer you choice.  It offered you the illusion of choice.  The narrative of all three games was set before you ever put those discs in your console.

I understand that is probably a very bitter pill to swallow, and Bioware sure made a very terrible way to demonstrate it (although I am not going to claim that was their intent; that would require a degree of writing sophistication I don’t think Casey Hudson possesses), but that’s the truth.  Mass Effect was Bioware’s story from start to finish, and for 2 and 9/10ths games they did a spectacular job of fooling you into thinking it was yours.  I’m sorry if that hurts the people who invested the time and money into all three games to the point where they are emotionally wrought dry… but that is frankly not Bioware’s problem.

When I laid out the first drafts for The Second Gate, it was actually in response to how absolutely ridiculous I felt C.S. Lewis ended The Chronicles of Narnia.  Even at 14, I felt he had taken an intriguing retelling of many biblical fables, and turned it into a bitter, petty political rant about women, Muslims, and anything else that wasn’t a white Christian male.  But that was his story; that’s where he wanted to take it.  I wanted a story that reflected something else… so I wrote my own.

That’s my earnest advice.  If you want something that is your story, create your own story.  If you don’t want to do that, then you need to accept that you are at the whims of the people who are creating them for you to enjoy, and that you have no right whatsoever ever to demand they change that vision to suit you.

Hopefully, this will be my last rant on the subject.

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