If you are plugged in to the gaming world, you have probably heard by now about the uproar some fans have about Mass Effect 3′s ending. Spoilers aside, (and don’t watch the video if you don’t want to know how the game ends)
So I get it, fans of the games invest hours upon hours of gameplay, they sacrifice things like a social life and having their mate pissed off at them while they go for hours building relationships and solving galactic problems that they would never have the guts to go and do in real life. You go through all this to have all that you have done mean just about nothing because your choices were so limited that you basically at the end there just have to sit back and deal with the cards you get dealt in the final round. (Making this game a real lesson in life) I get it. I mean, I play RPG’s too. So while I make fun of all this, don’t get me wrong man, I’m in there with you.
The other side of the coin to this is that I am a writer of fiction, a writer of songs, and I also understand the need for things to end the way a creator needs them to end. I need to tie things up in my own way, and honestly a lot of epics are supposed to end in a way that is sometimes bitter sweet.
A big side of the debate is that… well this is a video game. So you have to ask yourself how big of a piece of art this is. Did the writers put this out there to make a point? Did they have a grand scheme all along, and does BioWare really have to make alternate endings to appease fans who want a happier way to end the trilogy?
This leads me into a fan vs creator train of thought. I actually use movies as my vehicle of example.
Movies are made to appease the mass majority. This is why test audiences exist. If the movie tests well with the crowd, it’s a go. If it doesn’t the crowd is polled on what they did or did not like. So if the crowd didn’t like the way a certain character was portrayed, or the actor, the part might be recast, or if say in this case, the ending was not favorable, the studio would send it back to be reshot and edited with an ending that people liked. This is also the reason that many adaptations which were excellent books to begin with, become utter pieces of shit later… Because Joe American is simply “too busy” to read, he would rather wait for a “movie to come out” but then gets upset because the typical American goes to the movies for an escape, and doesn’t want to be hit with weighty subjects, lessons on how the world works, or a social commentary on what’s going on in the world.
Take a moment to think about what I just said and if you can’t wrap your head around it, consider these examples:
ARMY OF DARKNESS- Sam Raimi and crew were given complete freedom to shoot the movie anyway they liked (since the first two Evil Dead movies were great cult classics) However when Universal Pictures took over post production, they did not like the original ending, in which Ash oversleeps and wakes up in a post apocalyptic future, citing they felt it was negative. So they had to film a more upbeat cheesy ending for theaters. The original ending has since been added to DVD editions.
CLERKS- In the original ending, Dante informs a late coming customer that the store is closed. The incoming customer shoots Dante, killing him, and the person steals money from the register, Dante’s dead face looks past the camera and the credits roll. While some fans have gone to speculate that the ending in a homage to The Empire Strikes Back ending on a down note, Smith actually changed the ending do to a mentor telling him it’s too depressing. The original ending has since been included in DVD special editions.
DAWN OF THE DEAD- In Romero’s classic movie, fans refer to a “suicide” ending in which Peter kills himself and Fran gets decapitated by helicopter blades, the camera shows that there was not sufficient fuel to escape… The film’s ending actually shows Peter deciding not to kill himself and flying away with Fran.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – The first ending shot by Frank Oz was loyal to the play it was taken after, Seymour feeds his love to the man eating plant, and tries to commit suicide. He then decides to fight the plant, but he gets eaten too, then spawns of the plant take over the world. This is the version both Frank Oz and lead actor Rick Moranis actually prefer… but it didn’t test well and a happier ending was made where Seymour and Audrey kill the plant, get married and live happily ever after. The ending was actually added to a DVD release, but was done badly, there is an upcoming DVD release called the “intended version” which is slated to appear.
I think you see where I’m going here. I know that customers get the final say. But I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the creators who go out of their way to put a vision the way they want to. They work at putting social commentary or a spin on something to be different, but because the typical person is unhappy with life not going for them in real life, they want a happy ending in their entertainment life. That’s why the whiny consumer will almost always win. But, if we were to say, tell that person how to raise their kid, or what they should eat for dinner, we would be infringing on their rights as a free willed person.
You know when I was a kid, there was no such thing as “nerd culture”. This shit fascinates me. When I was a kid I just liked cool stuff. There was no status quo for being an outcast, you just did. My brother and I were constantly looking to the stars because we wanted something fantastic in our lives. Something different than what was being offered here on this crappy planet. We are both still waiting for something fantastic even if we have to go create it ourselves.
I find it interesting that “nerd culture” nowadays is all about the hip cool stuff. For instance, in any of these examples I have mentioned, most people in comic or gaming conventions would have hour long conversations in line about these movies, talking about how cool the original ending is. But yet these same people want to complain how a video game ends. This leads me to the conclusion that all BioWare had to do to begin with is have a typical boring happy ending, then later release a DLC that features the way it was “supposed to end” to have everyone buying that shit up. Seems that would have been a win for everyone.
But what do I know? In my day that Pac-Man machine was a quarter.