I haven't played Mass Effect 3 yet. I've been in Austin for SXSW all week, and my copy is waiting for me to get home. That means I don't know how the game ends, and I don't know if the ending is good or trash. I have simply no idea (and for all you smart alecks, I'll be staying out of the comments on this article so that you don't spoil me). Here's the thing: for this editorial the quality of the ending doesn't matter.
See, there's a group of fans - a very group of fans - who hate the ending of the game. That'll happen; endings are hard and it's a rare franchise that sticks the landing. These fans have every right to hate the ending, and to complain about the ending and to bitch and moan. It's how it works - you sell me this game/movie/book and I get to tell you what I thought of it.
But these fans are taking it another step. They've launched a campaign to get BioWare, the makers of the Mass Effect games, to change the ending of the game. They've started a Facebook page where they have about 30,000 Likes, they've gotten a lot of press from the gaming media and they've even set up some donation drive to the Child's Play charity, which has raised $40,000 so far. Called Retake Mass Effect 3, the goal of this movement is to get BioWare to offer new alternate endings that make them happier.
This is simply retarded. Video game fans clamor and cry for games to be considered art. Well guess what, guys? Art is the result of a vision, and the vision is not yours. It's the vision of the creators of the game. You don't have to like that vision, but it is what it is.
Here's the cold, hard reality: Mass Effect doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the writers and the designers at BioWare. If you don't like what they did with this story, then feel free to stop consuming their product. But you don't have the right to demand that they bend to your whims and change the story they wanted to tell because it didn't make you happy. That's the ultimate sort of entitled childishness that gives fan communities a bad name.
Of course this isn't new behavior in fandom. Misery's Annie Wilkes didn't spring up whole cloth - Stephen King based her on his own experiences with entitled, whiny fans who felt that their fandom made them owners of the material. They weren't content to criticize, they were owed something more to their liking. And so he personified them in the body of this woman, a superfan of novelist Paul Sheldon. When Annie learns that Paul has killed off his romance series heroine Misery Chastain, she goes a little nuts, and when Paul gets in a car crash near her home, Annie takes the opportunity to kidnap the writer and force him to write a new book to her specifications.
I think Annie Wilkes would have commiserated with the Retake Mass Effect 3 people.
It's tough when you invest a lot of yourself into a continuing entertainment property and find yourself truly let down by it. I spent so much time and mental energy on Lost and the ending of the series left me furious. But that was the ending that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse wanted. I hated it, I critiqued it, but I accepted that this was the way the guys who were telling the story wanted the story to end. The storyteller isn't your dancing monkey, taking cues and peanuts from you. The storyteller is an artist, and you're consuming his art. You can choose not to consume it, or if you don't like the art you've consumed you can stop consuming future works. But you can't tell him to go back and change the thing you didn't like. It's sort of psychotic.
Grow up, Retake Mass Effect 3 people. Even if I despise the ending of the game I will never respect your position.