The Dark Side Of Life

I’m sure that by now the Mass Effect 3 ending “controversy” is either dwindling down or completely irrelevant, but at the time I’m writing this, a group is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to intervene over what is being characterized as a case of false advertising. Again, by the time this goes live I’ll probably have made it through to the ending myself, but as of right now the only thing I know is that the culmination of a huge number of choices and player actions across three games are distilled into one final choice which determines which ending you get.

Yeah, this is definitely something to be (have been?) up in arms about.

While this load of bullshit was going on, I had a discussion with a couple of friends who were, to various degrees, involved in the issue (though certainly not on the side of the “protesters”– I don’t know anyone that stupid). One of them argued that it’s remarkable how a video game is causing this much of an emotional attachment in certain people, and that the outcry is a rallying point for the “games as art” movement. To which I promptly replied that no, as much as we would want it to be seen as a positive, the media is going to portray the outcry as “a bunch of immature pseudoadults whining over the ending to a children’s video game that they’re too old to be playing”. It probably already has.

I can’t be positive about this. I literally cannot find the good out of all of this. If there is any, it’s too well hidden and too miniscule to offset the tremendous amount of public-perception damage that this is doing to gaming as a whole. We want gaming to be treated as an adult pastime, as something that anyone of any age can enjoy, but the minute something goes wrong, gamers revert to a twelve-year-old mentality and start whining to beat the band. We can’t have it both ways, and unfortunately it looks like the way we want it is to reinforce the stereotype that’s been imposed on us.

As much as I want to be “out” as a geek, I have to accept that doing so means I’m not going to be free of the associated prejudice in my lifetime.