It has only been about a week since the backlash to Mass Effect 3’s endings began. Though the vast majority of Mass Effect fans have maintained a respectable level of civility while expressing their anger over this apparent betrayal by BioWare, there have been those whose actions have allowed those in the gaming media to portray the entire ‘Retake Mass Effect’ movement as downright immoral, irrational, and potentially violent hooligans. A repeat of the Jennifer Hepler fiasco will not help this movement achieve its goal. (UPDATE: Instig8iveJournalism did a video breaking down the Jennifer Hepler fake controversy. I apologize for not knowing all the details before referring to it)
Though there has been some examples of people with the ‘Retake Mass Effect’ movement who have taking steps to keep this behaviour to a minimum, there has to be a serious effort made by at least those operating the ‘Retake Mass Effect’ websites, if not the community as a whole to police itself. Simply put, its time for those involved to learn from the ‘Tea Party’ movement, not the ‘Occupy’ movement.
The first thing ‘Retake Mass Effect’ participants should know is how to conduct oneself during a protest. At the very least, one should act with respect for one’s self and others. Just because you disagree with something someone has said or done, that doesn’t mean you have the right to behave in a way that’s entirely unacceptable. This also means that you shouldn’t excuse those on your side of the argument who behave in a way that’s entirely unacceptable. Case in point, Destructoid’s Jim Sterling.
I’ll be honest, despite Sterling’s offensive language, I do feel that he and I would agree on a lot. For example, I do agree with him that feminists, especially radical feminists, are far too sensitive and actively look for issues to get upset over, if not make up excuse for outrage. Just read Leigh Alexander’s “I’m Tired of Being a “Woman in Games.” I’m a Person.” as it’s a perfect example of feminist faux outrage. In fact, I’m also willing to admit that I think that modern feminism has been become a destructive force in society which undermines women’s rights. Before anyone calls me a misogynist, it isn’t just men who are saying this. Liberal women like Barbara Walters have admitted that these “champions for gender equality” treat women who chose to stay home and raise a family as inferior. Camille Paglia goes a step further and compares modern feminism to “a kind of totalitarian ‘group think’.”
Well, I have been an ardent feminist since the rebirth of the current feminist movement. I’m on the record as being — as rebelling against my gender-role, as being an open lesbian and so on. In the early 1960s I was researching Amelia Earhart, who for me symbolized the great period of feminism of the ’20s and ’30s just after women won the right to vote. When this phase of feminism kicked back in the late ’60s, it was very positive at first. Women drew the line against men and demanded equal rights. I am an equal opportunity feminist. But very soon it degenerated into a kind of totalitarian ‘group think’ that we are only now rectifying 20 years later.
Does saying that make Ms. Paglia a misogynist? Of course not. If I, a man, agree with her statement, am I a misogynist? Of course not. The problem, however, is that although Sterling and I would agree on this point, I cannot and will not defend the words he uses to discuss feminism or women in general. Even I think the kind of language he uses is misogynistic.
If you are discussing Mass Effect 3’s endings or any topic related to the Mass Effect series, BioWare or Electronic Arts (EA) and see someone behaving inappropriately, do something about it. This is a lesson the ‘Tea Party’ had to learn early on as the media was determined to smear the entire movement for the actions of a few. The media, in the case of ‘Occupy’, refused to report on the movement’s horrendous behaviour. Without this outside pressure, no real effort was made by the movement to police itself until the crimes of participants became national headlines. After a week of attacks from gaming media outlets like Destructoid, IGN and Kotaku, it’s clear that the ‘Retake Mass Effect’ movement’s actions are being watched closely. If this movement wants to have a positive public image, it’s participants must remember to behave in an acceptable manner.
The second thing ‘Retake Mass Effect’ participants should know is that this protest is not a “witch-hunt.” I have already seen a number of posts on the BioWare Social Network and on the ‘Demand a better ending to Mass Effect 3’ Facebook page trying to blame find someone to blame for Mass Effect 3’s endings. I have seen posts by upset fans who went after Casey Hudson on Twitter, as well as efforts to demonize Michael Gamble and Mac Walters as the so-called destroyers of the Mass Effect franchise. There are also those insisting that the endings were some insidious plot by either BioWare or EA to force players to pay for better endings. ENOUGH! Nevermind that these people are behaving in a way which is completely inappropriate, when you have people within ‘Retake Mass Effect’ spouting this nonsense, it’s make it hard for people to take the movement seriously.
Before reaching for your torches and pitchforks, examine the facts okay? With the release Geoff Keighley’s “The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3,” we learned more than enough to debunk these conspiracy theories about Mass Effect 3’s endings. Was it an insidious plot to force players to pay for better endings? No. In fact, these were the endings Mac Walters and his team of writers wanted for Mass Effect 3. That’s it. Simply put, this was a bad idea that sounded like a good idea to a team that admitted to wanting an unforgettable conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy. What does one say about this? Ignoring established canon and the desires of the series’ fans in an effort to create an artistic ending simply which serves only to evoke a strong emotional response? I’m almost speechless thinking about how anyone could believe this was a good idea.
There is only one word I could use to describe this apparent betrayal by BioWare of Mass Effect fans. Mistake. It was a mistake for BioWare to end Mass Effect 3 they way they did. I highly doubt that BioWare, let alone EA, would have allowed this game to end as it did if they knew the reaction would have been so negative. As I stated previously, Mass Effect 3 has a very low rating on Metacritic, and despite being released a week ago, the game is being sold on Amazon.com for as low as $46 American and as low as $40 Canadian on Amazon.ca. Does anyone think that, if they could have predicted this backlash, BioWare wouldn’t have changed the ending to appease Mass Effect’s fans? Once again, after all the money EA has put into funding, promoting, producing and distributing this game, I would imagine this whole ordeal is very troubling. In fact, I would say that they are panicking right now, trying to find a way to come out of this debacle without losing too many customers.
As long as ‘Retake Mass Effect’ continues voicing their complaints in a civil manner and refrain from resorting to “witch-hunts,” it might be able to achieve its goals. This is why the ‘Tea Party’ succeeded, as demonstrated by the results of the 2010 midterm elections, and why ‘Occupy’ failed to make a real lasting impact. No catchy slogan, be it “HOLD THE LINE!” or “WE ARE THE 99%,” can convince the people to support a movement that is no better than a lynch mob.
The third thing ‘Retake Mass Effect’ should know is the purpose of the movement. Whether or not you agreed with the politics of the ‘Tea Party’, it was made clear what the purpose of the movement was. ‘Occupy’, on the other hand, never had a clear purpose. In fact, when asked by reporters as to the movement’s goals, participants either had conflicting answers or no answer at all. Here’s a video of exactly what I mean. Think of it as a metaphor for the ‘Occupy’ movement.
They don’t even have a direction, let alone a purpose. Just existing isn’t enough. ‘Retake Mass Effect’ must remember that its purpose is to demand that BioWare make new endings for Mass Effect 3 that are not only fulfilling, but take into account the player’s choices throughout the series. This is a simple message that can and will encourage other upset Mass Effect fans to join the movement.
It also doesn’t hurt to educate one’s self on this position. A movement that can defend its position from scrutiny is one that can gain support from unlikely places. Despite the insults hurled at ‘Retake Mass Effect’ from the much of the gaming media, with one outlet standing out from the rest for being particularly vicious, there has been a few among them that have been very supportive of this movement. Forbes’ Erik Kain has been one of these voices, providing not just support but well thought out arguments which help those in the movement defend their position. Because of this, he has gone to being a relative unknown to an important figure to ‘Retake Mass Effect’. If you are one of those upset with Mass Effect 3’s endings, and you haven’t been reading Kain’s articles, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Aside from Kain, Ross Lincoln at Game Front has written a very in-depth article which exams the major complaints fans have with the game’s endings. There are even those within the ‘Retake Mass Effect’ which have provided their own well thought out arguments to defend the movement’s position. Eternalsteelfan, for example, wrote a piece which breaks down Mass Effect 3’s endings from a screenwriter’s perspective. Simply put, there is no reason that anyone involved in ‘Retake Mass Effect’ shouldn’t be able to defend their position with all the information that’s already available for them to do so.
In any event, it’s important that steps be taken to ensure that ‘Retake Mass Effect’ can achieve its goal. By learning from the ‘Tea Party’, this movement might just be capable of replicating its success. Lynch mob tactics like those used by ‘Occupy’ cannot be tolerated. There is no excuse for such disgraceful conduct, and I will not defend the actions of those who do just because they’re supposed to be on my side.
HOLD THE LINE!
Once again, for those who haven’t already liked ‘Demand a better ending to Mass Effect 3’ on Facebook, if you feel as myself and thousands of other Mass Effect fans do about Mass Effect 3’s endings, do it. Also, I recommend supporters of the ‘Retake Mass Effect’ movement go to ‘Retake Mass Effect’ and make a donation to Child’s Play. It’s for a very good cause.