10(ish) games for the 2010s pt 2
- #9: Mass Effect 3
- The year is 2012. I’m in my second semester of college. I’m playing lots of video games because college is easy and I’m a horrible student who just wants Bs. I’m on twitter pretty regularly as I get more involved with the Magic the Gathering and Minecraft scenes. And then I start seeing trailers for this new game. There’s a giant squid floating over a city shooting lasers. Then there’s more giant squids attacking Earth with lasers. This is my first experience with Mass Effect.
- While I’ve never actually played Mass Effect 3 (oh no I lied earlier) I have played a bit of the OG ME, and it’s pretty fun. But my experience with actually playing the games took a bit since my computer at the time couldn’t handle any of them. No, what gets Mass Effect 3 onto this list was the outrage.
- If you’ve never played a Mass Effect game, let me poorly summarize for you. You play as Shepard, a badass space marine dude with a lot of guns who everyone wants a piece of, fighting off alien robot squid from killing everyone ever. You make a lot of decisions that make you either Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil, and the story actually changes in different ways depending on your alignment. People raved about the first two Mass Effect games because of how the endings were different depending on your choices and how each game had influences on the next if you synced your saves (I think this is a thing). All in all, the hype for this game was real. At least, until it came out.
- When people started finishing Mass Effect 3, the discovered something: their choices didn’t matter. There was only one ending. The entire core conceit of the game, you playing Shepard how you want and dealing with the consequences of your choices just vanished. To say this made people mad would be an understatement. People were apocalyptic. Rants, raving, demands for more endings, demands for refunds, I saw it all cross my twitter feed in my first real interaction with internet rage. Obviously, not everyone hated the game, but the game’s ending (which eventually was patched to allow more options) isn’t really the point here. The point is that this game meant something to me even when I hadn’t played it. It was a demonstration of the echo chamber that is twitter and reddit, and how these communities just went apeshit over feeling they’d been slighted.
- In the years since, I’ve seen all sorts of things, from global controversies like GamerGate to more insular things like GarrukGate (look up the original MtG card art for Triumph of Ferocity and you can figure out what went down there). Each time, the Mass Effect 3 reaction comes to mind and makes me question: is this really an issue? Are the people I see in the right or are they just feeding each other? What actually matters in this issue? In short, Mass Effect broadened my critical thinking. Take that teachers who said games never did anything for you.
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