For about a month, I have been thinking a lot about respect and what it means to earn and lose it. Respect is one of the most important parts of a relationship, and without it you can’t have one. Now there has always been a line of respect between video game developers and gamers. Games really can touch your soul better than any movie, show or book, and when developers can do this, gamers develop an appreciation and trust their word. You follow them like you would follow any great music artist, buying up all their merchandise not even because it’s quality stuff, but because you want to support them. And, they support you by continuously creating great games. But, sometimes that isn’t the case.
An example of this was the Mass Effect 3 ending, which is a perfect example of this. Casey Hudson, head of Bioware, made a statement before the launch saying “We want Mass Effect to be one of the memorable games in history.” He got his wish, albeit not in the way he was hoping. Mass Effect 3, one of the biggest games in history had a rushed and unsatisfactory ending with huge plot holes and promises of 16 radically different endings broken.
A massive amount of gamers have spoken up about this and continue to even a month later. Here is when the line of respect got crossed. I believe it is okay to speak up when you believe that something is wrong but some fanatics take it too far. These “fans” began to insult and wreak havoc across message boards, twitter accounts and just about everywhere they could. Some got creative and sent cupcakes to the Bioware development team with the colors of the 3 choice endings you can make. Although I found that incredibly clever, it’s still a slap in the face.
Bioware then decided they weren’t going to take it lying down. Comments were made by Casey Hudson, saying fans were not able to let go of the Commander Shepard story arc. Finally, Bioware announced that they would send out an extended cut of the ending so people can have a more personalized conclusion to their story arc–a very generous gesture to the fanbase considering that they could have easily done nothing. Just another reason to appreciate Bioware.
A few weeks after Bioware’s announcement, a different developer made some remarks. Alex Hutchinson, the creative director for Assassin’s Creed made a comment during an interview. “People on the internet suggest the most boring settings,” Alex Hutchinson told OXM. “The three most wanted are WWII, feudal Japan and Egypt. They’re kind of the three worst settings for an ACgame.”
It’s one thing to think WWII or feudal Japan are boring settings, sure. But why say that us internet folk suggest the most boring settings? Why scorn your audience? In a later interview, he retracted the statement, saying “It’s part of a bigger discussion. Obviously any setting is potentially awesome. The point we were making was that some settings are more familiar in video games than other settings. And the two particular ones that were mentioned are very familiar video game settings.” Uh huh.
There is a line of respect with every relationship. The gaming community needs to learn that we live in a symbiotic cycle. The developers take care of the fans who in turn take care of their developers and the cycle continues. It is how it has been and always will be. Besides, Commander Shepard would want us all to get along.