Submitted by Ben_Giff 1260d ago | opinion piece

Angry 'Mass Effect' fans provide argument: Video games are not true artforms | BGMediaReview

With the final installment of the popular space trilogy released, developer BioWare has added a chapter to the “games-as-art debate.” Even if they don’t intend to, it’s the irate “Mass Effect” fans who are arguing games can’t be art. (BioWare, Culture, EA, Mass Effect, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

MAiKU  +   1260d ago
Tell that to the Smithsonian and highly educated people who own and direct their museums/exhibits.
Amazingmrbrock  +   1260d ago
Right now? No not really. Although for a great analogy look at the history of movies.

Even though we've lost most of the movies from the beginning of the last century the ones that are still around are good examples. There are some films from the 20's and 30's on netflix. They were all pretty basic rudimentary films.

Now I'm not saying games are way back at that stage, we're probably closer to being in the 40's or 50's era.

So what I'm saying by this is that video games are still a crude art form. It's building into something great but we're not quite there yet. Soon we'll start getting our dirty harry's and star treks, and eventually we'll get into making successful big budget remakes of classic novels. One day we may even get to the stage where novels have been at for years.
SnotyTheRocket  +   1260d ago
Journey says hi.
Ethereal  +   1260d ago
A shinning example of pure art. I will always consider gaming a artistic medium.
ninjahunter  +   1260d ago
._. I would consider video games every medium of art wrapped around what some people refer to as gameplay.
Also, im fairly certain by law, video game development is considered art, at least in the USA.
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megaworm25  +   1260d ago
art is in the eye of the beholder
joab777  +   1260d ago
Yep...it is an expression of oneself. It gets dicey when the sole motivation becomes profit. But, it can be art to the creator and a commodity to the owner. Anyway, the only way mass effect 3 could bother someone so much is if they either have a mental issue or they absolutely love the universe so much that the ending actually bothered them. In the latter case, u r amongst so many whose hearts have been broken by a book or movie because it was shocking, it was a letdown or simply because it ended. The real problem is that bioware created such a personal story that ppl began to believe it was theirs to tell. Be happy that u were able to experience it. Its better to have loved and lost...or go get ur heads checked.
MegaSackman  +   1260d ago
Journey says otherwise.
WitWolfy  +   1260d ago
Well in my perspective the "artist" lost "integrity" once the "fan" became a customer.
Alos88  +   1260d ago
So to keep the game as a piece of art we should steal it?
WitWolfy  +   1260d ago
Thats not what im saying, I mean everybody who legally purchased the product and is not satisfied with the out come has a right to complain. Especially if certain promises were made before the game released.

So its unfair for a company to say.. "HEY WE'RE ARTIST RESPECT US! YOU DONT HAVE A SAY!" when we the customer have every right to voice our opinion/concerns of the product we purchased.
Ben_Giff  +   1260d ago
Exactly. Gaming is at a point right now where everyone wants to be consumers, fans and critics all simultaneously. It's difficult to occupy all of those roles, and when you start mixing them, the results are hazardous.
Deadpool616  +   1260d ago
Everything is some type of art even if people don't realize it. Why is art viewed as fancy smancy peaces of work that only rich people buy? Everything ever made required some artistic crafting.

Even a toilet is a an work of art. Have you ever took a moment to look at a toilet and viewed it as something someone had to craft? If you looked at a toilet without knowing what a toilets functions or purpose was, it would look like a fancy chair you would see in a art museum.

If you're going to disagree, please retort. We might learn something through an actual discussion.
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Imalwaysright  +   1260d ago
Yep in modern art a toilet with a turd floating in it can be worth millions. The angst and loneliness that the turd transmits to us is priceless.
greyhaven33  +   1260d ago
You are absolutely right, unfortunately your point is most likely over the heads of the majority on this site
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Ben_Giff  +   1260d ago
Artists do receive criticism. However, if they alter their existing work after it's finished, especially if it's to appease consumers, they start to transform it into a commercial good.

These are some notes I took while reading Ian Bogost's 2006 book, "Unit Operations: An Approach to Video Game Criticism"

Once art becomes mechanically reproducible, as video games have, it requires less ritual and less awe. As it becomes less socially significant, criticism and enjoyment begin to become more separate. We tend to enjoy what is conventional with little critical thought, while harshly criticizing anything that is truly new.

In reading different forums and comment sections on various sites, it seemed the majority of those upset about the ending offered little critical insight. They simply felt emotionally hurt (which is a valid response), but it's no reason to call for massive changes to the game's ending.
Godmars290  +   1260d ago
It fails as art in that it fails to be a complete work. That the conclusion to its story is both open to interpretation, and possibly better defined by additional material.
Fez  +   1260d ago
Art is very often open to lots of interpretation, which is why entire theses can be written on one piece of art. And some more "classical" art could also be better defined by additional material instead of being left incomplete.

Games can be art. But Mass Effect is not. Even though it's amazing... I mean I wouldn't say star wars is art just because loads of people like it and it's considered a good set of films with a unique universe. Is every RPG that has a dedicated fan base and high production value now art?
MrBeatdown  +   1260d ago
"To generalize the matter, fans are concerned about allegedly poor writing, plot holes and an apparent lack of choice at the end of a trilogy spanning some 90 hours or more."

Lack of choice? I don't get it. I finished the game with all three endings. I was able to decide the fate of the entire galaxy from three very different options. These weren't little things. These were choices that would dramatically change the galaxy. Hell, if Bioware manages to create a Mass Effect 4 that carries over you choices, I'd be blown away, because the differences between outcomes are so wildly different that accurately representing them would be a huge task. Yet people complain because the cutscenes LOOKED similar.

I played the series for a great story. I got a great ending that actually offered three difficult choices, all of them requiring some kind of sacrifice. There was no obvious choice. That's the kind of ending I wanted, and that's the kind of ending I got. So what if the cutscenes all looked similar?
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EmperorDalek  +   1260d ago
They said it wouldn't be A,B or C... Look how that turned out. The problem is that you don't even see the result of any of the decisions, so what's the point? Great story? Look at the many plot holes created in the last 15 minutes of the game.

Did, and how Shepard survive the best destroy ending? How did Joker manage the crew to run away... Javik wanted nothing other than the reaper's destruction, so it makes no sense for him to run away mid-battle. The logic for the reapers? Stupid. it's proven wrong in ME3, and late ME2. Even if synthetics were garenteed to rebel, why not destroy them, and then tell the organics to not do it again? Anderson beating Shepard? Illusive man? Harbinger leaving? Ground crew appearing? Where's the closure? I could go on far longer.

Those weren't even the biggest problems. The biggest problem is that it ended so abruptly. Where's the epic final battle, using your war assets for a galaxy scale suicide mission? I could replay it if that was the case, even with the ending.

As it stands, I haven't even thought about playing ME3 again. I replayed ME2 the day after I completed it, so that's saying something.
MrBeatdown  +   1260d ago
I'm not sure how it couldn't be A, B, or C unless it was just A1, A2, B1, B2, etc... but that's more or less the same thing.

Spoiler warning in case anyone still cares at this point...

I actually like the fact that we don't see the results. It keeps the choices meaningful. You're choosing the fate of the galaxy. Shepard has no real idea what will happen outside of what space kid told him. I think providing too much insight into the outcome diminishes the guesswork Shepard faces.

Besides, we never saw the outcomes of big decisions in earlier games. We didn't see how saving the council would affect the galaxy. We didn't see the benefit from saving the Collector base. We had to guess what was the right decision, just like Shepard had to.

And I don't think the plot holes are a big deal. Most are minor. When playing a game dealing with space kid AIs on giant space ships run by Keeper bug people that nobody understands, I'm sure there is some explanation for how Shepard, Illusive Man, or Anderson got somewhere. It seems so trivial that I'm not surprised Bioware didn't explain it. I'm sure there was a door somewhere. I mean, Shepard did get out of that room via a random floating elevator that came out of the floor and he was practically dead at the time.

Not everything needs to be explained in order to make sense. Javik for example... what's he going to do? If everyone else wants to retreat thinking the mission is a failure, his options are more or less limited to picking up a gun and trying to take down all the reapers single-handedly, or retreat with the possibility of fighting another day.

Or Joker retreating. He could have picked up the others after they were separated from Shepard when the mission was ruled a failure. Then he took off when the crucible fired. It did cause the Normandy to crash, so getting the hell away from the energy field was defintely a good idea. The energy field wasn't traveling incredibly fast at the start, so Joker could have seen the effect it was having on the rest of the fleet and had time to make a decision to take off.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "proven wrong" but the whole rebellion thing doesn't seem completely illogical. Let's say the reapers destroy the synthetics instead, and tell people not to do it and allow civilization to progress. They progress to a point technologically where they can defy the reapers rather than just accepting the reapers' rule. What happens then? The reapers are destroyed, civilization creates synthetics, and then like the reapers say, the synthetics rise up against the humans and possibly wipe out all organic life, just as the humans rose up against the reapers.

If civilization rises up, the reapers have to put the civilization right back in their place anyway. If they have to obliterate a civilization anyway, might as well do it before they become a real threat.
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ziggurcat  +   1260d ago
butthurt ME3 fans are *still* crying?

get the **** over it, already.
EmperorDalek  +   1260d ago
butthurt ME3 fan haters are *still* crying?

get the **** over it, already. many of them played played the series for 5 years, so i'd be surprised if they finished now.
darx  +   1260d ago
Who cares if they are or are not considered art.
nik666uk  +   1260d ago
Mass Effect fans have got to be one of the most annoying fans in gaming!! Almost as annoying as the GTAV begging Rockstar fans!!
ReconHope  +   1260d ago
Some people think they are entitled to everything. The artist expresses themselves through their art not you. Just because you made choices in a game doesn't mean you will decide the outcome of the game.
xCaptainAmazing  +   1260d ago
The game was falsely advertised by the development team and that's why everyone is upset. In order to get the sale, gamers were promised what they did not receive.

I do think games can be art, but it's a bullshit disguise for someone to use if people don't like something about their game. It is first and foremost an entertainment product, and if it can't live up to that, it can't be considered art.
Nobody would consider ME3 to be art after that ending. It was so blatantly rushed and terrible.
ReconHope  +   1260d ago
Please show me how it was falsely advertised with proof. The choices you made during the game held weight and had consequences. Just because the ending of the game was unexpected shouldn't change anything. They lived up to their end of the deal so stop griping about plot holes. It's science fiction make up a reason If you're so inclined.
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Imalwaysright  +   1260d ago
Really? Choosing the geth or Quarians held no difference. Saving the Rachni made no difference. Curing the genophage was for nothing. keeping the collectors base intact was useless. Hell all the war assets you gathered like volus, blue suns... were more likely ghosts because they played no part in the final assault. All that you did throught 3 games had no meaning in the end. Absolutely nothing. The ending should be a "road" where ALL the choices we've made would "meet" to a conclusion. Bioware did falsely advertised their game because no matter all the choices we made you will always have to choose the same 3 endings wich oddly enough it is the only choice that really matters.
xCaptainAmazing  +   1258d ago
There's tons of proof in video format from both the lead writer and project lead/creative director. Everybody knows about it by now so I'm not going to bother. Go look for it if you want to know what we are talking about.
Ben_Giff  +   1260d ago
Games differ from other entertainment media because they require player input for the narrative to proceed. However, think about this.

Books need someone to turn the page and even movies need an audience. It’s kind of like the whole “If a tree falls in the woods…” debate. In the case of media, I’d be willing to argue that stories do not matter (or even exist for all practical purposes) without an audience.

We usually refer to the person holding the controller as a player, but indeed he or she is a member of the audience. Granted, players are require to input button presses to allow the story to proceed, but he or she is an audience member nonetheless.

Very rarely do we as players actually have real input to decide the outcome of a video game. Rather, video games give the illusion that we have control over the narrative, and “Mass Effect” does this particularly well. Think about it this way. There is absolutely nothing in the “Mass Effect” series that the developers and writers did not write. Players may have created a combination of scenarios unique to their own experiences, but they are still within the confines of the developer’s control. Players did not get upset about “Mass Effect” until BioWare removed this illusion of free will for its players. They felt shoehorned into one of a few endings, and they could not accept that.

What if that is the artistic statement BioWare had intended? People have called it lazy programming, but what if the moral of BioWare’s story is that in spite of all the choices we make, there are times in the end where they only matter marginally or not at all.
trouble_bubble  +   1260d ago
It's not what was intended by all. Pretty much all the writers that worked on the stories for most of the ME3 missions including the finales on Tuchanka and Rannoch, were left out of the ending. It was written by a commitee of two behind closed doors without any input positive or negative from anyone else. Employees have said as much.

If ME was art for most of the field, it became a dictorship on the last 5 yards, and the whole run suffered for it. What should have been an easy touchdown, turned into a turnover.

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