In A Nerd’s Honest Opinion: A Lawsuit Against Mass Effect 3 Is Not The Way
When you don’t have a sound idea, writing a column can be quite a difficult thing. And since it hasn’t exactly been the best couple weeks of my life, in fact, I’d compare them to a week or two of Chernobyl, I need to go into this with a relatively easy topic. I think I’m going to talk about something that affects Mass Effect 3 and BioWare, you know, because we haven’t beaten this dead horse just quite enough. Instead of directly talking about Mass Effect 3 however, I think Azhar and Caveshen have that more than covered; I’m going to try and consider some of the negative ramifications for gaming if the lawsuit against Mass Effect 3 and BioWare were to be successful. More than that though, I want to argue that demanding something from BioWare is childish and there are much more constructive ways of achieving a goal.
[Point 1] – The Subjectivity of Gaming
A game is an entirely subjective experience, a product of consumption it may be, nonetheless, the experience of said product is a wholly unique one, depending on the player of course. On that basis, no one person or group (unless by a staggeringly immense majority) should be able to sue a game developer on the basis of an unsatisfied or unfulfilled gaming experience. Not only is the disappointment or anger you might feel subjective, but subjectivity is too vague and baseless as a reason to hold someone accountable. It has to be something reproducible and apply to many people before you have any grounds; and as most lawsuits of this nature are singular, there really is no ground to stand on. Now I’m not saying this specific claim was entirely a subjective complaint, I’m saying that this cannot be part of your reason for filing a lawsuit; though if you read the entirety of the claim then you’ll see it is based on subjective disappointment.
The lawsuit in question, from one SLICKK, accuses BioWare of deceit and not meeting the promises made to the ending of the Mass Effect 3 story in their PR campaign. But who gets to decide he’s right? His experience of the ending, and his proposed faults, like closure, multiple endings and the like are all effectively subjective things. Closure is just a feeling; at best a psychological trigger in your brain to tell you a narrative has been successfully completed. If some feel closure after the end of Mass Effect 3, and many certainly did, then this claim is entirely his feeling and cannot be a valid reason to sue a developer. Remember, you need objective claims, if we allowed subjective claims then every negative feeling is effectively new grounds for a lawsuit and we cannot have that; it’d quite literally be like shit hitting the fan.
And what if someone wants to hold the view that a majority believe it to be in violation of BioWare’s promise? Well like I said, if it’s a vast majority then maybe the lawsuit would have grounds but there is no majority here. A majority, assuming Mass Effect 3 sold a million copies, to which it has actually sold a whole lot more, would be about 500 001 people. Unfortunately, the largest group I’ve seen is the ‘Demanding a better ending to Mass Effect 3’ Facebook group and that seems to have less than 60 000 people. And to them I ask, what gives the few the right to demand something that will affect the majority? This is why demanding and strong arming, like lawsuits, are horrible ways of encouraging BioWare to change its ending. The game is functional and he got all he paid for, and what if the new ending is not what he wants either? Should BioWare change it again, should the minority be allowed to repeatedly demand BioWare to change something until we are all satisfied? And what if the change upsets a new group? This is a cycle that will continue until the end of time, unless more constructive and reasonable actions are taken. The developer is exercising their creative right; we need to learn to either accept it or do not and don’t buy another product of theirs. I whole heartedly agree that gamers have the right to be angry, to be pissed, and to throw their gamepad through their TV; but no one has the right to go over to someone else’s house and kick their shit into a mess because you didn’t like something they own as well.
[Point 2] – The Ending is just that, an Ending.
One thing I want to make clear; the ending can be bad and people can dislike it, but do not say that it is all you have at the end of the series. I have heard many say that after everything, that after all you have given or sacrificed for the game, all you have to take with you is a crumby ending. Because that’s not what you came away with at all, and you didn’t sacrifice anything, unless you count hours of enjoyment a sacrifice; because if that’s the case then you’re going to have to tell your girlfriend, family or wife that your time together is a sacrifice and not something you do because you choose it. Mass Effect, in fact any game, is the entirety of the experience; you came away with hundreds of hours of enjoyment, discussion, joy, tears and all the times you defended replaying Mass Effect 2 for the 5th time. The ending is not the experience you should take away from anything; it’s the journey that made Mass Effect what it is. Now I know for many that sounds like nothing more than preachy, airy fairy gibberish, but it’s true for so many others. I have practically shed tears for this series, loved characters and it’s given me more hours of entertainment and joy than I care to share; I cannot in good conscious sue BioWare for 5 minutes I disagreed with, even if I hated it immeasurably.
OK, rant over, what I’m saying is that after all they’ve given me in Mass Effect as a gaming experience, one of the greatest gaming experiences to have ever graced this planet I might say; I’m not going to go and screw them over with a lawsuit just because I’m having a tantrum. Boycotting is fine; actually starting a group that supports charity in order to persuade BioWare to see otherwise is better. Giving constructive criticism and using positive feedback are all things I’m 100% for and encourage; but as soon as you try to sue them, or just complain without any form of criticism for BioWare or its fans to work with, well then I just lose all respect for you.
In Conclusion… for now!
I actually have a lot more to say and I’m going to be expressing it soon; hoping to deal with the ramifications for the rest of the industry should this lawsuit prove successful. I would now but if I made this any longer I know every comment to this column will be tl;dr and I don’t want that. So for now, let this bubble and brew.