Grant Rants

Mass Effect 3 and Charles Dickens

- March 22nd, 2012

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens, and the rest of you!

So readers of the rant may have become painfully aware of my, um, obsession with all things Mass Effect. I luurrves it! (Yes, “lurve” is a word. It’s perfectly cromulan.)

In my last blog post, I wrote about the fanboy rage over the game’s ending and this insane demand that Bioware, the producer of Mass Effect, change it. Nonsense, said I. The ending is great. It just isn’t spoon fed to you and a writer stays true to his or her vision, even if people hate it. QED.

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Is there a DLC in that light?

Well, if you hop over to fellow Sun Media blogger Matthew Dykstra, you’ll see that Bioware is…well not changing the ending so much as perhaps “clarifying” it with some downloadable content in about a month’s time  to address said fanboy rage.

This still strikes me as a spark of the burning stupid from an artistic point of view. Interactive medium or not, you write your story and let the chips fall where they may. What you don’t do is bend to the fickle will of an audience, right? Right?

Putting aside, for the moment, the principle that an artist puts their work out there to be judged for what it is without compromise, there is, as it turns out, precedent for this sort of thing.

Many moons ago, before people had evolved the skill to text, drive and drink coffee at the same time (Ah, not that I know about that…That’s really dangerous you know…really…no responsible adult would do that…) people read books and went to the theatre. What’s that you say? Well, citizens of the future, books are funny little things where words are printed on, gasp, paper. And theatre? That is sorta like TV without the box. (Speaking of which, be sure to check out the Standard’s Angela Scappatura in Cabaret by Garden City Productions. It’s an excellent show that runs for two more weekends.)

Ok, I was totally going somewhere with this….oh right, ok…so the point was, in this distant past without electronics, there was a charming fellow named Charles Dickens. You may have even heard of him. He wrote a brilliant book called Great Expectations.

The original ending was not well recieved. For most of the tale, Great Expectations’ hero Pip deeply loves the cold hearted Estella. But it doesn’t work out and Pip bravely moves on (although forever remaining single) and one day comes across a life beaten Estella on the street. He walks away saying that time and a hard life had “had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be.” (Zeusdamn brilliant line that is.)

A bitter sweet, if sadly realistic ending.

Dicken’s had fanboys before there were fanboys and they freaked. One shudders to think what they would have done to poor Charles if the internet was kicking about back then. You can imagine the internet postings: “Charles Dickens has ruined my life. I demand he changes the ending of Great Expectations or I will never buy another one of his books….oooh wait, what’s that? Bleak House? Coooool. Saw the trailer. Looked awesome…”

The ending was too sad, they said. Estella should see how awesome Pip is and be with him. They’d be happy, for crying out loud and the poor guy’s patience and love needed to be rewarded. Why can’t she see that? Whhyyyyyyy?

(Seriously, they made the people who flipped out over the Star Wars special edition DVDs look reasonable.)

I suppose Dickens was, in his way, like Bioware. Or maybe Bioware is like Dickens. Whatever. In any case, he listened to his readers and rewrote the ending so that Pip and Estella met after her husband died, and they get to spend their twilight years together. Never mind that Estella should have wised up before that and….*sigh* never mind. I’ll start ranting. Point is, most copies of the book you find today do not even contain the original ending and most people remember Pip and Estella finally becoming a happy couple.

Bioware is likely to be criticized by the likes of me for bowing to fan pressure by, perhaps, compromising the integrity of their original work.

But then again, I’m one of the few who prefer the honesty of the original ending of Great Expectations and really, who am I to argue with Charles Dickens?

Categories: News, philosophy, video games

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