To many gamers, Mass Effect is the defining franchise of a generation. With an exciting and varied universe accompanied by the real characters that grow around you, there is no wonder that the final iteration of this space opera was at the top of the wish lists this year for millions of people. Pure Sophistry has spent hours capturing some of the amazing Easter eggs:
Unfortunately after the release of Mass Effect 3 many gamers felt not only dissatisfied, but cheated after a conclusion to an overall wonderful experience was quick, confusing and didn’t allow players to have the same level of ‘choice’ the Mass Effect franchise is famous for.
One of those gamers is Eric, who with the help of thousands contributing to a unifying voice created the RetakeME3 movement . Since its inception the organization has made headlines around the world – with well over 50 thousand members and tens of thousands of dollars donated to charity, the hard work of thousands wanting more has dispelled initial concerns that the group was merely “a vocal minority of petulant gamers.”
I had the great pleasure to speak with Eric, the creator of the RetakeME3 facebook page and the overall organizer of the movement. I asked the BioWare Forum Community what they would like to find out about where the movement is heading and who is organizing it and these were the top 10 questions everyone wanted to know:
1. Why did you start the Retake movement?
I finished playing ME3 very late on March 7th. For several minutes I couldn’t do anything but stare at my computer screen. After that I reloaded the last save and replayed the ending again to see if I had missed anything…then I did it a third time. After realizing that I hadn’t made any mistakes I felt I had been punched in the gut. I shut off my PC and went to bed because I didn’t feel like thinking about what I had just witnessed.
When I awoke the next morning I realized I had to do something. When I created the “Demand a Better Ending to Mass Effect 3” Facebook page, and used the phrase #RetakeMassEffect for the first time I expected to gather maybe 30 or 40 people together to complain for a few days, and then the group would slowly fade away.
After the followers of the page kept growing I realized we weren’t going to just give up. Almost all of my free time since March 7th has gone into organizing the Retake movement into something cohesive and effective. EA/BioWare/The gaming community can ignore a million individual voices, but when those voices gather together to shout we cannot be ignored.
I created the Retake movement because I have put too much time, energy, money, effort, and support into the Mass Effect series to allow such an amazing game series to end on such a horrific note.
2. Do you work for BioWare/EA?
No, I am in no way associated with anyone or anything involved with the gaming industry.
3. Do you view yourself as the “leader” of the Retake movement?
Not at all. I may have started the ball rolling, but the Retake movement is a combined effort by the fans of one of the greatest sci-fi series to have ever been created.
I view myself as the person that listens to the movement as a whole, and can act as a single voice to the outside world. I am an organizer, and spokesperson at best. I follow where the majority leads. There is no single leader of the Retake movement. To borrow from a line in ME2: “We are legion”.
4. (Going to take a question directly from the forum. Originally asked by Cro730)
“Many non-gamers and many people who do not play Mass Effect fail to see why many players are getting so upset over a video game. To them, it’s just a video game. To us, it’s an interactive, immersive and emotional experience, played out over the course of 3 games. How can we (the supporters), explain to these people how we see it through our perspective?”
I’ve tried to explain how I felt about the ending to ME3, and I’ve found it to be very difficult to make them understand. BioWare presented the Mass Effect world to us and told us to make it our own…and we did. No two time playing the game are the same. No two people have every had the same experience playing it.
Imagine you were given supplies to make an art project. You put hundreds of hours into making it, you crafted it carefully making sure it fit your style exactly. It was your own, no one else could ever make anything like it.When it came time to present your project it suddenly came alive and told you that you had three choices.
You could either destroy your project (along with every other work of art in the world), you could share your project with the world, but that everyone viewing it would go mad after seeing it, or you could be kicked it the stomach by an iron shod donkey with a hangover. Also your best friends just went on an amazing vacation without you, and are now living on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean (regardless of your above choice).
That kind of sums up the ending of ME3, and makes about as much sense.
5. There’s something to be said for the artists, employees, writers and companies involved creating their own product. Why do you think that fans have the right to complain about a bad ending?
The word “entitled” is being passed around a lot by people in regard to the movement. While I respect the right of everyone to complain (I myself enjoy complaining about random things as a pastime), I do not believe you can view video games in the same light as works of art, literature, or movies (though there is precedent for fan outcry to change the endings for these mediums as well). Video games are too interactive to be held in the same view. While a game is being developed it is the gaming companies’ to do with as they please. However when they finish the game, and sell it to the fans saying “make your own story,” fans are doing just that. Especially with a series like Mass Effect where no two games are alike, and no two people play the same way. It become YOUR story, and you have the right to complain about that. I believe that a lot of people (and gaming companies) need to remember that they are providing a product, and that gamers are their customers. Customers have a right to complain about a bad product. I’ve worked in retail – if I sold someone a product and they took it home, found it damaged, and brought it back for a refund I would not yell at them for being “entitled.” I would apologize for the situation, ask if there is anything I could do to help rectify the problem, and do what I had to do to keep a customer. Without customer loyalty a business cannot succeed – this shouldn’t be an argument about gamer entitlement it should be seen that a VERY loyal fanbase is upset. If the fanbase is the foundation that holds up a gaming company isn’t it more important to keep your foundation strong to maintain your support than to ridicule that same foundation?
6. Why are you using the Child’s Play charity to further your own needs, and to make BioWare look bad?
We aren’t. The goal of the Child’s Play fundraiser is to help some kids. We view this as an opportunity to make something good out of a bad situation. We love video games. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be making so much noise about a bad ending to a single game. We want to share our love of gaming with the kids benefiting from Child’s Play.
There is no hidden agenda here.
7. Do you support reporting BioWare to the FTC or other organizations in an attempt to bring about a lawsuit?
No. The Retake movement isn’t here to attack anyone. BioWare has given us some amazing games, and we love them for that. While it’s hard to support them given how this ending has hurt so many fans we can at least show them the respect they deserve and confront them AS their fans. Not a horde of angry individuals who just want to lash out in any way possible. We need BioWare on OUR side if we ever want our goals realized. Antagonizing them wont get us that.
8. If the Retake Mass Effect movement succeeds, do you think this will be a historical achievement in the gaming community?
I think it has already become one. There has been backlash from the gamer community before, but nothing this widespread with this much media attention. We have (in general) acted as an organized force to spread word of our movement, and our goals.
For the media to have spread word of us to the outside world is amazing. People who have never heard of Mass Effect or never played a video game have heard of us. For a long time video games have not received the same respect from the art community as other forms of entertainment such as literature, movies, and music.
By gathering so many people together, and by gathering so much attention the #RetakeMassEffect movement is starting to change all that.
People see that fans of video games can have the same fervor as people that talk about their favorite book series, or films.
9. If you eventually receive the ending you want, or even if you don’t will the #RetakeMassEffect movement disappear?
No we wont. We will change our format, and goals, but the Movement has brought too many people together to simply go away. Ten years from now we may not be known as the Retake movement, but I believe we’ll still exist in some form.
10. I don’t care about your movement, but I do want to help sick children. How can I do that?
Easy! Just check out this link:
Later this week I have a full audio interview asking the tough questions to the Retake Movement and seeing what the recent news by BioWare Co-founder means to their strategy.