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Worth Reading: 03/23/2012

The topics of this week's Worth Reading could not be further apart.

In the indoctrination theory, all video games writing can only be about Mass Effect 3 forever.

It’s been a pretty slow two weeks, huh? Now, it makes more sense why Worth Reading and other regular Giant Bomb coverage has been slightly...erratic? Seriously, though, sorry about that.

It was painful to be so vague about what was happening to the site, but we found ourselves in a situation partially out of our control. You know, lawyers 'n stuff. We had to be quiet, and it really sucked, but hopefully you understand, and we really are working as fast as possible to get everything up to speed. Like this week's dumb TNT!

For now, baby steps. Today marks the return of Worth Reading, and I hope you’ll find it interesting. Yes, we're still talking about Mass Effect 3, but I wanted to share two essays that brought a different perspective. Honestly, I care very little about the logical holes you can poke in BioWare's story, and care far more about the reaction.

Hey, You Should Play This

“It’s a story about me.”

More than any other medium, video games can transport us, and make us part of experiences wildly unlike our own. Often, this means the hero fantasy, and generally, games only speak to a tiny, unrealistic set of personal experiences. When it comes to pure escapism, that’s fine, but games can and should aspire for more. dys4ia, created by Anna Anthropy (@auntiepixilante), is a deceptively simple game--simple looking, at least. dys4ia follows Anthropy’s decision to begin hormone replacement therapy. It’s only a few minutes long, but that’s all it needs.

Also, You Should Read These

I don’t know how much longer we’ll be talking about Mass Effect 3 at Giant Bomb, but I don’t think the conversation will be going away. Gus Mastrapa found a way to weave the ongoing dialogue within Unwinnable’s week-long examination of...RoboCop. You’ll just have to trust me on this one, but Mastrapa touches upon important aspects of the hero fantasy that Mass Effect revels in, and what happens when the hero fantasy is subverted. Space Jesus is no more. It’s more about RoboCop than it is about Mass Effect, but something tells me all of you will be okay with that.

From there it isn’t hard to look back at the arc of the movie and see all of RoboCop‘s Christ-like moments. Murphy’s gruesome death plays out like Jesus’ – especially that horrifying moment where his hand is blown to bits by a shotgun blast. The scene is the opposite of subtle, but how else would you communicate the cruelty of crucifixion in the context of an ’80s action picture? Murphy’s stigmata explodes in the profane red gout of a special effects squib. Then there’s Murphy’s ensuing resurrection and return as savior of Detroit. That’s where the comparisons seem to end, because Murphy, though a principled police officer, isn’t the social and spiritual revolutionary that Jesus Christ was. He is an avenger and protector. He is the culmination of science and society, with all their flaws written into his DNA and machine code.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the last few minutes of a saga you’ve dumped hundreds of hours into, forgetting all that came before it. Rock Paper Shotgun editor John Walker goes back and considers those moments, now lost in the kerfuffle that’s been the intense backlash to the ending. Walker also touches upon something I find really interesting: looking at your experience in a vacuum. The Internet is a terrific resource, once that allows us to finish a game and immediately find out what happened to everyone else. What if you didn’t know what the other possibilities were?

(Note: There are spoilers in Walker's essay).

I commented to others as I played the game over the last week how exciting it was that decisions I’d made five years ago were having an impact on the story I was being told now. My being able to continue a relationship with Garrus was a joy, and made a huge difference to how I experienced the game. The races I’d saved being present at the end, fighting alongside me, was more important to me than whether it actually made any difference to what happened.
Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
In the indoctrination theory, all video games writing can only be about Mass Effect 3 forever.

It’s been a pretty slow two weeks, huh? Now, it makes more sense why Worth Reading and other regular Giant Bomb coverage has been slightly...erratic? Seriously, though, sorry about that.

It was painful to be so vague about what was happening to the site, but we found ourselves in a situation partially out of our control. You know, lawyers 'n stuff. We had to be quiet, and it really sucked, but hopefully you understand, and we really are working as fast as possible to get everything up to speed. Like this week's dumb TNT!

For now, baby steps. Today marks the return of Worth Reading, and I hope you’ll find it interesting. Yes, we're still talking about Mass Effect 3, but I wanted to share two essays that brought a different perspective. Honestly, I care very little about the logical holes you can poke in BioWare's story, and care far more about the reaction.

Hey, You Should Play This

“It’s a story about me.”

More than any other medium, video games can transport us, and make us part of experiences wildly unlike our own. Often, this means the hero fantasy, and generally, games only speak to a tiny, unrealistic set of personal experiences. When it comes to pure escapism, that’s fine, but games can and should aspire for more. dys4ia, created by Anna Anthropy (@auntiepixilante), is a deceptively simple game--simple looking, at least. dys4ia follows Anthropy’s decision to begin hormone replacement therapy. It’s only a few minutes long, but that’s all it needs.

Also, You Should Read These

I don’t know how much longer we’ll be talking about Mass Effect 3 at Giant Bomb, but I don’t think the conversation will be going away. Gus Mastrapa found a way to weave the ongoing dialogue within Unwinnable’s week-long examination of...RoboCop. You’ll just have to trust me on this one, but Mastrapa touches upon important aspects of the hero fantasy that Mass Effect revels in, and what happens when the hero fantasy is subverted. Space Jesus is no more. It’s more about RoboCop than it is about Mass Effect, but something tells me all of you will be okay with that.

From there it isn’t hard to look back at the arc of the movie and see all of RoboCop‘s Christ-like moments. Murphy’s gruesome death plays out like Jesus’ – especially that horrifying moment where his hand is blown to bits by a shotgun blast. The scene is the opposite of subtle, but how else would you communicate the cruelty of crucifixion in the context of an ’80s action picture? Murphy’s stigmata explodes in the profane red gout of a special effects squib. Then there’s Murphy’s ensuing resurrection and return as savior of Detroit. That’s where the comparisons seem to end, because Murphy, though a principled police officer, isn’t the social and spiritual revolutionary that Jesus Christ was. He is an avenger and protector. He is the culmination of science and society, with all their flaws written into his DNA and machine code.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the last few minutes of a saga you’ve dumped hundreds of hours into, forgetting all that came before it. Rock Paper Shotgun editor John Walker goes back and considers those moments, now lost in the kerfuffle that’s been the intense backlash to the ending. Walker also touches upon something I find really interesting: looking at your experience in a vacuum. The Internet is a terrific resource, once that allows us to finish a game and immediately find out what happened to everyone else. What if you didn’t know what the other possibilities were?

(Note: There are spoilers in Walker's essay).

I commented to others as I played the game over the last week how exciting it was that decisions I’d made five years ago were having an impact on the story I was being told now. My being able to continue a relationship with Garrus was a joy, and made a huge difference to how I experienced the game. The races I’d saved being present at the end, fighting alongside me, was more important to me than whether it actually made any difference to what happened.
Staff
Posted by Crunchman

What you say?!

Posted by GioVANNI

@Crunchman said:

What you say?!

Video games.

Posted by fusrodah

DAT LINKS

Posted by superscott597

It's Friiday Friiday GOTTA GET DOWN ON FRIDAY!!!

Posted by OllyOxenFree

REALLY tired of hearing about Mass Effect 3 but I guess it can't be helped. All of this is truly just turning me off from getting around to playing the damn game. Not sure if I even want to now.

Posted by TheCreamFilling

What a coincidence mentioning RoboCop, I'm wearing an OCP shirt right now.

Posted by zeekthegeek

Really didn't like Walker's essay simply because he strawmans everyone against the ending, claiming they disliked the rest of the game as a rule. More than half his article is just about how great the rest of the game is, rather than defending the ending at all.

Edited by Animasta

I find it weird, all of the attention dys4ia is getting. Not to say I don't like it (I actually just got to the "order them off the internet" stage myself) but it still seems odd.

also I am way tired of the ME3 talk AS WELL

edit: also RPS's article about how the ending went wrong should have been posted as well, as a counterpoint

Posted by Nidzumi

Great recommendations as always, keep up the Instapaper Fodder

Posted by eroticfishcake

You know what you should play to alleviate all this ME3 talk? THIS

Edited by Gunharp

"It’s been a pretty slow two weeks, huh?"

That was a joke right? Like it was slow because of the transition? But it wasn't actually in the world of video games. I think I started my friday a little early...

Posted by geekbot

I always enjoy your recommendations. Keep up the great work!

Posted by Corvak

I'm pretty burned out on reading ME3 related things (that dead horse is starting to smell), but i'll check these out.

Posted by FLStyle
Posted by GilbertMordinAndSullivan

Thanks, Patrick, for linking to Dys4ia. It's storytelling and experience sharing through gaming done right. Seeing the hugely positive comments the game is getting made me smile - I was expecting a bunch of transphobic bullshit but that was happily the minority.

Posted by tourgen

John Walker's essay is embarrassing. I salute his lack of self-respect in the rat race to collect interweb clicks.

Posted by jdeano

Thanks , appreciate the recommendations!

Posted by Moonshadow101

It's always fun to read rebuttals that don't even seem like they're trying to address the actual original argument. : /

That aside, just went through dys4ia. Nice.

Posted by NTM

So no where the rumor that Prey 2 might be cancelled? NOOOO!

Posted by Olivaw

I could not disagree more with some of the stuff in John Walker's piece.

But I suppose it is a reprieve from the bulk of the stuff written about Mass Effect 3 so far.

Edited by Kesselrun

Walker's article really was disappointing. Not because I disagreed, but because I went into it hoping for some genuinely interesting points and got (as someone else brought up) strawman arguments and a whole lot of words that have nothing at all to do with people's actual issues. Same goes for Gary Whitta's diatribe.

I'm probably more in line with Jeff's opinion in that the ending was dumb for a lot of reasons, but they shouldn't change it, for what it's worth.

I'd suggest checking out California Literary Review's piece on Mass Effect 3, which includes the following:

For anyone with perspective, I know I’m belaboring a point – a bad ending can ruin all, from prose to play – but the sad fact is: no other professional review of Mass Effect 3 factored this ending into their universally positive ratings for the game, even though many acknowledged it as a problem. Not being one to claim conspiracy is to blame, I’d rather point to the more obvious culprit: ineptitude. A critic that can’t realize that narrative is often as important as gameplay – especially in an RPG – and that poorly constructed endings tarnish narrative quality – especially as it is the last thing the audience sees – is a poor critic indeed.
Posted by Dr_Robocop

I'll be honest, the only reason I clicked on this was because I saw a picture of RoboCop...

Posted by Distrato
More than any other medium, video games can transport us, and make us part of experiences wildly unlike our own. Often, this means the hero fantasy, and generally, games only speak to a tiny, unrealistic set of personal experiences. When it comes to pure escapism, that’s fine, but games can and should aspire for more.

Which is why Mass Effect 3 is a blight on the industry lol.

Posted by Robo

@Dr_Robocop: Same here.

But I'll give it a read later...provided I can confirm it's not more bitching about people bitching about Mass Effect 3.

Posted by MikeGosot
@Animasta said:

I find it weird, all of the attention dys4ia is getting. Not to say I don't like it (I actually just got to the "order them off the internet" stage myself) but it still seems odd.

also I am way tired of the ME3 talk AS WELL

edit: also RPS's article about how the ending went wrong should have been posted as well, as a counterpoint

...I find it odd too. These kinds of things usually gets little, if any, attention. But i found it pretty cool. I have a friend who is a transexual, and her history is not very different, but she still faces many difficulties. She was spanked once because she decided to go through hormones.
Posted by EmoMcGee

I came for the RoboCop image. I stayed for the article.

Edited by YukoAsho

I'm gonna say this right fucking now: I haven't gotten around to ME3 because there were other games on my list (and I'd planned to wait for a GOTY), but I'm at the point now where I don't even wanna LOOK at the fucking game anymore, much less play it. The whole bitch-fest is just annoying - on both sides of the "debate." The article posted by got it perfect, however. A narrative with a bad ending of course tarnishes the whole. It's like having sex with the guy of your dreams, only when the climax comes, he blunders through it and stops right before you're about to orgasm. Only in this case, the bullshit on both ends of the argument only serves to taint it even more.

@FLStyle said:

Patrick forgot this, give it a read.

Five female players defend the fighting game community against claims of sexism.

Oh he's not going to mention that, it doesn't go into the "FGC is eeeeeeeeeevil," mantra that the games media latched onto in the wake of Aris being a punk.

Online
Posted by themartyr

Dys4ia is affecting. It's an interesting way to deliver a narrative. Minigame collections are not a common point of reference for those seeking story. Granted, Anthropy's work isn't perhaps packaged with a complete denouement, per se, but it remains an interesting divergence, particularly being as it is hosted on Newgrounds, famed source of the Harry Pothead of eons passed.

That said, there is a fundamental, perhaps contrarian, part of me that feels Dys4ia is getting attention for the wrong reasons. Maybe wrong is too far. Disingenous, perhaps. It's the bleeding heart 'gamez r realz' idea that concerns me. I hope we're commending it for delivering an interesting and different subject matter, and not regarding it as a fascinating freakshow for all the world to see.

Posted by Duecenage

I really enjoyed Walker's article. He came out of the game with a similar experience to my own and is refreshing to see an opinion that isn't so one side or the other. He took the game at face value. That is as much a valid opinion as dissecting the game to the nth degree, and defending it tooth and nail. I also had the same pause for reflection at that moment in the game and ended up going a different route than he even did. Granted, I will admit that his article title doesn't jive with what he said in the article, but it's definitely a refreshing take.

Edited by theinnkeeper
Posted by chilipeppersman

@davo: Word!

Posted by mrpandaman

Man, John Walker and I have been saying the same thing. Mass Effect has been about the journey never about the destination. We were going to defeat Saren, Sovereign and the Geth. We were going to defeat the Collectors. And finally we were going to meet the Reapers head-on for the Battle of Earth.

My final choice was the destruction of the Reapers and all synthetic life, for the reason that although ancient race that created Reapers were trying to "protect" organic life from destroying itself, everything had become perverse.

The only problems I had with the Catalyst was that the child was its avatar. Much rather had I wanted it to be the avatar of fallen comrades such as Mordin, Thane, Legion, or Kaidan. People I cared for. Characters that would've reminded me of what I was fighting for.

I really hope that Bioware does not completely change the ending, I hope it just provides a little more clarity for some people.

Posted by Sunjammer

HOW DARE [ANYONE] COMPARE ROBOCOP TO [ANYTHING] !!!11

Posted by Gaspar

Frankly I find much of John Walker's work to be a solipsistic mess. You can quote me on that.

Edited by algertman

Sadly this a bunch of ME3 dick sucking articles.

Posted by Peanut

@Gaspar said:

Frankly I find much of John Walker's work to be a solipsistic mess. You can quote me on that.

AND I JUST DID!

Posted by august

@algertman said:

Sadly this a bunch of ME3 dick sucking articles.

One is a bunch?

Posted by Brackynews

@davo said:

I came for the RoboCop image.

... creep.

@Dr_Robocop: @Robo: Ok you duders get a pass. ;) Now DROP IT!

Posted by bhlaab

@Gaspar said:

Frankly I find much of John Walker's work to be a solipsistic mess. You can quote me on that.

Define "mess" (you CAN'T it's subjective!)

Posted by Animasta

john walker is usually pretty good but sometimes, in things like this, it just makes me wish Kieron hadn't quit :(

Posted by dr_mantas

@YukoAsho said:

I'm gonna say this right fucking now: I haven't gotten around to ME3 because there were other games on my list (and I'd planned to wait for a GOTY), but I'm at the point now where I don't even wanna LOOK at the fucking game anymore, much less play it. The whole bitch-fest is just annoying - on both sides of the "debate." The article posted by got it perfect, however. A narrative with a bad ending of course tarnishes the whole. It's like having sex with the guy of your dreams, only when the climax comes, he blunders through it and stops right before you're about to orgasm. Only in this case, the bullshit on both ends of the argument only serves to taint it even more.

Except the game is fucking amazing. Forget the ending, whatever. I even played without the DLC character once, and it was still amazing.

All of this, of course, only applies if you played and enjoyed the other two Mass Effect games.

Posted by Animasta

@dr_mantas said:

@YukoAsho said:

I'm gonna say this right fucking now: I haven't gotten around to ME3 because there were other games on my list (and I'd planned to wait for a GOTY), but I'm at the point now where I don't even wanna LOOK at the fucking game anymore, much less play it. The whole bitch-fest is just annoying - on both sides of the "debate." The article posted by got it perfect, however. A narrative with a bad ending of course tarnishes the whole. It's like having sex with the guy of your dreams, only when the climax comes, he blunders through it and stops right before you're about to orgasm. Only in this case, the bullshit on both ends of the argument only serves to taint it even more.

Except the game is fucking amazing. Forget the ending, whatever. I even played without the DLC character once, and it was still amazing.

All of this, of course, only applies if you played and enjoyed the other two Mass Effect games.

it's not that good dude. its good, but it's definitely not amazing

Posted by Baillie

@Animasta said:

@dr_mantas said:

@YukoAsho said:

I'm gonna say this right fucking now: I haven't gotten around to ME3 because there were other games on my list (and I'd planned to wait for a GOTY), but I'm at the point now where I don't even wanna LOOK at the fucking game anymore, much less play it. The whole bitch-fest is just annoying - on both sides of the "debate." The article posted by got it perfect, however. A narrative with a bad ending of course tarnishes the whole. It's like having sex with the guy of your dreams, only when the climax comes, he blunders through it and stops right before you're about to orgasm. Only in this case, the bullshit on both ends of the argument only serves to taint it even more.

Except the game is fucking amazing. Forget the ending, whatever. I even played without the DLC character once, and it was still amazing.

All of this, of course, only applies if you played and enjoyed the other two Mass Effect games.

it's not that good dude. its good, but it's definitely not amazing

The game is amazing. I don't think the story is as great as the first, but gameplay wise, it is easily the best.

Posted by dr_mantas

@Animasta: You know what they say about opinions, right?

Posted by ghostNPC

dys4ia is... very different. I really enjoyed it.

Edited by ptys

I think like Jeff said, we're harsh on ME3 more-so than most games because they were going into it with the foundation to deliver the game of this generation! I presume E.A.s responsible for rushing the production, had it been with a developer like Blizzard or Rock Star we probably would have got the masterpiece we all craved. It's a great game! It should have been a brilliant game!

Posted by prestonhedges

Wow. I'm surprised you didn't somehow relate dys4ia to Mass Effect 3 as well. You could have gone for a triple play, Klepek.

Posted by Humanity
Posted by dropabombonit

Great to see this back, I read John Walker's article on Monday and he is spot on with the points he makes

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