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Worth Reading: 03/23/2012

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

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

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“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

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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.
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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+