Stropp's World

Games And Gamery

Bioware, Mass Effect 3, and Artistic Integrity

Posted by Stropp on March 23, 2012

Despite not having bought or played Mass Effect 3 yet, it’s hard to have missed the ruckus about how the Mass Effect series has ended.

Lot’s of players have expressed displeasure at how the story ends, some demanding that Bioware change the ending to suit them. I think I even read that someone has initiated a lawsuit against the devs. (I might be mistaken there, people these days sue over so many trivial things it’s hard to keep them all straight.)

It looks like Bioware is caving to these demands, albeit in a way that doesn’t compromise their artistic vision.

But doesn’t considering changing the ending in the first place mean the compromise has already happened?

The crazy thing is how much of an issue this has become.

Books, movies, music all have examples where the story ends weakly, or the band tries something new that the fans don’t care for. But how often do you see the level of entitlement that we see from the game community demanding that the artists change their or face lawsuits?

It may be that Bioware have produced an unsatisfactory ending to the Mass Effect 3 series, but if they as the artists behind the series believe in their art then they shouldn’t change it because some don’t like the way the story ends.

Are Games Art?

Posted by Stropp on May 21, 2010

This is something that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now, even before the latest commentary on Roger Ebert’s widely publicised notions a few weeks ago that games are not art.

It’s a topic that keeps popping up from time to time, and is it always seems to come from quarters of the entertainment industry that are deeply entrenched in the old ways of doing things. Ebert for instance is a movie critic and consequently sees movies, and probably to a lesser extent, television as art. He’s involved in that industry and knows the processes and participants intimately and regards what they do as art.

On the other hand, Ebert doesn’t know much about the game industry. He displays his ignorance by making the blanket statement that games aren’t art. He doesn’t know the participants in the game industry, or the artistic processes (or procedural processes) that go into making a game. His pronunciation has no more meaning than a English literature professor claiming that Shakespear is art while comic books aren’t.

However, there’s one very good way to determine what if games, or anything else for that matter, is art.

Is it produced primarily through creative means?

By that I mean, is there a creative process involved. Movies have writers, artists, set makers, costumers, cinematographers — dozens of individuals who apply the creative process to the movie. Thus, a movie is art.

Games have writers, artists (2D and 3D), set designers (3D modellers), cinematographers (game designers) — dozens of individuals who apply the creative process to the game.

Thus, by the very same criteria that we consider a movie as art, a game is art.