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Tell Me About Your Emotional Connection to Mass Effect

Nick's looking for your answers.

The Shepard Trilogy of Mass Effect has finally come to an end, which has evoked some strong feelings from fans. There's outrage over the ending and not just the ending, but its impact on the series as a whole. I have no feelings on the topic as I have not even played a single title in the series, and truthfully, I have very little ambition to ever do so. Sure, I gave Mass Effect a shot and I actually own both the first and second title, but as someone who's not much a fan of sci-fi, the story and characters hold little intrigue for me. But this is not about me; this is about you, the fans of the series.

I'm looking for answers – I want to know what makes this series so special to you, because I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it. We've seen countless games release, even full series come and go, but I've never before observed such investment in a series. The absolute outrage over the ending to Mass Effect 3 has really brought the topic to a head. If fans were not so invested, this ending wouldn't have hit the community as hard as it did.

So, what is it about this series that evokes such an emotional response? What makes the games different or unique from others? Why does the ending of Mass Effect 3 evoke such rage that you're willing to throw money into charity just to send a message to Bioware?

Not being a fan of the series, I feel so detached from all of this, but I'm confident someone can explain it to me so I better understand this controversy.




03/16/2012 at 01:56 PM

In Julian's Mass Effect Pixltalk I talked entirely too much about what I love about ME and why it matters so much to me. I covered everything from gameplay, to the universe, characters, religion, ethics, everything. I haven't played ME3 though so I have no idea what fans are talking about and I know nothing of the ending. I'm trying to avoid everything as much as possible because it'll probably be a while before I play the game. At the moment the #1 game on my to-do list is Deus Ex Human Revolution. I can put Mass Effect 3, Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite, and Far Cry 3 on the back burner for now. So far the only game this year that's a must have for me is Halo 4. I will get Halo 4. I will get a collectors edition if they offer it, and I will pay extra for fast shipping. Even if I have to work the corner and sell my ass, you better believe I will come up with the money for Halo in every way.

I love Mass Effect because of the characters, story, and cinematics. It's the melting pot and combines the things I love about Star Trek, Star Wars, Halo, and other sci fi. In one of my recent blogs I explained my distaste for the gameplay and combat, but Mass Effect is one of those series that keeps me in it despite its flaws and I really adore it for very personal reasons. I like the characters, my Shepard, and how everybody deals with each other. You have to play it and see how everything works to really understand why it's so different. On paper its simple. A sci fi setting, space ships, ancient threat, save the galaxy. Halo anybody? Gears of War clone anybody? But in execution it's different than anything else and becomes something completely fresh. It's all in the details and moments of the game. I can't just tell you, "It's the story and characters Nick, I swear!" because everybody says that about any game they like, we have all heard it before. It's all in the small moments and details that makes ME on top of the world as far as storytelling and character development. The combat mechanics, level design, animation, and engine the games use are all going to be antiquated in the blink of an eye (they kind of already are). A few years from now none of those aspects of the games will hold up, I think they all are lacking, but I will always remember Eden Prime, Legion, Miranda Lawson, Mordin Solus, the Genophage, the Krogan Rebellions, trying to teach Garrus about mercy and patience, trying to get Mordin to see the ethical consequences of his Genophage weapon, getting Ashley to be tolerant of aliens and talking with her about her religion.

It's a really mature setting and the games are like an intellectual exercise, just like Star Trek. It's not special because it's got "super dooper badass graphics bro", or awesome online play. Mass Effect is special because it gives you well wrought characters in a well wrought universe, and lets you choose how it all evolves, interact with it all, and just be there feeling like you're living a second life in this gameworld. My Shepard is mine, nobody elses, I'm meeting incredible people, saving the world, being confronted with issues other games don't touch. The games allow you to explore your own ethics, personality, and emotions the way other games haven't. I think that is the best point I can make.

Playing ME might teach you more about yourself than it will about anything else. If you go into the series just because you want to shoot everything, get achievments, and bang chicks, you're going to miss everything that really matters about it. It has these deep core elements and brings you intellectual exercise, but it's wrapped in a package of accessible, action packed, sexy, epic sci-fi, and spectacle.

Our Take

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

03/16/2012 at 02:12 PM

At first, I wasn't a big fan of Mass Effect. I didnt understand the gameplay, and I wasn't paying attention to the characters and plot overall. Little did I know, that those are the basis on which Mass Effect is built on. 

The thing that brought me back to ME now that I think of it was the fact that your choices actually get directly imported to the sequel. This premise interested me, and I gave ME another shot. What I found was something spectacular.

What I persoally liked about ME, ME2, and ME3 is the fact that the characters and story are unlike anything else. I get that if you aren't into Science Fiction, it is probably not very interesting. That said, the whole story is woven together extremely well, better than any other gaming story that I know of (save for the ending of 3 in some respects). Along with that is the lore. If you want to know something about a specific alien race, or a war that happened prior to the game, you have a way to find out. The access of that information lets people, like me, get invested in whats going on. Before you know it, you begin to care about what is happening and who its happening to.

This is also amplified by the brilliant characters. They built a cast that people can get attatched to, or even hate. Its up to you to decide who you like and who you dont like, and your reasons are all based on how you are as a person. Some people love Ashley because of her love of God and poetry. Others hate her because they think she's racist against non-human races. The fact that this kind of discussion can be had between players just helps people get invested even more. 

The friendship that most people develop with the mainstay characters, like Tali and Garrus are phenominal. By the time you get to the third game, you feel like you truly have been through it all with these characters, and they respond to it. Find any other game that does that in the way that Mass Effect does, because I don't know of it. The writing is so great in fact, that side characters that you meet on a whim become memorable because of what they have been through. Along with that, when you do run into these side characters in the sequels, it makes it all the more special. 

Mass Effect is great to me because of the ways that you get attatched to the characters. Learning about their past, fighting with them, sharing humerous and serious moments with them, they make them seem real to me. Garrus and Tali are some of my favorite characters in gaming because of that. I cant think of any other experience in any other media that has the same kind of connection that I helped influence.

Idk about anyone else, but thats why I'm emotionally connected to Mass Effect

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

03/16/2012 at 03:35 PM

Blue boobs.

Nick DiMola Director

03/16/2012 at 04:01 PM


Joaquim Mira Media Manager

03/16/2012 at 04:39 PM

No, no, no, no. Bloobs are a secondary ramification of the Blue Boobs that look almost as real as the Blue Boobs approach to the uncanny valley but fail at the same time because they're not real.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

03/17/2012 at 10:14 PM

I feel like I covered this in the Mass Effect edition of PixlTalk, but I'll bite.

I love games that excel at world building.That's why I enjoy Dead Space, the Legacy of Kain series, and even Primal on PS2. However, there are few universes in gaming that I want to spend a lot of time in. The Mass Effect universe is one of those. The lore of ME is so deep and detailed that I could spend years absorbing it all.

I want a Mass Effect movie. I want more Mass Effect novels and comics. I want games that explore different aspects of the universe, in all types of game genres. I want to see the home world of the volus. I want to see what female turians and krogans look like. I want to see a quarian's face, dammit.

Beyond that, as far as the emotional attachment goes, it's already been said. It's the characters. Not just the people in your party, but your crew and the people you meet along the way. But above all of that is Shepard. Never before have I felt so much ownership over a character. When I lost my Shepard and had to recreate him (not quite successfully) I was broken up about it. That may seem silly, but I've played with that character so much that I can't see him as anything else.

I play Final Fantasy XI. Our server merged with another, and I lost my character's name in the process, because there was another character with that name on our new server. I've felt disconnected from my avatar ever since. If somehow my save data had been completely lost before moving into ME 3, I would have felt the same way. I wouldn't be able to just roll a new Shepard. I'd have to play through the first two games to make sure that what made it into part 3 was MY Shepard, and not some impostor.

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

03/19/2012 at 09:43 AM

That's actually the exact reason I went back to ME 1 when was I was playing ME 3. It was a great game, but I realized that b/c I didn't have my old save data it wasn't really my Shepard.

Anyways I don't think that there is much more I could add to this conversation Julian, Michael, and JD already covered what makes this series so great.

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