The End: ME3 and MMOs
By Jonathan Doyle (Ardua), OnRPG Journalist
Do you know what I enjoy?
Anyone who said “MMOs” or “games” gets zero points because we are on OnRPG. That’d be like me asking you if water is wet.
The answer I’m fishing for, for the sake of narrative, is stories. Information if I am completely honest. I like knowing. I like knowing how it all turns out, how people get on, how in the end the good guys won and the bad guys didn’t. Or not as the case may be.
So long as I get to know.
Naturally stories have structure. A beginning, middle and end. Endings are always tough. Heck, if you could see my GoodReads, you’d see that I have watched worlds end a lot in the last year. Series come to a close, stories end. That is the way of things.
Recently Mass Effect 3 ended. There will be no deeply explicit spoilers because if I may make a private admission? I haven’t played it. I don’t own any of the Mass Effect games. Oh sure, I’ve read some of the books and I watched enthralled as my brother played through the first oh so long ago.
But no matter if you like it, loathe it or haven’t played it, the fact remains that Mass Effect 3 has drawn a story to a close. The world has ended.
Spoiler Here. Be thee warned.
Shepard dies. Or lives. You know. Depending.
The Reapers are defeated. Or not, again…. Depending.
The Mass Relays go boom, that one is set in stone.
And then. The story is done.
“The Shepard” won. However you finish the game or if you even accept it as an ending is at the moment immaterial. What is true is that your part is done, your thread of the narrative has come to an end and for you the world is finished.
Other material may flesh out the world. In books that’d be a short story penned by the author that can be slotted in any old place in the chronology. Nowadays in games, that means DLC.
Ultimately though the universe of the game lives on. It hasn’t gone to the great big idea heap in the sky. The world you created and played is no more, true, but the universe persists. Other stories may come and break your heart all over again when they end, but there will always be the possibility for more.
Which brings us to the reason for this little defense of Mass Effect 3.
I hope when it comes time to close down any of the online games that I play that I am given an ending. With Mass Effect 3, it isn’t necessarily the end you want or even an end some accept. Some people have even gone on to give money to charity to the tune of over $30,000 because they hated the ending that much.
But at least they have one and they have the universe there still. One day someone can go back, tell more stories, show more sides.
When our MMO game of choice ends, the universe ends with it. The persistent world we have played in ceases to be in its entirety. There is no potential universe sitting there with the promise of stories untold. You either got in the game and told your story on your way to pvp fame, max level or craftsman history. Or you didn’t.
One day when the money is no longer coming in like it used to, or it is too hard to compete against newer MMOs, or for any other common reason in the business world, our worlds will end.
That is why I want a Mass Effect 3 ending for one of them. Not because I necessarily agree with it or disagree with it. Not even because I personally like it or not. As I said, I haven’t played the games so I personally am not as invested in it as people who have played for years to get to this point are.
My ultimate desire is to avoid the worlds of T.S. Elliot. While we’re talking about single player games, I might as well jog your memory by saying you probably heard them out of Cortana in Halo 3.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
No matter what, I want an ending. I want an ending even if I hate it so much I’m inspired to donate thousands of dollars towards a group that proves my dedication of utter hatred. Or love as the case may be.
If my universe has to end, I want it to go out with a bang.
Most importantly, as long as people are talking about it, or remember it, it never really has truly ended.
For that I’ll take an ending I might hate.