Part of the hook and appeal of video games is escape.
Giving us gateways to the unimaginable and unreachable, to put active control in our hands, to be the most important person in the world if only in a digital realm.
Canadian game house Bioware stands tall as one of the industry juggernauts, and the company received all new levels of acclaim and success with the release of the final chapter of its sci-fi epic “Mass Effect 3.”
Bioware has become one of the premier role playing game developers in the gaming landscape, with hits such as “Jade Empire,” “Dragon Age,” and “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” The aesthetics and styles differ but the core mechanics remain the same. Role playing games or RPGs are about user involvement.
The player gets to act out a power fantasy by creating a character and controlling their behavior which influences the way the game world is and reacts, with those choices being actively perceived.
The “Mass Effect” trilogy too takes core elements from the Bioware mold, but places it in a high future setting in the vein of Arthur C. Clark, Frank Herbert or Orson Scott Card, by creating a vast universe of characters, races and cultures given even the most ludicrous of ideas and places validity.
The series has achieved it’s level of success by taking two different types of gaming: Intense third person shooting and interactive storytelling and seamlessly marries them together.
The key to this marriage is in the gravity of your choices, each choice, good or evil, passive or aggressive holds sway on the overall narrative, when you finish one game in the series and start another all the choices made in the former affects the latter.
Who lived, who died, who you screwed over, who you hooked up with, all this matters and reshapes the story so that it’s a personal experience for the player.
“Mass Effect 3” is the culmination of a promise to gamers and the reward to said gamers for playing the series, showcasing a element that distinguishes the video games medium from others.
It’s an active experience, it’s not like a film or book where you enjoy it on a passive level.
Games require an active viewer in order for it to progress and where it progresses is on the player, and that is power, thats where games become art.