I liked Mass Effect 3. I hated the ending. I wasn’t the only one, obviously, and for the past week nerds everywhere have made a Bruce Banner-ish transformation into unstoppable beings of pure, unsubstantiated rage. I’m all for voicing your dissatisfaction, but the means that many fanboys have used to share their hatred for Mass Effect 3 — stalking Bioware employees and launching personal attacks over the internet, running and crying to the government — only serve as a reminder that a good chunk of the gaming community really are the whiney, emotionally unbalanced man-children that the mass media likes to stereotype gamers as.
Now, I’m not trying to group everybody who hated Mass Effect in with these extremists; some people have actually managed to be very productive with their anger. A group of ME haters managed to unite and raise over $53,000 for charity. A lot of people have managed to voice their dissatisfaction with eloquently written reviews and blog posts filled with constructive criticism and a genuine analytical viewpoint. I’m not talking about those people in this article. No, I’m talking about the developmentally crippled fanboys who have dedicated themselves to personally destroying anyone and everyone associated with the development of this game, and who seem to have tossed aside all logic, rationality, and basic decency just so they can get the word out that this video game ruined everything.
Today, Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka, who has worked as a producer on games like Baldur’s Gate and Knights of the Old Republic, posted a polite, civil blog post on the Bioware website that basically said that he’s aware of the situation, that Bioware is taking steps to address all the complaints, and he stated that while Bioware appreciates any criticism regarding their games, but they will not tolerate personal attacks or insults. He welcomed any and all complaints, but simply and eloquently stated that he didn’t want any part of the destructive, hateful vitriol that nerds are so fond of spewing when something doesn’t make them happy.
Obviously, the comments sections of every major website who ran this story were soon filled with personal attacks and insults, and the childish backlash over Mass Effect 3 continued unabated.
Like I said earlier, there are proper ways to voice your dissatisfaction with a game: Stop buying games from that publisher or developer. Don’t recommend the game to friends. Hell, go and demand a refund. This is going to come as a shock to a large portion of the internet, but it’s possible to let developers know you’re unhappy with them without having to resort to stalking them on Twitter, threatening to kill them, calling them “fags,” or having the rest of the hiveminded fanboy army harass them 24 hours a day.
Now, this kind of knee-jerk, childish, purely emotional reaction isn’t anything new, especially when it comes to dealing with gaming sub-culture: we’ve all dealt with fanboys and trolls, and anyone who’s played a few random matches in Call of Duty knows how immature most gamers can be, especially once they’re allowed to hide behind the anonymity of the internet. But just because it’s always been like this doesn’t mean we should accept it. This type of behavior does nothing but make the entire gaming industry and community look bad. If you’ve ever wondered why the mainstream media doesn’t take gamers seriously, just look at the comments section on any major gaming website, and you’ll likely see dozens of examples of why.
The backlash over Mass Effect 3 has provided one of the most extreme examples of petulant fanboy entitlement: one particularly butthurt individual ran to the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that the game’s ending (and it’s admitted lack of choice,) constituted a claim of false advertising. Almost every lawyer out there agrees that the claim doesn’t hold water legally and will probably be thrown out, but regardless, there were a lot of fanboys on the internet who thought that yes, Mass Effect 3’s crimes were so egregious that the government needed to be brought into it.
Gamers and game companies have long argued that games are art, and are therefore entitled to free speech by the First Amendment. We’ve gleefully villified politicians like Joe Lieberman and Leland Yee who have tried to restrict the sale of games, and gamers have united in their stance that the government has no place censoring or dictating the content of our video games.
Yet the moment a game does something that we don’t like — as Mass Effect 3 does during its ending — some fanboys run crying to the FTC and demand that they use government power to punish Bioware over the content of their game. It’s hypocrisy of the highest degree, and again, it does nothing but make gamers once again look like the self-absorbed babies we often get stereotyped as.
I get it. We all get it. Bioware gets it, so does EA. You’re not happy with Mass Effect 3. I know, I understand, I hated the ending and the never ending ads for DLC too. But you know what? I’ve hated lots of things about lots of other games, movies, tv shows, and comics before, and I didn’t feel the need to torment the people involved or try to use the government as my personal army. If you don’t like something, by all means, criticize it. That’s what I do on this site, and the internet likewise offers you a nearly infinite amount of avenues to make your opinion heard. But as with anything else, there’s a right way and wrong way to do things, and a lot of fanboys are reacting to Mass Effect in a very, very wrong way. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: act like a fucking adult and ask yourself if your hobby is really worth all the misery you’re creating.