The countless unexpected variables—the unprecedented furor, surprising governmental responsiveness, and overpowering community solidarity—of the SOPA/PIPA protests led many political analysts to conclude that the internet had now official become a force to be reckoned with. Though it’s hard to draw a direct line between the two, it’s hard to ignore the impact of this and other recent successes by online communities engaging in startingly successful forms of activism and the recent convergence of unruly and disgruntled gamers against their favorite developers. Take, for instance, the recent uproar against the ending of Mass Effect 3 that has generated some $30,000 since launching:
Mass Effect 3 launched earlier this month, and is the final game in theMass Effect trilogy, ending the story of Commander Shepard.
However, a number of fans of the series are not happy with the way in which the story ends, and are petitioning for Bioware to add alternate endings to the game in order to provide better explanations and closure.
“We believe that it is the right of the writers and developers of the Mass Effect series to end that series however they see fit,” explains the pledge page, with which these gamers are urging Bioware to add new endings.
It continues, “However, we also believe that the currently available endings to the series do not provide the wide range of possible outcomes that we have come to expect from a Mass Effect game.”
Mass Effect’s long-time creative director Casey Hudson, for his part, has remained relatively firm in his stance behind the story as it currently stands. But more than a story about Mass Effect 3, or even something about Bioware, to me this is a story about how online communities and the growing reality of internet-bred activism is changing the current face of gamers. Late last year, after all, eager Naughty Dog fans successfully petitioned the company to change it’s irritating new gunplay mechanics for the better. Kickstarter, meanwhile, is giving communities of fans and followers power to directly shape the success of their favorite projects independently of the usual financial strife and internal politics of the game industry. In realizing their own power, gamers should take more seriously what protests and movements in which they want to actually engage as they continue to change industry standards.