Note: This was technically written as an essay in March 2012 for The New Yorker Class. However, given that it is intended to be in the New Yorker style, I have categorized it as an Article.
Time For Another Gaming Revolution:
Mass Effect 3 publisher BioWare sets a new precedent
“The machinery of gaming has run amok. Instead of serving creative vision, it suppresses it. Instead of encouraging innovation, it represses it. Instead of taking its cue from our most imaginative minds, it takes its cue from the latest month’s PC Data list. Instead of rewarding those who succeed, it penalizes them with development budgets so high and royalties so low that there can be no reward for creators. Instead of ascribing credit to those who deserve it, it seeks to associate success with the corporate machine. It is time for revolution.” –Designer X
“Designer X” is the voice of the Scratchware Manifesto, a statement of purpose written by a small group of video game developers in 2000. The Scratchware Manifesto calls out the gaming industry, “An industry that was once the most innovative and exciting artistic field on the planet [that] has become a morass of drudgery and imitation.” In the twelve years since, not only has the “machinery of gaming,” the large publishers and marketing schemes that encourage conformity and profit, become even more virulent, but a new enemy to the artistic vision of game designers stands on the horizon. Who? Why, the video game players, of course. In response to a very loud fan reaction to the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, Ray Muzyka— co-founder of the game’s developer BioWare— promised that BioWare will provide “a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey” (Myzuka). BioWare’s decision to provide alternative, optional or additional ending content in response to community dissent sets a new precedent for the gaming industry and gaming fans, but is that good or bad? Continue reading Time For Another Gaming Revolution