It’s been just under a week since the hotly-anticipated Mass Effect 3 was released, and already, the game is shrouded in controversy. If day-one DLC and gay romance weren’t enough, the game has now come under fire for having poorly-written endings. I haven’t had the chance to play the game yet, so I can’t personally comment on how awful these endings are. However, there’s a poll on the official Mass Effect forums in which 20 000 people have voted to petition Bioware to change the endings of the game. I’d like to commend these 20 000 people for standing up for what they believe in. As a subset of the most rabid, forum-dwelling fans, they’re undoubtedly representative of the 3 million or so people who have purchased the game, and if they think the endings are awful, then I’m sure I will as well. Moreover, if they hadn’t spoken up, then who would have? Who would have berated Mass Effect 3’s writers for not having the psychic prescience to anticipate fan reaction to the story? Who would have demanded that Bioware put in the extra time to do additional voiceover, motion capture, programming, and animation in order to create new endings? Who would have spoken for the hundreds of thousands of players who spend only a fraction of their free time gaming, who like to go outside and get some fresh air every now and then, and who won’t complete the game for another two or three weeks? These angry fans are doing God’s work, as far as I’m concerned.
Just think: if the rest of us were to take these fans’ lead, we could improve greatly upon the quality of existing fiction. We could revise plays and edit graphic novels, correcting the mistakes of authors and replacing them with fan-approved alternatives. Artistic vision and authorial intent be damned; creators owe us what we want, in exactly the form that we want. I’ve been burned too many times by story decisions that I didn’t agree with. I’m tired of sitting back and letting authors do whatever they please with their work. It’s time that I spoke up and demanded what is owed to me. So, creators: listen up! I’m following the lead of the Mass Effect fans. I’m petitioning for change.
Hey, Bryan Fuller, listen up! I was a huge fan of Pushing Daisies until the series finale, which retroactively invalidated every single bit of joy that I ever felt while watching your show. Seriously, how could you just not explain what happened to Ned’s dad? And if it was so easy for Ned to show Chuck to her aunts, why didn’t you make it happen fifteen episodes earlier? This was just a sloppy, poorly-conceived ending that put a sour taste in my mouth. The fans deserved better than this. They’re the ones who supported your show, after all. And this was how you chose to thank them? I’m outraged. By the hairs of my neckbeard, I swear I’ll never watch another show you create. You know how you could make it up to me? Re-film the season finale with a better ending. It shouldn’t be hard to get Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Kristin Chenoweth, and Field Cate back together to shoot the thing. (Plus, I’m sure it wouldn’t cost too much to make Field look as young as he did back in 2009 through the use of movie magic.) Forget about contract issues or finding a crew or gathering the funds for such an undertaking. You owe your fans a proper ending to the series. This is the least you could do. A signed apology letter wouldn’t hurt either.
Hey, J.K. Rowling, listen up! Your Harry Potter series was truly magical, pun intended. But can we talk about the fifth book for a second? Order of the Phoenix was lame. I mean, Harry was so damn whiny and emo for the whole book. I was promised a fantasy novel, not a pile of teen angst! You owed your fans better than this. You should have predicted that no one wanted read about how deeply Harry was emotionally affected by Cedric’s death. Instead, you failed miserably, insulting all your loyal readers in the process. Here’s how you can fix it: rewrite the book with a less emo Harry. Edit out all the parts where he snaps at Ron or Hermione. Take out the icky Cho Chang romance. Just replace all of that garbage with scenes of Harry playing wizard chess, or more Fred and George. Everybody loves Fred and George. It might be a huge undertaking to filter out all the teen angst from 800+ pages, but I’m sure you have the time and money. You’re a multimillionaire, after all. Writing a better Order of the Phoenix is the least you could do.
Hey, Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton, listen up! As a wee lad, I was enthralled by the experience of watching The Lion King. However, the film was marred by one sore spot, which enrages me to this day: how could you kill off Mufasa??? He was by far the best character in the movie! And furthermore, you should never have killed off a character played by James Earl freakin’ Jones! What you did was unacceptable, and a slap in the face to anyone who had ever watched a Disney movie. It was even worse because it was one of my earliest exposures to death in a movie. Young boys should not have to face such brutality in film; this was supposed to be a family-friendly flick, for God’s sake! Mufasa’s death scarred me for life. It shook me to my very core, and it affects me to this day. I’m pretty sure that it was the cause of my low self-esteem, which is why girls won’t go out with me and I spend all day growing my neckbeard and bitching about stupid crap on the Internet. Irene, Jonathan, and Linda, you owe me a version of The Lion King where Mufasa doesn’t get trampled to death. Only then will I be able to move on and heal my emotional scars. After all, you ruined my life; it’s the least you could do.
And, as far as I’m concerned, the least that Bioware could do is to cave in to fan demand and change the endings of Mass Effect 3 or release additional endings as free DLC. After all, 20 000 fans out of a set of 3 million can’t be wrong. Authors needs to understand that fans own their work just as much as they do. Creative crowdsourcing is the wave of the future, and I’m riding it by petitioning to change the mistakes that I’ve seen in works of fiction. Making those changes might be difficult or even infeasible, but that’s not my problem. I’m only asking for what I’m owed.