Lessons from fashion's free culture
Warning: The video review below is going to send certain people into a toxic rage. I can tell ahead of time. This is exactly the sort of nitpicking that drove people up a wall in my own Mass Effect 2 review, and the comment thread on that one was arguably more combative than some of the rare political / philosophical discussions that have broken out here.
I disagree with a lot of the points made and I like a lot of the aspects of the game he criticized, but I really enjoy watching deconstructions like this anyway. I find it interesting to see where the game connected and where it missed. Note how some flaws in the game appear again and again in various reviews, while others seem to only show up rarely or are unique to the reviewer.
People said I was “looking for things to complain about” with regard to Mass Effect 2, and I’m sure they’ll say the same about Smudboy, but I think what really causes this is Plot Collapse:
We all have different levels of attention and tolerance for flaws in a narrative. Some people skim the plot, or play in fits and starts, or simply don’t delve too much into the structure of the world. Some people are just having so much fun they’re willing to forgive and forget when narrative anomalies appear. But once you do notice a problem, the part of your brain that enjoys revelations and learning is going to be irritated by it. Once you start noticing plot holes, you end up thinking about them and trying to iron them out in your head, which only draws more scrutiny and exacerbates the problem. When a story is flowing smoothly for you, then you let unknowns pass and assume they’ll be explained later. But as you lose confidence in the story you end up just adding those unknowns to the list of stuff that’s getting on your nerves and ruining immersion.
A lot of the points people – myself included – made about Mass Effect 2 are minor annoyances that would normally get overlooked if they were isolated. The original Mass Effect had holes that I didn’t notice until after the game was over, and some I didn’t even notice until someone pointed them out months later. But this is because the overall story was sound enough to get me through.
As plot aberrations accumulate, you’ll eventually hit some sort of point of no return, and the whole thing will fly apart so that you end up going on a long tirade about it. (To friends, in a forum, on a blog, in a video, etc.) I think this is a kind of catharsis. We generally want stories to make sense, and if we can’t make the story coherent then at least we can can gather up all the problems and catalog them in an orderly fashion, dangit!
Since that breaking point varies on an individual basis, you end up with some people accepting the plot and others rejecting it. Add in the fact that some fans blow a fuse when they see people disliking their beloved, along with the anonymity of the internet, and you have a great recipe for people getting all pissed off and irritated at each other.
Do try to keep a cool head about this.
(I still have about 2,000 words I want to write about the best part of the game. (Mordin, and everything about his recruitment, loyalty mission, dialog, and outlook.) But it keeps getting bumped off by other projects. I need to do it soon before I lose track of it. My mind isn’t what it used to be. (Operational.))
Lessons from fashion's free culture
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