Mass Effect 3 backlash: why gamers should be ashamed

ME3 Metacritic

So, Mass Effect 3 has been in shops for mere hours now (if you live in the US, anyway) and that’s been more than enough time for a small but very loud portion of the gaming community to launch a backlash against it – just check out the metacritic user score of (currently) 3.2. Making a stand is great when there’s something worth standing against – and the internet’s fearsomely good at letting a voice reach the masses – but the reasons behind the ME3 fan backlash shame us all. If you want games to be taken seriously and seen as mature then an equally vocal stand should be made against what’s happening with Mass Effect 3.

The first domino in the line raises some valid concerns about the nature of day one DLC. The content in question, “From Ashes,” is a pack which gives you a new squad member and a new mission. Since it’s available right now, is it possible that the content was originally to be included in the game? Maybe? Should gamers be angry about it? Again, maybe.

Boycotting a game on these grounds is a gamer’s prerogative. If they’re being offered a product that they feel represents poor value or falls victim to a cynical marketing strategy, they should absolutely speak up about it. But if that was the original message behind Mass Effect 3′s fan backlash, it’s been diluted somewhat in its execution:

There are distinct themes to the low-scoring reviews. They make bold statements about the game as a whole, from the characters to the narrative and ending. This is a 30+ hour game that was released around three hours ago. I don’t want to suggest that BUFFHARDABS might not have played the full thirty hours yet, but it does seem unlikely (impossible). And others are straight up incorrect: “nothing you do/did in the previous games actually matters.”

They nearly all, however, feature a frequent homophobic tone. The comments come after CVG posted video footage of the possible gay relationship options in Mass Effect 3. The scene of a male Shepard engaging in a relationship with another male crew member drew fiercely negative attention, comments and thousands of ‘dislikes’.

In comparison similar scenes showing ME2′s previous lesbian scenes received a much more favorable reception and plenty of ‘likes’.  The resulting anti-gay comments surround CVG’s ME3 video prompted John Houlihan, Editor in Chief of CVG to reply:

“The fact that Mass Effect 3 features a male homosexual relationship should not even be an issue any more. I find it shocking that some gamers still hold these outdated views, but thankfully the vast majority of people who play Mass Effect 3 will take a balanced, sensible and fair view of what is likely to be one of the best games of the year.”

It appears that the motivation for many of the poor Metacritic ratings seems to come from that same, outdated sentiment. And that’s shameful. To the individuals who left the comments, and to us for not answering back.

This small and vocal minority is shaming us all as gamers, and dragging is back culturally to the dark ages. The gay scenes might be clunkily presented – personally I find the straight sex scenes clunky too – but we should celebrate the option is there as a sign our medium is evolving.