Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Controversy, Good Writing and You

In Video Games on February 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Bioware definitely gives a damn about its quality of writing.  Which is to say they actually place a high value on characterization, pacing, plot and emotional investment; these are difficult things to care about, especially when a facile injection of populist controversy offers an expedited path to acknowledgement and headlines.

When aspiring to produce something of worth, artists — writers, painters, scultpors, et al. — have the option of attempting to create that which stands on the shoulders of its predecessors, both acknowledging their presence and impact while using their skill and knowledge to produce something newer, better or more well-interpretted.  Such deft manufacting would be more likely to acquire critical, rather than popular attention with the general public not noticing whether it is based of a Cubist interpretation or post-post-modernism.  Alternatively, they may just advertise that there is alot of story to go through, with “deep” characters and see how far they get that way.

A much, much easier way to garner attention, both unwanted and no, is to provide controversy.  It’s much more difficult to become the new Picasso than it is to simply present, in detail, Jesus shitting on the Pope.  People care about big famous figures doing big famous things, especially when told what is and isn’t acceptable by their moral guardians.  Campaigns are crusaded and debates handled for freedom of speech and art and against such debased imagery, but everyone ends up knowing and talking about it.

Bioware has been there with more or less intention depending upon the source.  Most famously — and you should know this already — with the sex scenes, especially the lesbian sex scenes, in Mass Effect.  Not only did this game present an unacceptable amount of PG-13 nudity, but it did so using a medium frequented by children, deviously presented in an M-rated package.  Pundits and anti-intellectuals would rail against this game that allows you to seduce and rape multiple women and otherwise simulated a completely deviant homosexual relationship.

Sad to say, I’m certain this helped sales more than Bioware would like to admit.  But, given that they aren’t crafting titilation, that they are instead focused on producing an epic space-opera spanning hundreds of gameplay hours, they probably felt this attention undermined their efforts.  Thus far the series should be noted for its complex moral choices and drastic, far-reaching consequences of player actions and behavior, among other things.  As such, it seems they’ve toned down the “obscenity” of their romance options both in Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2, while not diminishing the characters involved or respect to alternative lifestyles.  Just less skin.

Which goes to show that Bioware does place more emphasis on crafting art than titilation and smut.  They do give a damn about writing.