Taking The Shepard's Path

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Taking The Shepard's Path

Finding spirituality in Mass Effect 3.

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What is this I don't even...?

Is this about you seeing analogies between ME3 and a particular facet of a religion? Granted, once they had Shepard die and then resurrect, there was hardly anything that could more bluntly put forward a religious parallel, but you are reading into this way too much, since what you say for ME3 could be said for many, MANY other games out there.

Also, I might bw a weirdo, but the fact that you felt "grateful" after finishing a game creeps me out a little.

Interesting view. I guess you'll find mostly what you bring yourself in this game...

Welcome to the Escapist, by the way!

This is a very strange article. On the one hand, my Christian faith led me to really enjoying the theological parallels in playing a video game. I can see how the satisfaction of completing such an emotionally taxing story could be similar to a spiritual experience, but in the end, I would say that nothing earthly could possibly compare to a true spiritual experience such as the end of Lent. The two experiences are made up of completely different sources of emotion and so I don't see how the two can be compared the way you are suggested. Maybe I just didn't understand fully or something lol.

On the other hand, I can't forgive you for killing Mordin and letting Tali die. Seriously dude, I played a straight Renegade game as well, and the only two Paragon choices I made in all three games was keeping the data and not killing Mordin. And how hard is it to keep Tali alive? I have played through ME3 three times with three separate Shepards making different choices and never once failed to unite the Geth and Quarians. But I know many people who failed to bring peace between them. I don't understand how it's easy for some, but difficult for others. Bah, my nerdrage is overwhelming me!

Also, *Obligatory, generic comment about the suckiness of the ending and something something about red, blue, and green.*

An excellent article. The similarities are very striking. Personally, I do not practice lent but I do fast on occasion so I understood the references.

Thank you for this article.

Wait, you wiped out the Quarian fleet to show the Geths mercy, but killed them all just a few hours later when you were done using them?

mdqp:
What is this I don't even...?

Is this about you seeing analogies between ME3 and a particular facet of a religion? Granted, once they had Shepard die and then resurrect, there was hardly anything that could more bluntly put forward a religious parallel, but you are reading into this way too much, since what you say for ME3 could be said for many, MANY other games out there.

Well, the author isn't saying that Mass Effect 3's story is factually about Lent or religion or whatever else you want to say. He just took that experience and said "Hey, this is a lot like what I'm doing right now." It's his own interpretation, so he can read into it all he likes.

This is actually a different point of view I had not heard before. Very interesting. I can definitely see the similarities.

Still...I can't believe anyone chooses to be full Renegade in ME3. Shepard isn't a badass anymore, he/she is just a jerk.

Wha? Why would such a religious person do a full renegade? I'm an atheist and I can't bring myself to do it. Even at the expense of friends and their races, you would just blindly follow whatever text was in red- oh...

Tell me this is a parody.

You Killed the Quarians? Why would you do that. Besides the Geth will be rebuilt, Admiral Xen seems to like the idea of controlling them a little too much to let them be wiped out. But I enjoyed the religious parallels in ME2 and 3(More so 2)

I Have No Idea:

Well, the author isn't saying that Mass Effect 3's story is factually about Lent or religion or whatever else you want to say. He just took that experience and said "Hey, this is a lot like what I'm doing right now." It's his own interpretation, so he can read into it all he likes.

It still remains that the things he picks from the game to make a parallel, aren't that peculiar to begin with. It strikes me as odd, because any game could fit the bill, at least that's what I gather from this:

"If we compare the struggle against the Reapers with the struggle of Lenten perseverance, then we see how Lent runs a similar course. Both efforts require sacrifice; for myself, the comfort of my day-to-day earthly living, and for Shepard, the ability to control every character and attitude he comes across on the path to victory. Although not occupying the same dramatic scales, both Lent and Mass Effect 3's plot leave their participants in similar states of emotional stress, yet both lead to immensely satisfying conclusions. These are, respectively, the 40-day Paschal feast, and the Catalyst's final choice, which is Shepard's opportunity to resolve Reaper conflict in a way that shapes the future of the universe."

P.s. Captcha: agree to disagree... Well, now that's uncanny... Especially since the author found "immensely satisfying" the conclusion of ME3, which would surely lead to that, if I ever discussed about the ending with him.

Seventh Actuality:
Tell me this is a parody.

I would sure hope so.

I'm not religious, however, this article did invoke the same feelings I myself had about my ME experience. For example, I found my normally paragon Shepard doing things that I'd never dreamed of him doing in the previous games, all because I knew that I had to put the galaxy first. All in all, this was a very well-written article about one person's personal experience with the game. It shows that games (and films as well,) can also move a person the way a book can. Bravo.

On a side note, I love how most of these and the facebook comments are jokes about the damn ending. Could we stop talking about it, maybe for just a second? I understand we felt cheated, but the series is much more than the third ending. Maybe instead of just focusing internet rage at it, perhaps we could try stepping back and looking at the series as a whole? Or, and stay with me on this, we could just get over it.

It would be nice if the ending didn't pretty much invalidate the rest of the series, though.

I am reminded of the commentary tracks on the Matrix sequels, the ones where they in one invited a couple of philosophers that loved the films, and the other with a couple of film critics that hated them. Once you listen to them, you realize that the reason why the philosophers love the film is because it talks about stuff they work with, and they are so much in awe about it (OMG, it's speaking OUR language!!!), that they completely ignore how it is otherwise an abysmal mess as a piece of storytelling. I am getting the exact same vibes from this article.

Iklwa:

I understand we felt cheated, but the series is much more than the third ending. Maybe instead of just focusing internet rage at it, perhaps we could try stepping back and looking at the series as a whole?

The problem, you see, this is that the terribleness of ending is proportional to the intimacy of your knowledge of the series.

You first truly understand how utterly broken the storytelling is, once you realize how much the ending clashes against almost every established theme throughout the series.

Well that was interesting read. While I respect his opinion I must heartily disagree with them.

While the writers may have attempted some pseudo-religious imagery (aka: the godchild), the fact remains that its very poorly executed. Its riddled with so many plot holes and clashes with good story-telling logic. There are better post than me which explain the awfulness behind.

However if you want to throw in semi-religious imagery, allow me to offer a better alternative:

Starchild is similar to the "last temptation of Christ". An easy way out to a difficult problem, a temptation of ultimate power and a test of your convictions. Do you Commander Shepard stay true to your promises and morals (ie: Remove the scourge of the Reapers from the Galaxy and free civilization from their manipulations) or do you take the "easy" way out, a band-aid solution to a greater problem (ie: Synthesis) or do you succumb to the lust for power, the ability to rule over your fellow beings (ie: Control). The choice is yours

Frame it that ideology and then I can excuse a semi-religious interpretation of it.

survivor686:

Its riddled with so many plot holes and clashes with good story-telling logic. There are better post than me which explain the awfulness behind.

Why, that sounds almost exactly like how an awful lot of religous texts are written!

Seriously though, you can interpret a huge number of stories like this, from soap opera's to 'heathen' epics like Beowulf or the Aeneid.

(And before people start raging: that first bit was a joke of course, the bible has got some good storytelling, even from a non-religious point of view)

At least someone enjoyed the painfully hamfisted religious allegories that didn't fit the tone in this game?

mdqp:

P.s. Captcha: agree to disagree... Well, now that's uncanny...

No way! 0_o

Pics or it didn't happen.

So if it's an analog for religion, you get a journey where people promise you lots of amazing things that they can't deliver and it all ends with a shit ending.

I came here wondering if this was going to be a Firefly or Mass Effect thread. Turns out, it's an odd combination of both...

More on topic, however, I feel like your analysis is a bit of a stretch for me. I can see where you draw the connections, and I enjoyed picturing your Shepard as an emotional wreck after the betrayal of his father figure (the Illusive Man, as you said), the loss of his favorite squadmates (since I don't think calling them "friends" on a Renegade run quite works), and the emotional and physical trauma he's gone through. But the relation the Lent is a sketchy one at best. I think you're saying your inability to choose exactly what you wanted is related to your humanity and therefore you can't do it without the Lord. To me, that doesn't quite relate to what I played. You can draw parallels, sure, but you're completely ignoring the part where a separate diety-like creature is forcing you to make one of those choices, God be damned. Which also doesn't jive with me, because that seems to me more like you're submitting to this other diety instead of sticking to your guns and staying true to your beliefs.

Talking about sacrifice in relation to a game is fairly normal. In most modern games characters have to sacrifice something in order to move on, or come out victorious. It's typically how storytelling of that sort works. It can be found in any of the Call of Duty games, Gears of War, Skyrim... The list goes on. It's a connection, sure, but from a logical relation it's a connection that can be made with any game. The relation to him being human is, again, a relation that can be made for any number of games.

I do appreciate that the game made you feel that way, and that it helped you in your own spiritual journey through those feelings, but personally I can't connect to it the same way you seem to have and it's causing a bit of a disconnect between what you wrote and what I actually experienced. I think a lot of people here are feeling the same way, which is why you're getting a bit of incredulity at your article. For many of us, especially those of us who aren't particularly religious (or religious at all), we're just plain old not seeing where you're coming from on this one.

I Have No Idea:

mdqp:

P.s. Captcha: agree to disagree... Well, now that's uncanny...

No way! 0_o

Pics or it didn't happen.

image
--------------------

Blachman201:
I am reminded of the commentary tracks on the Matrix sequels, the ones where they in one invited a couple of philosophers that loved the films, and the other with a couple of film critics that hated them. Once you listen to them, you realize that the reason why the philosophers love the film is because it talks about stuff they work with, and they are so much in awe about it (OMG, it's speaking OUR language!!!), that they completely ignore how it is otherwise an abysmal mess as a piece of storytelling. I am getting the exact same vibes from this article.

Iklwa:

I understand we felt cheated, but the series is much more than the third ending. Maybe instead of just focusing internet rage at it, perhaps we could try stepping back and looking at the series as a whole?

The problem, you see, this is that the terribleness of ending is proportional to the intimacy of your knowledge of the series.

You first truly understand how utterly broken the storytelling is, once you realize how much the ending clashes against almost every established theme throughout the series.

this right here. the journey was great but we ended in jersey shore ..

also:

not sure how i feel about such a religion related article on a gaming site

or...you know

you lost because oyu played renegade..and it should have been obvious renegade was going to bite you in the ass later

Mr Ink 5000:
not sure how i feel about such a religion related article on a gaming site

oh come on...its harmless

Firebert:

Seventh Actuality:
Tell me this is a parody.

I would sure hope so.

Well it fucking better...

I can accept that! Some people see Jesus' face in a wooden door, and The Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese! (Penn and Teller: Bullshit. Episode named "Signs from heavens"). Our ancestors were convinced the moon was a goddess with a face on it. We got Zodiac signs from constellations. My religious buddy was convinced his dog knew it has SINNED after it had crapped on the carpet. (to me, it just whined because it was expecting a slap and loud words from its master). A hunted cave in Belgium gave people the curse of boils and death but had miraculously saved a kid from cancer. (It had a rich vein of uranium in it)

So you see a few parallels with the story of ME and a Bronze Age superstition who stole the idea of ascetism right from Jainism? Word of advice: Don't play Dante's Inferno: you might start flagellation. xD

People see what they want to see. It's not necessarily a bad thing: we have a rich history of myths and cool legends all over the globe.

But where I am puzzled is how any litterate, modern-day person play the game, read all the Codex entries about Reaper indoctrination, witness Liara's shock and denial when she realises the the asari religion had very secular and mundane beginnings (if you count the coming of the Protheans on her planet eons ago "mundane"), then see the Hanar meet his "God" in person, and immediately get rebuked.

The not-so-subtle threat of seeing indoctrinated people turn against their own...

... and not see THOSE parallels with any religion, starting with his own?

Why don't we see any thread about that instead?

Predictably stuffed to the brim with convenient justifications for personal dogmatic failure, not to mention some awe-inspiring stretches of correlation.

Pray, do tell (pun intended)...where do the potential homosexual relationships in ME3 fit into this tenuous theological interpretive framework that you have established here?

Many of those who object to this article are missing the point. Adam is not claiming that Mass Effect is an allegory for Christianity. He simply chose to tell us a story about how a game deeply influenced something deeply connected to his personal identity. The connections that we can make to games are what make them worthwhile. The fact that Adam made such a connection does not force me, you or anyone else to make the same one.

Well, there certainly was a lot of Christian symbolism in the game. Personally, while I was playing it, I thought some of it was heavy handed-- seriously, the cruxifixion of Legion scene? And the Overlord bit, with the sacrifice of the innocent? Legion (and later the obviously named Shep) dying for the redemption of others? Etc, etc. Add in the continual Arthur C. Clarke themes of ascension and whatnot, and honestly, the only wonder is that so many people missed it.

Perhaps the writing team was right in that regard-- subtlety isn't exactly embraced by much of the gaming public. But still, I think it would have been better if they hadn't been so obvious.

If we talk about the intended religious imagery in the ME series, there was never anything remotely close to subtle in it (it was in fact handled so badly that I have to wonder what they were thinking of accomplishing, as it felt out of place for me more than once, and frankly, I was almost expecting to see a Call of Juarez thing, with the possibility to equip a bible and read passages from it). If we talk about what the author wrote, then I said I simply find it odd, as there are dozens of games that would fit the bill, considering the parallel he made. I think it's reasonable to find his thoughts a bit weird, if we imagine he is a gamer (otherwise, why would he be writing on the escapist?), as he should have been exposed to enough games by now to realize that such things are common place in videogames, and have been so for quite some time.

I know you writers all want to stand by Mac Walters and his "art" and all, because "bad ending is good ending", artistic integrity and all that other crap serious authors should believe in ... but you're not going to convince us the story was good no matter how hard you try and how many different metaphors you try to pull in.

ME1/2 were a juvenile power fantasy with triumph against all odds, taking a giant dump on the expectations of gamers in part 3 might be art ... but it's not what I put down good money for. To me the ME3 ending sucked, and EA should really fire Mac Walters for destroying the commercial value of a franchise.

Vault101:
or...you know

you lost because oyu played renegade..and it should have been obvious renegade was going to bite you in the ass later

Mr Ink 5000:
not sure how i feel about such a religion related article on a gaming site

oh come on...its harmless

don't know if it's because i'm a deist, but i'm always on the back foot when it comes to religion

survivor686:
Well that was interesting read. While I respect his opinion I must heartily disagree with them.

While the writers may have attempted some pseudo-religious imagery (aka: the godchild), the fact remains that its very poorly executed. Its riddled with so many plot holes and clashes with good story-telling logic. There are better post than me which explain the awfulness behind.

However if you want to throw in semi-religious imagery, allow me to offer a better alternative:

Starchild is similar to the "last temptation of Christ". An easy way out to a difficult problem, a temptation of ultimate power and a test of your convictions. Do you Commander Shepard stay true to your promises and morals (ie: Remove the scourge of the Reapers from the Galaxy and free civilization from their manipulations) or do you take the "easy" way out, a band-aid solution to a greater problem (ie: Synthesis) or do you succumb to the lust for power, the ability to rule over your fellow beings (ie: Control). The choice is yours

Frame it that ideology and then I can excuse a semi-religious interpretation of it.

I agree with your sentiment, and I see where you are coming from. But I do think that you are reading too much into this. Especially as the latest theory is that the whole Mass Effect series was just a dream. I don't know how that would affect the 3 choices in the end. :)

I have a big hatred for religion, so I am putting this article into the "delusions of a man" box and will leave it at that.

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