Taking The Shepard's Path

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When I saw the article's title pop up in reader, my first thought was that it would be a discussion about the interpretation of religion, perhaps (and here's where I put the idea up on a pedestal) looking into the actual gritty experience of the event vs. the deification of future generations as the facts are quickly lost to history. The reality of a mans moment to do something to help someone else becomes a grand story of holy sacrifice and a manual for how everyone should live.

It turns out I was tricked into reading about jesus.

My intent, really, is not to flame, troll, insult, etc. but I am more than a little disappointed. Religion is a funny thing, say it out loud and some will rally behind you while others tell you to leave.

I'll leave this at two points. 1. The article was well written, and it is always more enjoyable to read something the author puts themselves into and 2. I'm surprised to see a religious themed article on the escapist.

The Human Torch:

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.

I agree. Especially with people "reading too much into it". When one has have to justify such a bizarre ending by using elements from outside the narrative, I'd say its your brain to rationalize the fact that an otherwise brilliant saga had such a shoddy finale.

Out of curiosity I wonder what it takes to write an article on Escapist?

Bluerage:
When I saw the article's title pop up in reader, my first thought was that it would be a discussion about the interpretation of religion, perhaps (and here's where I put the idea up on a pedestal) looking into the actual gritty experience of the event vs. the deification of future generations as the facts are quickly lost to history. The reality of a mans moment to do something to help someone else becomes a grand story of holy sacrifice and a manual for how everyone should live.

It turns out I was tricked into reading about jesus.

My intent, really, is not to flame, troll, insult, etc. but I am more than a little disappointed. Religion is a funny thing, say it out loud and some will rally behind you while others tell you to leave.

I'll leave this at two points. 1. The article was well written, and it is always more enjoyable to read something the author puts themselves into and 2. I'm surprised to see a religious themed article on the escapist.

Bear in mind some major videogames are quite happy to throw in pseudo-religious iconography, For what reason I do not know.

Its only a matter of time before someone writes an article concerning religious themes and gaming.

Nice reading - interesting perspective.

However, I don't see victory int eh Mass Effect ending, regardless of flavor ending. With fasting/meditating/ whatever reflections and restorations people do, the goal a person sets up for themselves can change as the journey progresses. In ME3, the one thing I can appreciate about the ending with regards to a contemplative experience such as lent, is that final moment where Shepard and Anderson just sit together and think about the journey. The ME3 ending feels a whole hell of a lot more futile, however, than real life, to be honest.

survivor686:

The Human Torch:

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.

I agree. Especially with people "reading too much into it". When one has have to justify such a bizarre ending by using elements from outside the narrative, I'd say its your brain to rationalize the fact that an otherwise brilliant saga had such a shoddy finale.

Out of curiosity I wonder what it takes to write an article on Escapist?

The human brain is hardwired to make links between events and if there aren't any obvious links? Then we come up with them! See conspiracy theories.

I am not sure what the criteria of the Escapist are, as far as articles, how's about we write an article explaining how there is absolutely no explanation behind the ME3 ending, other than shoddy writing. See if we can score with such a humdrum, non-religious explanation. :D

The Human Torch:

The human brain is hardwired to make links between events and if there aren't any obvious links? Then we come up with them! See conspiracy theories.

I am not sure what the criteria of the Escapist are, as far as articles, how's about we write an article explaining how there is absolutely no explanation behind the ME3 ending, other than shoddy writing. See if we can score with such a humdrum, non-religious explanation. :D

Hey, don't you dare to reduce the importance of my conspiracy theories! :p

This article wasn't about explaining the ending, but whoever decide to undertake such a task, will need barely 30 seconds: shoehorned final hard choice, with nothing to do with the rest of the series, trying to give some "depth" to the plot, comes back to bite the asses of the authors. It feels so out of place that one might even start to believe the "indoctrination theory" (not really, but it ties well with the conspiracies! ;p).

survivor686:
Bear in mind some major videogames are quite happy to throw in pseudo-religious iconography, For what reason I do not know.

Pseudo-religious themes pervade every type of entertainment, from music to film. Why shouldn't video game fiction be any different? Rather, true science fiction embraces elements of heavy philosophy and spirituality, because analyzing what makes humanity human must necessarily include existential philosophy examining how and why we exist and function. It's part of how human beings determine their identity. Many of the "Golden Age of Science Fiction" writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert, and Heinlein all included these themes in their writings. And so I am confused as to why so many people hate the spiritual themes in Mass Effect 3's ending. I found it very loyal to the type of science fiction we got from the builders of the genre. Granted, there wasn't a lot of closure after making the ultimate choice, which is why the ending is bothersome to me. But the spiritual themes don't bother me at all.

mdqp:

The Human Torch:

The human brain is hardwired to make links between events and if there aren't any obvious links? Then we come up with them! See conspiracy theories.

I am not sure what the criteria of the Escapist are, as far as articles, how's about we write an article explaining how there is absolutely no explanation behind the ME3 ending, other than shoddy writing. See if we can score with such a humdrum, non-religious explanation. :D

Hey, don't you dare to reduce the importance of my conspiracy theories! :p

This article wasn't about explaining the ending, but whoever decide to undertake such a task, will need barely 30 seconds: shoehorned final hard choice, with nothing to do with the rest of the series, trying to give some "depth" to the plot, comes back to bite the asses of the authors. It feels so out of place that one might even start to believe the "indoctrination theory" (not really, but it ties well with the conspiracies! ;p).

Personally I think that the ME3 ending is not a conspiracy theory, but simply tripe. Written by people who had no business even picking up a pen, or touching a keyboard. :D

I just wish that this new article wasn't so religion heavy. It's all so medieval and nonsensical. The author may very well be a very intelligent, kind and decent person, but my opinion of him has been completely undermined by his association with Lent.

I will not read more of this author, for I don't want to waste my time with such 14th century nonsense.

So, what about dem ME3 DLC? Considering that it is supposed to clear up the story, and solve the plotholes, it better be a one hour long cinematic. :)

The Human Torch:

Personally I think that the ME3 ending is not a conspiracy theory, but simply tripe. Written by people who had no business even picking up a pen, or touching a keyboard. :D

I just wish that this new article wasn't so religion heavy. It's all so medieval and nonsensical. The author may very well be a very intelligent, kind and decent person, but my opinion of him has been completely undermined by his association with Lent.

I will not read more of this author, for I don't want to waste my time with such 14th century nonsense.

So, what about dem ME3 DLC? Considering that it is supposed to clear up the story, and solve the plotholes, it better be a one hour long cinematic. :)

I don't think it's a conspiracy theory either, I was just defending CT in general. They are so damn fun, it would be a loss for everyone if we started poking holes in them, they might even disappear! They breed quickly, but we are killing them at an alarming rate, protect the CTs! :D

I am an atheist, so I probably share part of your doubts over faith and other similar things (though not to the point of not reading what he has to write over that: Dostoevskij was religious too, and it showed in his books, but he is still one of my favourite authors, just to throw a big name out there).

But the problem here is that the way he drew a parallel with his religious experience and the game, felt like dozens of other games could have been a replacement of ME3. It kind of make the parallel lose part of its meaning. And that's what throws me off for not being particularly sound logic. Depending on what he'll write afterward, I might decide to avoid him entirely or not.

mdqp:

The Human Torch:

Personally I think that the ME3 ending is not a conspiracy theory, but simply tripe. Written by people who had no business even picking up a pen, or touching a keyboard. :D

I just wish that this new article wasn't so religion heavy. It's all so medieval and nonsensical. The author may very well be a very intelligent, kind and decent person, but my opinion of him has been completely undermined by his association with Lent.

I will not read more of this author, for I don't want to waste my time with such 14th century nonsense.

So, what about dem ME3 DLC? Considering that it is supposed to clear up the story, and solve the plotholes, it better be a one hour long cinematic. :)

I don't think it's a conspiracy theory either, I was just defending CT in general. They are so damn fun, it would be a loss for everyone if we started poking holes in them, they might even disappear! They breed quickly, but we are killing them at an alarming rate, protect the CTs! :D

I am an atheist, so I probably share part of your doubts over faith and other similar things (though not to the point of not reading what he has to write over that: Dostoevskij was religious too, and it showed in his books, but he is still one of my favourite authors, just to throw a big name out there).

But the problem here is that the way he drew a parallel with his religious experience and the game, felt like dozens of other games could have been a replacement of ME3. It kind of make the parallel lose part of its meaning. And that's what throws me off for not being particularly sound logic. Depending on what he'll write afterward, I might decide to avoid him entirely or not.

I don't mind reading books from authors with a religious background. I am sure that some of my favorite writers are religious people, but they don't write about it as done with this particular article.
For this person religion is very important, it's evident. Even by just participating in Lent makes it very obvious.

Did you ever read Jim Butcher's books btw? Also has a few religious influences, but is very fun to read.

The Human Torch:

I don't mind reading books from authors with a religious background. I am sure that some of my favorite writers are religious people, but they don't write about it as done with this particular article.
For this person religion is very important, it's evident. Even by just participating in Lent makes it very obvious.

Did you ever read Jim Butcher's books btw? Also has a few religious influences, but is very fun to read.

That's why I picked Dostoevskij as an example: in his books the theme is there, and it's evident more often than not, but he was a really good writer, that's why his books are simply wonderful.

I agree that religion has to be central in the author's life, considering the whole Lent thing and the fact that he draws such a parallel right away. This of course doesn't mean that he will necessarily write of this every time, he might even never mention anything related to his faith anymore, giving him a second chance before completely avoiding whatever he writes isn't a big deal, I can do that easily.

I can't say I read anything from Jim Butcher before, maybe I'll look it up and tell you what I think of it. ;)

ShinobiJedi42:

survivor686:
Bear in mind some major videogames are quite happy to throw in pseudo-religious iconography, For what reason I do not know.

Pseudo-religious themes pervade every type of entertainment, from music to film. Why shouldn't video game fiction be any different? Rather, true science fiction embraces elements of heavy philosophy and spirituality, because analyzing what makes humanity human must necessarily include existential philosophy examining how and why we exist and function. It's part of how human beings determine their identity. Many of the "Golden Age of Science Fiction" writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert, and Heinlein all included these themes in their writings. And so I am confused as to why so many people hate the spiritual themes in Mass Effect 3's ending. I found it very loyal to the type of science fiction we got from the builders of the genre. Granted, there wasn't a lot of closure after making the ultimate choice, which is why the ending is bothersome to me. But the spiritual themes don't bother me at all.

I understand your points and agree with some of them.

But by using religious iconography, doesn't the author run the risk of alienating or confusing readers whom don't understand its significance or are actively hostile towards it?

survivor686:

But by using religious iconography, doesn't the author run the risk of alienating or confusing readers whom don't understand its significance or are actively hostile towards it?

Thus is the nature of art :)

(Note: I wrote this comment late last night, and after a host of bizarre connectivity issues couldn't post it till now. Of course, it's entirely possible that the direction of the conversation has changed, but I wanted to post it anyway since it was ready to go. So anyway...)

Hellooooo Escapist!

First, a MASSIVE thanks to Susan Arendt for commissioning this and letting me write it as I wished.

Second, I want to thank everyone who commented and welcomed me here at The Escapist. I'm honored by the attention and by the willingness I see to approach my article for what it is: a- mostly harmless -musing on the similarities I saw between Lent and my first playthrough of ME3. I'm not the commenting sort, but since I wrote this, and since I see more than a few germs for a discussion, I think it's my responsibility to respond in kind and address a few of the recurring questions that I've seen pop up in this thread. Following that, I'm up for continuing this discussion at everyone and anyone's leisure. Cheers!

-As regards the ending: I liked the ending to ME3, plain and simple. I have more reasons for that than those that appear in the article, but I'm not interested in talking about whether or not it was good. That's not relevant anymore. Agree to disagree, I'm sure.

-As regards playing Renegade Shepard: Part of my affection for Mass Effect is that I can indulge in choices and alignments that I wouldn't often consider. What I like about playing as a Renegade is that I'm challenged to act on other points of view while weighing their benefits/outcomes/consequences. It leads to a lot of uncomfortable moments (like the end of Project Overlord in ME2), but I like seeing all the writing and changes that come about by pursuing Renegade options (which is why I consider something like Mordin's death to be devastating and also an impressive bit of storytelling- BioWare didn't screw around). The story that gets told as a result of acting like a total bastard often feels riskier and more surprising to me, and beyond that, I just like seeing what it's like to get in the head of someone I don't agree with- which becomes more interesting when I'm the one pulling the strings. As a Christian, there's no moral imperative to abstain from stories that traffic in immoral characters and actions; if there was, the Bible wouldn't be nearly as long (but as you may have noticed, letting off the gas in this respect is considered beneficial during Lent, vis, the point of the article).

-As regards the spirit of the article: This piece is NOT a definitive take on Mass Effect 3. It's an explanation of what was impressed on me most the first time I played it. Yes, it is informed exclusively by my faith, and by the time and place in which I played it, combined with what was on my mind at the time, but I don't consider the parallels I saw in the game to be intentionally authored by BioWare, or applicable to most anyone else's experiences. I regard this only as an examination of the way the game spoke to me, and even then, only in this instance.

-I bring this up because I've noticed several comments that seem resistant to the idea that my experience could even take place in the game, or that I'm stretching with these analogies, or that this is all a Trojan tactic to get religion into a game discussion. As far as that is concerned, this piece is a matter of perspective. I won't blame anyone who didn't notice the same things I did, or even anyone who disagrees with my reaction- it's just an exploration of the way the game reached out to me particularly, and I don't doubt that it's done so in a lot of different ways, for a lot of different players. To that end, if you don't like this because it involves Christianity, or a Renegade Shepard, or character mistakes that you can't believe I made, COOL. I don't have a problem with that, I just want to make it clear that my only objective here is to discuss my experience with Mass Effect.

Again, heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to read it, even the jag who assumes Christianity makes me a homophobe- you might be pathetically myopic and embarrassingly mistaken, but I guess you're not that bad ;)

Adam Condra:
(Note: I wrote this comment late last night, and after a host of bizarre connectivity issues couldn't post it till now. Of course, it's entirely possible that the direction of the conversation has changed, but I wanted to post it anyway since it was ready to go. So anyway...)

Hellooooo Escapist!

First, a MASSIVE thanks to Susan Arendt for commissioning this and letting me write it as I wished.

Second, I want to thank everyone who commented and welcomed me here at The Escapist. I'm honored by the attention and by the willingness I see to approach my article for what it is: a- mostly harmless -musing on the similarities I saw between Lent and my first playthrough of ME3. I'm not the commenting sort, but since I wrote this, and since I see more than a few germs for a discussion, I think it's my responsibility to respond in kind and address a few of the recurring questions that I've seen pop up in this thread. Following that, I'm up for continuing this discussion at everyone and anyone's leisure. Cheers!

-As regards the ending: I liked the ending to ME3, plain and simple. I have more reasons for that than those that appear in the article, but I'm not interested in talking about whether or not it was good. That's not relevant anymore. Agree to disagree, I'm sure.

-As regards playing Renegade Shepard: Part of my affection for Mass Effect is that I can indulge in choices and alignments that I wouldn't often consider. What I like about playing as a Renegade is that I'm challenged to act on other points of view while weighing their benefits/outcomes/consequences. It leads to a lot of uncomfortable moments (like the end of Project Overlord in ME2), but I like seeing all the writing and changes that come about by pursuing Renegade options (which is why I consider something like Mordin's death to be devastating and also an impressive bit of storytelling- BioWare didn't screw around). The story that gets told as a result of acting like a total bastard often feels riskier and more surprising to me, and beyond that, I just like seeing what it's like to get in the head of someone I don't agree with- which becomes more interesting when I'm the one pulling the strings. As a Christian, there's no moral imperative to abstain from stories that traffic in immoral characters and actions; if there was, the Bible wouldn't be nearly as long (but as you may have noticed, letting off the gas in this respect is considered beneficial during Lent, vis, the point of the article).

-As regards the spirit of the article: This piece is NOT a definitive take on Mass Effect 3. It's an explanation of what was impressed on me most the first time I played it. Yes, it is informed exclusively by my faith, and by the time and place in which I played it, combined with what was on my mind at the time, but I don't consider the parallels I saw in the game to be intentionally authored by BioWare, or applicable to most anyone else's experiences. I regard this only as an examination of the way the game spoke to me, and even then, only in this instance.

-I bring this up because I've noticed several comments that seem resistant to the idea that my experience could even take place in the game, or that I'm stretching with these analogies, or that this is all a Trojan tactic to get religion into a game discussion. As far as that is concerned, this piece is a matter of perspective. I won't blame anyone who didn't notice the same things I did, or even anyone who disagrees with my reaction- it's just an exploration of the way the game reached out to me particularly, and I don't doubt that it's done so in a lot of different ways, for a lot of different players. To that end, if you don't like this because it involves Christianity, or a Renegade Shepard, or character mistakes that you can't believe I made, COOL. I don't have a problem with that, I just want to make it clear that my only objective here is to discuss my experience with Mass Effect.

Again, heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to read it, even the jag who assumes Christianity makes me a homophobe- you might be pathetically myopic and embarrassingly mistaken, but I guess you're not that bad ;)

Well, I felt the need to point out that I felt it was odd to make such a comparison, because several games would fit (actually, I am sure that also several religions have this or that practice/philosophy that could work in such a comparison), and I felt that the parallel you made didn't come out as meaningful as a result. I am guessing here that the timeline here played an important role, as the Lent and the playthrough of ME3 were overlapping or very close (I can't seem to recall if you specified this in the article or not) for you.

As someone said before, religious themes ooze out of every form of media, though ME2 and ME3 felt particularly charged in those, at least from what I saw, but those weren't exactly the things you pointed out, instead you talked about the more general mechanics and/or nature of the game, making this parallel feel a little arbitrary (again, my opinion).

Of course you can have this experience and notice this similarities, but I wonder if you really took a hard look at the gaming experience in general (overcoming obstacles is part of 99% of the existing videogames, just name one thing, and choices and consequences are an RPG staple from a long time).

I didn't notice someone saying you are homophobe (must have missed that post), but most religions look down on homosexuality, demonize it even, and declaring your faith usually means that you embrace its ideals, which means you would find homosexuality a sin, to say the least (if you don't, then you should consider that you aren't really a member of said Church, as you are against its ideals. You might believe in Christ and God, but that doesn't make you a christian. That's a label reserved for being a member of said religion). What matter is the official position of a religion. As they profess to have absolute truths, rejecting even one of their ideals make it look like you are doublethinking to avoid the contradiction. If your religion is okay with homosexuality, then you are right, that was uncalled for, otherwise, it was actually something (it shouldn't have been pointed out in the first place, as that really doesn't relate in any way to the article, but since you decided to answer it...).

If we are going to make a distinction between your personal faith, and what the ecclesiastic organization and structure believe, then it all becomes silly. If you were to say such a thing to highest authority of your Church, disagreeing with him, I am fairly sure you would get expelled for that, I think. You can't really have it both way.

So are you saying that the argument didn't feel as meaningful because it's religious lens was too narrow? I just want to make sure I have you right there.

Secondly, while it's true that overcoming obstacles is a huge part of playing games, aren't the circumstances of those obstacles what allows for personal examination such as this? Again, let me know if I did or didn't understand you correctly.

Your last two paragraphs are frankly confounding in a multitude of ways. Suffice it to say, I'm neither troubled by homosexual characters, nor in danger of excommunication.

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