The game that I chose to be immersed in for the past two weeks was Mass Effect Andromeda, developed by Bioware and published by EA Games. Mass Effect Andromeda is an action RPG that takes place in the Andromeda galaxy. It features all new game mechanics that force the player to think on the fly and not sit behind cover trading pot-shots with enemies. Mass Effect Andromeda is the start of a new trilogy as Bioware felt that Mass Effect 1-3 was a complete story that was wrapped up with the release of Mass Effect 3. The atmosphere of Mass Effect Andromeda is noticeably more laid-back than Mass Effect 1-3, that might be due to the fact that the primary antagonists are not as scary as the Reapers. The protagonist in MEA is also very different from the primary protagonist in Mass Effect 1-3. Ryder is more of a blank slate than Shepard as events prior to the game led them down different career paths.
Art can be defined in many ways. The popular definition that is given by Merriam-Webster is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” My personal definition of art is that something is created or performed that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Mass Effect Andromeda is an aesthetically pleasing game, outside of facial features that have been almost fixed by patches. The planets and locations that the player visits during the course of the playthrough all have a different feeling. One planet called Havarl, is a dense jungle planet that is teeming with wildlife, while another planet called Voeld, is covered in ice and is sparsely populated due to the icy climate.
These definitions of art match with the definitions of art that we discussed in class as they are almost the same definitions just more slightly modified. Art is an ideal that everyone tries to copy and sometimes make their own but it harder to considered original as most of the styles that people use is copied from famous artists.
The Merriam-Webster definition of Game is considered to be an “activity engaged in for diversion or amusement”. Most games are used as a diversion from reality and allow players to be whisked away to fantastical worlds and take any role that the player wishes to fulfill. Games can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye and generally require crazy loads of creativity to draw people to buy the product that companies that are spending lots of money to make these games. Games can be transmitted through a variety of media such as artwork that people who are fans of the series make and share with others through social media, people write “fanfictions” which allow the author to take an established universe such as the Mass Effect universe and create new tales that extend on ideas that are present in the game, and people create videos guides to help players figure out the most optimal builds so they could get the most out of their characters.
Games differ from art as there is a greater level of interaction between a person and a game. A person is inputting commands and the game is reacting to the commands while looking at art, no commands can be inputted or reacted to as it is a one-way interaction. Games can be updated and changed, while art pieces for the majority of their lifespan mostly remain the same.
Jesper Juul talks about rules that a game has to pass in order to considered a game. Juul states that “A game is a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels emotionally attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are negotiable”.
A rule based system: Mechanics such as a constantly draining Life Support system makes the player have to run to safe areas to replenish the Life Support bar for them to continue to explore the area that they are currently located in. As there is combat present, the use of cover drastically improves the player’s chance of survival.
Variable outcomes: The player is allowed to choose what sex the protagonist is, this decision affects what romances the player can pursue. At certain parts of the story, the player has to make a branching storyline choice which can affect the end of the game
Valorization of Outcomes: The player can choose to barrel through the story missions and not take part in any of the side missions that unlock through story progression.
Player Effort: There is no instant mastery to this game. Being a series veteran, the game still took me off guard at points and made me replay sections of the game as I had messed up and died.
Player attachment to Outcome: As the game progressed, I became very attached to the character that I was playing and the squad mates that accompanied with me on missions.
Negotiable consequences: Some Characters can leave the squad if they don’t agree with your decisions. And NPCs can die if certain decisions are made.
Mass Effect Andromeda manages to meet Jesper Juul’s requirements to be considered a game. Therefore, I can claim that Mass Effect Andromeda as a game.
Jesper Juul – Video Games and the Classic Game Model page 36