Exploring New Frontiers

MASS EFFECTIVE

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.

ARTISTRY

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.

Mass-Effect_-Andromeda_Scientists.jpg
Havarl

GAME TIME

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.

BMK5O86
A fan’s artwork of the Female Squadmates

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”.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

MASS EFFECTIVE
ARTISTRY
GAME TIME

Sources

Jesper Juul – Video Games and the Classic Game Model page 36

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Exploring New Frontiers

  1. Great job on your blog you hit every point perfectly. You mention patches and how games can be changed as opposed to art that can not. Does the ability to be patched take away from the originality of the game? Do the patches make it better or worse?

    Like

    • I think that Patches can make the longevity of the game last longer and require the player to find new strategies once their favorites have been changed. Patches can be a mixed bag. They can fix the game in some ways but manage to break the game in other ways. Such the patch 1.05 for Mass Effect Andromeda fixed the facial animations for humans and asaris but modified damage for the guns in multiplayer.

      Like

      • That is true about patches. The most obvious are when multiplayer guns are changed and forces players to change strategy. Whether a gun is buffed or nerfed it forces someone to adapt in order to win.

        Like

  2. I remember playing Mass Effect 2 and 3 thinking it couldn’t get any better. How would you compare this game to the previous ones? I haven’t really looked into it but I’ve seen a lot of hatred for it on places like Reddit. I agree with your analysis of the art in the game and how Juul’s definition of a game can correlate to ME Andromeda being a game.

    Like

    • Mass Effect Andromeda is up there with Mass Effect 1-3. As for ranking the games, I might be a little biased in saying that I like MEA more than Mass Effect 1-3. I feel more connected with the squad in MEA than ME1-3, so it felt more enjoyable to play

      Like

  3. It’s interesting how you say you were able to become immersed in the game, but can it be more difficult to be completely immersed if there’s no clear backstory for the main protagonist? Shepard had a rich and clear background of what they did and accomplished. It seems like Ryder doesn’t have much to go by and it’s unclear where exactly they came from. Do you think that lack of backstory can make it more difficult for a player to really enjoy a game?

    Like

    • I would argue that the Rydar twins have more back story than Shepard ever had. With the whole hidden memory mechanic Bioware must have planned out the entire backstory from the get go with Shepard we are never really given nods to his/her life outside a few very brief interactions with his/her mother if you chose a certain backstory. I mean we are forced to have a sibling no matter what, two parents, etc.

      Like

      • That is true. I was making assumptions based on my knowledge of each game from watching my boyfriend play it. I personally have not actually played Andromeda. But that does make more sense. It makes it easier to understand the info about Ryder (whichever one you play) and I guess that understanding allows the player to infer more information about the character as you play and experience the memories.

        Like

  4. I have always heard of the Mass Effects games but never knew they were developed by EA. You went really deep when it came to defending the game as art and Juul’s criteria complimented your blog very well.

    Like

  5. I also used Webster in my blog as well. One of the key parts of the definition that I like to point out is the part where the definition says that art is “… typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Art is “typically” in such forms which means it does not always have to be in those forms, i.e. games can be art. Also, I can appreciate any game for its beauty even if I have no interest in the game, so I would still consider that game to be art. Would you consider a game art even if you had no personal attachment to it?

    Like

    • There are games that I consider art even if I have no personal attachment to some games as I have no interest in playing. Games such as The Last of Us and FFXV, I have no desire to play but I do realize that these games can be considered a form of high art

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s