How video games lead to social interaction

I am a HUGE Mass Effect fan (my ringtones for calls and texts are pulled from Mass Effect 2).  So, like many people, I was super excited when Mass Effect 3 came out.  I had played Mass Effect a couple times and had played Mass Effect 2 four or five times (two of those times were, literally, back to back).  I even replayed Mass Effect 1 and 2 in order to set things up exactly how I wanted for my Mass Effect 3 play through.  I thought the story and play through of Mass Effect 3 was pretty good.

My Mass Effect games along with my two models of the SR2 Normandy from ME2.
My Mass Effect games along with my two models of the SR2 Normandy from ME2.

However, all of that fell completely flat with the ending.  To me, the ending was just terrible.  It eliminated a lot of what I loved about the game; the story, the relationships you built with everyone, everything.  Because of how distraught I was with the ending, I needed to find someone to talk to about it.

One of my good friends, who is also a Mass Effect fan, had the game but hadn’t finished it yet.  So, I pleaded with him to hurry it up and finish the game so we could talk about it.  I wanted to know what he thought of the ending, which ending he choose, how it could have been better, what about Indoctrination Theory, etc.  I just had to unload a bit.

When finally he finished the game, we spent hours talking about the ending.  Neither of us particularly liked the ending, though I was far more upset with it than he was.  We discussed which ending we chose (I cannot remember what he chose but I definitely chose the green ending) and why.  We discussed Indoctrination Theory and why it made for a much better ending.  We discussed how the team you have been playing with throughout the games seemingly up and fled.  We also discussed the other two ending options and their repercussions for the universe of Mass Effect.  We pretty much dissected every aspect we could of the endings.

We spent a lot of time debating what the endings mean.  We were trying to get more out of it than was initially offered.  The more we talked about it, the more we started to agree that the ending was terrible and actually kind of ruined the game for us.  We didn’t get anything we wanted out of it.  We both wanted to know how and what our companions were doing.  Did my decisions matter and make a difference?

We were not alone, and there was quite a bit of comfort knowing that a great majority of people who played the Mass Effect games were viewing the ending similarly.  The complaints reached a tipping point and EA, who makes Mass Effect, released a 2GB, free, DLC for Mass Effect 3 that answered a lot of the fans’ criticism.  I have watched videos on YouTube of the improved ending but haven’t quite forgiven EA enough to replay the game and see it for myself.

What this all brings me to is that video games, even single player games, bring us to social interact with other people.  Unlike with WoW (or other MMORPGs) where the interaction occurs while you play, the social interaction for games like Mass Effect come after the game is played.  I feel that the more invested we are in a game or game series (like I was for Mass Effect) the larger the need to talk and discuss the game after playing.  To this day, I can, and will, still have discussions about Mass Effect.  However, this isn’t limited to video games.  We want to share, by socially interacting, what we are most passionate about in life.

Have you ever had lengthy, in-depth conversations over video games?  If so, which video games?  Please leave a comment below and/or share on Twitter.

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