Mass Elect 3

Earlier this year, BioWare released Mass Effect 3, the final chapter in (perhaps) the company’s most lauded franchise. The game had an extensive universe and incredibly immersive gameplay, the best of which was the way it had players influencing events in the game with their choices. For five years, players developed characters that they truly invested themelves into. When Mass Effect 3 came out, a majority of the players felt that the conclusion to the game failed to live up to expectations since it was seemingly independent of in actions they took, invalidated much of the universe and character building they had engaged in and ultimately failed on a storytelling level. For months, gamers around the globe engaged in a bitter debate about the game, devoting hours towards dissecting the game or formulating complex conspiracy theories about hidden endings. In the end, BioWare and Electronic Arts released a revised ending which simply explained the conclusion better but didn’t revise or redact anything substantially.

In the end, it was an impressive –if futile– example of the influence and power of young gamers today. For once, a major corporation was forced to answer to its consumer base and discuss issues on a level playing field.  While little was actually changed, it at least showed how today’s youth -more importantly, gamers– could find a voice and affect the system.

Too bad it was used on such a pointless argument for such an inconsequential gain.

The governance of America has been degrading over the last 20 years.  The business of politics is no longer about the exploration of competing ideals, but about the fine art of obfuscation.  We’ve ceased to take our representatives to task about their lies and misinformation, allowed laws which degrade our democracy and tip the balance from the popular majority of the United States towards the selective hands of the entrenched few.  This election we are seeing the results of laws that grant unparalleled power to those with unlimited funds.  Truth is lost in the din and clamor of rhetoric.

We need individuals who are still idealistic and impassioned, who will not be swayed by a deluge of advertisements designed to mislead the careless voter.  If we can muster the collective will to browbeat a gaming company because we didn’t like the last five minutes of their game, what changes could we effect if we turned that blazing intent upon the people who guide our country?  However, to do that, gamers must become adults first:

Now, there are two possibilities here. Either (a) this gentleman is purposefully trying to sabotage Gretchen Carlson’s interview or (b) he is a legitimate interviewee. I strongly suspect it is the first possibility. While I’m never opposed to disrupting the Fox News disinformation flow, this sort of prank is not a positive step towards doing it. The way to become involved in the discussions of our time in a positive manner are by engagement and refutation. Acting like you’re stoned and stating that your choice of candidates was based upon a basketball game simply marginalizes any valid opinions you may hold and reinforces the opinion that young adults are inattentive, frivolous and (worse) inconsequential to the political process.

The sad fact is that young adults should be the most important constituency in any political arena. Aside from the obvious fact that they have the most potential to affect change over a longer period of time due to their relative longevity (compared to older voters), they also are more likely to donate their time and be more devoted to a cause. Having children and a mortgage as well as other ‘mature’ adult concerns both consumes a large portion of one’s free time as well as makes us far more likely to be complacent in how we approach important issues. We are seeing that on a daily basis.

Older adults are less likely to research complex issues or engage in independent fact-checking. We are more likely to select a single source of information or a tight collection of sources that exclusively support the same assumptions. We are disinterested in demanding transparency and honesty and more accepting of dishonesty because we’re too absorbed by more immediate concerns to care. We are misled on a daily basis and we’ve ceased to care.

That is why engaging younger adults in the process is so essential. They have the motivation and the idealism to pursue the issues and demand more from their government. To do that, they need to make themselves a political force, to demand respect and honesty in how they are treated. Unfortunately, this video does not help in that mission. I applaud the humor of the video, but we need to focus on challenging information aggregators like Fox News on the veracity of what they say. We can’t earn create a better political system by trolling the monsters under the bridge, only by exposing them to the light of day.  We also can’t effect change if the most important thing to consume our passions is the games we play.  The world is has no pause button.  Put down the controllers and care.


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