Emer: I’m not crying, shut up.

Games Played: Mass Effect 3, FF:RK, Harvest Moon: A New Beginning

Games Beat: Mass Effect 3

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I knew what was going to happen at the end of Mass Effect 3 before I even started up the ME1. I thought I was prepared. But, knowing in vague details (“even the good ending is bad!”) did not prepare me for the absolute horror and heartbreak of the last half hour of that game. It was unrelenting pathos and I hated and loved it in equal measure.

I chose, by the way, destruction. I had all three endings open to me and enough EMS to get the best possible of each ending. I thought about it for a long time. Control — only tempted me for a minute. I love my Shep and I know her motivations but I don’t trust anyone with absolute power, ever. In control of the reapers, would she ever think curing a wrong was more important than life, than free will? Because I think she struggled with those decisions, sometimes. Absolute power corrupts. And when you’re seeing things on a galactic scale (as the reapers have proven), an individual life doesn’t mean so much. So, ok. Synthesis or destruction. Synthesis is set up as the good ending by the starchild, but why should I trust him? And Shepherd doesn’t like making choices that take away the freedom of entities to choose their own lives. All along, she has fought against that, with one notable exception (I reprogrammed the Geth and hated myself for it). And integrating the reapers into us?

So, destruction. But, EDI and the geth…so many lives lost. And that didn’t feel good either: Shep consistently tried to give species a chance (the geth and the rachni) and to make a choice that wipes them out…It wasn’t a HAPPY ending. It felt like the right ending. The goal was ending the reapers and we did (the starchild warns that we are probably going to have the same issue in some number of generations from now, but he forgets that we know how to fight now. We are not the same).

So, I spent most of this game crying; there was value in playing them all together. I felt sad when Ashley died at the end of Mass Effect 1 but it did not compare to how I felt to Mordin, Thane, Legion’s deaths in ME3. Destroyed. I cared, a lot.

And that’s why I get kind of cranky at the whole wasting your life playing video games. To me, this trilogy was a space opera. Why’s there value in reading one, or value in watching one, but not in playing one? I connected as deeply with these characters as I did with Han Solo, or Groot. Or Arthur Dent or Alice or anyone in a book. Games have value in the stories they tell.

Games like FF:RK have less value, but to my annoyance I found a way around my level cap woes from last week. Looks like I’m finishing this after all. Damn my guilt complex paired with a serious addiction to coimpletionism, anyhow. It’s not that it’s unfun, it just feels a bit more like a chore than anything else at the moment. See also: dailies in WoW when you’re just about burnt out but feel like you should keep going anyhow. If this was a computer game, I’d be knocking it off the list, complete without comment. But as an iPad game, it’s a fine time filler when I’m waiting in line, on the phone with a slow customer, etc. (“Ok, so I’d like you to click on the Apple log…” “YOU’RE GOING TOO FAST.”)

I’m more on the fence about a handful of free Apple games I downloaded from the Mac App store ages ago. They were all impulse downloads at a time when I was bored and they are all, to a game, vessels to convince my brain I need to spend money. They’re the prime example of why IAP is often evil and mostly out of control. Wait, I said I was on the fence, didn’t I? Well. I feel like I need to give them a chance to prove that they aren’t the FF:RK or Tiny Towers brand of freemium games. But I don’t want to commit to them for what would end up being fruitless and unhappy play. So, where’s the line? I haven’t decided. An hour? A couple of hours? A week?

But before I even get there, there’s more Harvest Moon, which I just found out can go on for literally as long as you want it to. Um. So I figure my goal is a crop to 5 Star, have a family, and call it quits. It’s a sweet game and I’m enjoying it, but when I come out of something as emotionally catching as Mass Effect and then spend five in game days doing the exact same thing in Harvest Moon? Well, the cognitive dissonance is a bit overwhelming.

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