Mass Effect 3 causes mass homophobia at Metacritic

by manylaughs on May 9, 2012

Today, President Obama publicly supported gay marriage. Good for him. In honor of the moment, I’ve reposted an article I wrote for the a couple of weeks ago.


Mass Effect 3 causes mass homophobia at Metacritic


Photo credit: EA, BioWare

Have you read what the critics are saying about BioWare’s Mass Effect 3?

Mass Effect 3 is the third installment in BioWare’s brilliant Mass Effect franchise. BioWare titles such as Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Mass Effect are much more than video games: They are highly immersive, interactive movies with strong storylines drawing players deep into their worlds. Gamers feel like they’re doing more than just slaughtering hordes of monsters; the decisions they make in the game actually affects the direction of the story and the development of your character. Gamers feel as if they’re an integral part of the story.

Oh, and as an added bonus, you can actually romance other characters in the games, often leading to steamy, PG-rated scenes between you and your objet de l’amour. There’s little doubt the romance possibilities are an extra selling point of the games.

Mass Effect 3 released on March 6th of this year. It’s been both a critical and commercial success. IGN gave it a 9.5 out of 10, saying “Mass Effect 3 is an absolutely amazing game”. Gamespot gave the game 9 out of 10. Gamespot said Mass Effect 3 has a “[f]antastic, moving story that balances plot and character” and a “[m]uch-improved level design [that] leads to challenging, exciting battles”. PC Gamer gave the game 93 out of 100 and made the game an Editor’s Choice. In fact, all three gamer sites made Mass Effect 3 an Editor’s Choice.

Metacritic, a site that aggregates the scores from reviews of video games, movies and other forms of entertainments, has Mass Effect 3’s score at 89, making it one of the most critically acclaimed games on the site.

Gamers would appear to be equally enamored with the game. Their praise isn’t quite as high, but it’s awfully close. Gamers at IGN rate Mass Effect 3 9.8, even higher than the site’s review score. Over at Gamespot the user score is 8.3 PC Gamer doesn’t have user scores, but a review of comments from users on their site, and on gaming sites, in general, indicate most gamers love Mass Effect 3.

…both critics and users agree Mass Effect 3 is a great game.

Almost everywhere, both critics and users agree Mass Effect 3 is a great game.

Almost everywhere… Over at Metacritic, the user score is 3.8. Seriously?! Yes, seriously. What’s with the users at Metacritic? How can their scores be so different from the scores at gaming sites?

Ehh, for the most part they’re probably not gamers – they’re haters. Not to say some gamers aren’t haters – all sorts of people are gamers – but what’s going on with the users scores at Metacritic appears to be something darker, something that doesn’t have anything to do with gaming.

Sure there’s been more than a little angst among gamers about the ending and many of the reviews on Metacritic mention this, but many of the reviews on gaming sites mention this, too, and they’re scores aren’t that low. However, if you look at the difference in scores and comments on gaming sites and what’s being posted on Metacritic, you get the idea something else is going. There are too many way-low scores from users on Metacritic.

Paging through the user scores on Metacritic, you’ll see a whole lot of zero ratings. Zeros? What sort of keyboard turner gives a game a zero? A game pretty much has to literally kick you in the nads to warrant a zero, and even then it might rate a 2 just for the entertainment value your agony gives your buds. Pretty much no game deserves a zero; it’s idiotic, moronic and just plain lame for Metacritic to offer it as a score option. (Not to mention it makes their 10 point scale 11 points when you include the zero.)

So why did so many “gamers” on Metacritic think Mass Effect 3 was worse than a kick in the crotch?

So why did so many “gamers” on Metacritic think Mass Effect 3 was worse than a kick in the crotch?

Perhaps reading some of the comments these users left behind will give you some clues. First thing you’ll notice is a lot of people are upset about the ending. There are a lot of zero score posts that read like jclark123’s: “I even loved Mass Effect 3. It was an epic tale that even made me choke up at certain points. I’ve never had such an emotional response from a game. Then there was the ending…Deus Ex Machina stolen crappy ending that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.”

So jclark123 loved the game, but hated the ending. But a zero? Really? You loved the game and gave it a zero, jclark?? There are lots of reviews like that one, goofballs so outraged over the ending they don’t care how much fun they might have had before they got to the ending. Ehhh, nerds rage, what can ya’ say?

But then there are the reviewers like Hater123 (The username might tell you what to expect.): “I just didn’t enjoy the story, but that’s personal Gay Sex in my game??” Never mind that the sentence doesn’t make a lot of sense, you probably get the gist of it. Oh, nos!!! There’s “Gay Sex”!

Dragonknight4 says, Mass Effect 3 is “not an RPG…” and that it has “homoerotic gay male sex scenes”.

Rapzap says, “The game will try and force you to go homosexual, freaking Garrus made a pass at me and wouldn’t leave me alone!” Sounds like someone’s a little sensitive about their sexuality.

Rakka says, “[I]t forces gay romances down your throat…” Gay romances. Down your throat. Kinda makes you wonder if Rakka has something else on his mind.

And ItaJohnson informs us, “The fact that the paid reviewers rate it so high makes me want to vomit. Aside from the whole gay thing (and being gay is pretty common these days.. if you own an apple product you ARE gay and probably in denial)…” Does that apply to iPhone users, too?

And, though he doesn’t talk about same-sex issues, user reviewer jackie_chan says, “I ll beat the **** out of all this 10/10 morons, who were paid by EA, as soon as i ll be released from jail. Burn in hell, bioware, burn in hell, EA.” Okay, that one’s scary. Someone get jackie_chan a valium.

There’s just too much hate and vitriol among these reviews

You really don’t have to dig very far to find these sort of reviews on Metacritic. There’s just too much hate and vitriol among these reviews to attribute that 3.8 score strictly to a bunch of fanbois and fangoils disappointed over the ending. You’ve probably already clued in, but do you want to know what everyone at Metacritic is really upset about?

Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a same-sex romance option for Sheppard. Yeah, big deal, right? After all, there were same-sex romances in Dragon Age and previous Mass Effect games, weren’t there? Oh, but this time it’s different. You see, this time it’s a male same-sex relationship!

And there you have it. Female homosexuality in a game: Well, that’s okay. You can roll with that, right? But same-sex romance between two guys. Evidently, that sends a whole lot of people – Okay, guys, it sends a whole lot of guys. – into a bulging neck-vein, blood spitting fury.

You see, society pretty much allots two roles for men – billionaire playboy or UFC champion. If you don’t fall into either of those categories and you’re questioning your sexuality, you might be inclined to rage a bit.

Of course, there are other types of haters weighing in on this, too  – the woefully (forgivable) and the willfully (not forgivable) ignorant, and the good, old American bigot – but it’s usually the self-haters who really spew the bile. (Sorry isn’t good enough, Ken Mehlman.)

The haters, who sometimes ironically refer to themselves as family values groups, are attacking BioWare, its parent company, Electronic Arts, and Lucas Arts. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has attacked BioWare for the possibility of bringing same-sex relationship to Star Wars: The Old Republic, and a group called Florida Family Values has launched a letter writing campaign against Electronic Arts and Lucas Arts.

According to gameindustry international, EA and BioWare aren’t bowing to the pressure of a few fringe hate groups. “This isn’t about protecting children, it’s about political harassment,” Jeff Brown says, VP of EA Corporate Communications.

While there appears to be no direct evidence linking these groups with the low scores on Metacritic it seems likely they’re all part of the same movement of hate.

Metacritic tries to position itself as sort of the place to go to get good feedback on what users and critics think about all sorts of entertainment – games, movies, TV and music. For the most part it succeeds.

Metacritic fails and fails miserably as a usable source of informed gamer reviews

However, it’s clear Metacritic fails and fails miserably as a usable source of informed gamer reviews. By allowing Mass Effect 3 user reviews to become an outlet for people who want to spit hate, any usefulness others might have taken from the Mass Effect 3 User Score has been torpedoed.

If Metacritic is really concerned about having valuable user reviews, ones not motivated by hate, why don’t they have a Code of Conduct? Other, more professional sites have and enforce a Code of Conduct which include such novel ideas as no personal attacks, no threats of violence (Hello, jackie_chan.), no racism, bigotry or hate speech.

Hate, sadly, is a fact of live. Don’t blame the gamers for what’s going on at Metacritic – there’s a whole different class of internet moron writing the reviews there. By allowing hate and bigotry on their site, Metacritic undermines their value to users, their value as a site and they position themselves as a outlet for hate. Is that really what they want?

If you want gaming reviews, you might want to skip Metacritic. At least until they tell the haters to go elsewhere.

(Metacritic did not respond to a request to comment on this article.)

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