Ex-schrijver BioWare krijgt jeuk bij idee van Mass Effect tv-serie

Kijk je uit naar de mogelijke Mass Effect tv-serie van Amazon? Niet iedereen is zo enthousiast. David Gaider, een voormalig icoon op het gebied van verhalen bij ontwikkelaar BioWare, is nog niet heel lyrisch. Hij krijgt jeuk bij het idee van een Mass Effect tv-serie.

Gaider was eerder lead writer van alle drie de games uit de Dragon Age serie. Na ruim 17 jaar verliet hij BioWare in 2016. Hij snapt in elk geval niet dat fans zo enthousiast reageren op het bericht over de plannen van Amazon. Gaider maakt zich vooral zorgen over de uitwerking. Bijvoorbeeld over de keuze voor een man of vrouw als hoofdpersonage, wat je in de games juist zelf kunt kiezen en vormen. Of hoe je samenwerkt met andere personages en bepaalde keuzes maakt.

Hieronder het uitgebreide verhaal van Gaider, die overigens wel blij is dat Amazon een tv-serie in gedachten heeft en niet een film:

I’m relieved to see that the Mass Effect / Amazon deal is for a potential TV series and not a movie. Even so, the possibility (and likewise for Dragon Age) makes me cringe just a little, unlike many fans who appear… excited?

For starters, Mass Effect and Dragon Age have a custom protagonist, meaning said TV show will need to pick whether said protagonist will be male or female. Boom, right off the bat you’ve just alienated a whole bunch of the built-in fan base who had their hopes up.

Secondly, those protagonists are designed to be a bit of a blank slate, one that the player fills out with their decisions. That’s not going to work for a passive medium. So, suddenly, the protagonist will have their own personality, and their own story. That will be weird.

You think I’m wrong? Consider just how much of the story is off-loaded onto the companions. They are the cyphers through which the player gets most of their emotional engagement from. On their own, the Dragon Age and Mass Effect protagonists are… well, pretty boring. That’s not going to fly.

And think of those companions. Think of how much the fanbase is attached to them. Now consider the fact that there is no way in hell any single story could encompass them all equally. Think of the howls of rage when companion X is relegated to a cameo, or not there at all. Having a TV show instead of a movie allows for more companion options, sure, but consider your own playthrough: only a handful of them had any meaningful presence in a single game. That will need to be the case for this story, to maintain coherence. A few companions, one romance.

And that’s if the TV show makers consider the companions to be all that important. They might toss most of them aside in favour of the plot. In my mind, that would be a mistake. Both Mass Effect and Dragon Age’s plots were, at best, serviceable. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Those plots had to take into account the player’s agency. They were kind of the shell upon which that player’s emotional engagement was delivered – usually through the companions and the choices themselves. Choice heightened engagement. Interactivity was the star, not the plot.

Take all that out, lose most of the companions, and you potentially end up with a pretty run-of-the-mill fantasy or science-fiction show, one where a lot of the built-in audience has possibly been turned into outraged, howling malcontents before it’s even released.

All that is, of course, if the Dragon Age or Mass Effect series is mishandled. I can think of any number of ways it could be done better, but that involves doing more than a strict adaptation, and that comes with its own complications. Anyhow, good luck to the showrunners. They’ll need it.

Een behoorlijk betoog van de beste man, maar wellicht heeft hij een punt? Zitten er meer haken en ogen aan een tv-serie van Mass Effect dan dat veel fans nu denken? Of gaat het gewoon heel gaaf worden? Laat het weten in de reacties!

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