The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 91 | The Weekly Digression

Leaving Proof 91 | The Weekly Digression
Published on Thursday, March 22, 2012 by

Time for another excursion into the world beyond comics. This week, I look back on last Saturday’s Martinez vs. Macklin middleweight championship bout, muse briefly on the kerfuffle over Mass Effect 3‘s ending, finish Journey, and present another playlist for your listening pleasure.

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Martinez drops Macklin in the 11th round

Like millions of men and women across North America and the British Isles, I spent St. Patrick’s Day evening watching two guys beat each other senseless. No, I wasn’t watching drunks duke it out at the local pub’s parking lot. I was tuned in to HBO, watching California-based Argentinian pugilist Sergio Martinez defend his lineal middleweight boxing title against 12-to-1 underdog Matthew Macklin, a British challenger of Irish descent. Rafe Bartholomew over at Grantland wrote a nice piece about the fight where he discusses the ethnic and cultural politics that inform the sweet science as well as the strange position Martinez finds himself in as one of boxing’s most avoided fighters despite being the sport’s true middleweight champion. Martinez beat Macklin by the way (if you can’t tell from the animated .GIF that accompanies this paragraph), earning a TKO at the end of the 11th round after knocking down the game Birmingham native twice in a span of 50 seconds with his signature counter-left and denying the well-lubricated, largely pro-Macklin crowd at Madison Square Garden’s WaMu Theater a chance at seeing a St. Patrick’s Day miracle. If you’re any kind of combat sports fan at all and you missed the fight, track down a video of it or catch the replays: Martinez’ highly unconventional southpaw style—hands dangerously low, chin exposed just begging to get tagged—and the awesome knockout power he packs in his left hand always makes for interesting bouts, even when he starts out slow as he did Saturday.

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If you’ve been following the latest news from the video game world, you’ve likely heard about the controversy regarding Bioware’s Mass Effect 3. I haven’t played any of the Mass Effect games myself, but the story has pretty much been unavoidable the past week if you regularly read gaming news sites like I do. Long story short, a sizable group of vocal fans didn’t like the game’s ending and raised a stink on the interwebs (even going to the effort of raising over $78,000 in a charity fundraiser to attract attention to their cause). Fast forward a couple of weeks later and Bioware announced that after much internal deliberation, they are indeed releasing new downloadable content that addresses player concerns about the original ending. As noted in an editorial over at Pixel Jumpers, this does seem to set a significant precedent for the medium:

… as admittedly disappointing as the ending of Mass Effect 3 actually is, it would be even more disappointing for BioWare to cave into fan pressure and “change” it. In the ongoing debate surrounding video games’ validity as an art form, gamers are effectively shooting themselves in the foot with this petition. They are demanding that the ending meet THEIR vision for the game, not the vision of the creators themselves. In doing so, they are essentially saying that video games are not legitimate works of art; they are products, toys that must be fixed if they don’t meet our expectations.

Of course, a simple rebuttal to this argument is to point out that video games are indeed “products”. The categories of art and commerce aren’t exactly mutually exclusive these days, and some manner of recompense is reasonable if the gamer-as-consumer community earnestly believes it has been misled with regards to Mass Effect 3—it seems that the bone of contention for many isn’t so much the quality of the ending, as it is the fact that there’s really only one ending, when promotions for the game seemed to indicate that there would be multiple endings, the choice of which would be determined by the player’s actions in-game.

As it almost always is the case with these New Media dilemmas though, the affair is likely to be more complicated than just gamers acting with an irrational sense of entitlement or Bioware falsely advertising the game’s features. The real problem is likely to be an intersection of the two issues, and a satisfying solution will only come about if both parties can agree to some sort of compromise.

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As you may recall from last week’s Digression, I recently picked up the PSN-exclusive game Journey. I’ve completed the game’s main quest and I have to say, it’s quite the unique gameplay experience. I generally avoid playing online multiplayer in games with a significant offline gameplay component but in this case, the anonymous co-op matching and limited communication options add a wholly different social texture to the multiplayer undertaking. If you’ve got a PS3, you should really give this game a go.

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Last week’s inaugural Weekly Digression Mixtape was pretty uneven as far as randomly-generated playlists go. This week, the Shuffle Button Gods have gifted us with another similarly schizophrenic collection of ten songs (song titles link to corresponding video/audio, if available):

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