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The argument over Mass Effect 3's ending makes Ken Levine sad

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If computer games are art than their creators should be able to define how they end.

Ken Levine Smithsonian GameFest panel, from Flickr
Ken Levine Smithsonian GameFest panel, from Flickr

BioWare-Mythic's Paul Barnett and Irrational Games' Ken Levine discuss the outcry over Mass Effect 3's ending.

Game makers, not game players, should retain control over the games they make and how they end, a panel of developers said during a weekend talk at the Smithsonian to celebrate the new exhibit, "The Art of Video Games."

"If computer games are art than I fully endorse the author of the artwork to have a statement about what they believe should happen," said Paul Barnett, senior creative director at BioWare-Mythic. "Just as J.K. Rowling can end her books and say that is the end of Harry Potter. I don't think she should be forced to make another one.

The comment came at the end of a nearly hour-long discussion about the future of video games which took place in front of a live audience at the Smithsonian American Art Museum last week.

Following the discussion, audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions. A man named Sam asked:

"What do you think of the whole idea where community has influence on making game story like for Paul with BioWare ...," he asked, referring to the "current fiasco going on right now with the Mass Effect ending."

Some gamers are upset over what they believe was an unsatisfying ending to the Mass Effect trilogy, a series that promised gamers an ending that was in part shaped by the choices they made over the course of playing the three titles.

Barnett's response was met with loud applause that overwhelmed Sam's response.

When the applause died down Ken Levine, founder of Irrational Games, added that he wanted to address the question as well because, Levine said, "I think this is an important moment."

"I think if those people got what they wanted and (BioWare) wrote their ending they would be very disappointed in the emotional feeling they got because ... they didn't really create it," he said. "I think this whole thing is making me a little bit sad because I don't think anyone would get what they wanted if that happened."