Everyone’s passionate about something. For you, maybe it’s golf or cars or crocheting or music. For me, it’s video games. And of all the games out there, those in the spacefaring Mass Effect series are my favorite of all time.
You can imagine, then, how I waited for the newest installment, Mass Effect: Andromeda, with gleeful impatience. The footage I’d seen from trailers on YouTube looked amazing. The characters looked compelling and relatable. The glimpses of far-flung worlds to be explored were, even in brief previews, breathtaking.
Then, shortly before release, news of the game’s glitches started hitting the internet. Gamers across the globe had a field day trashing Andromeda for its slow performance, uneven writing, and many animation problems. As one reviewer stated, “For the most part, all of the characters are just alarmingly emotionless. They have this constant blank expression on their faces that just isn’t conveying anything.”
Surely, it couldn’t be that bad, I thought—I hoped. Maybe everyone was complaining about nothing. People love to complain on the internet, after all. Right?
When I started playing, though, I realized they were right: My beloved franchise was having issues. I was annoyed with BioWare, the company that developed the series, for not putting their A-team on the project. I’d loved all their games in the past, but their inattention to detail and lack of consideration to their fanbase made me angry.
After the explosion of criticism hit the internet, however, BioWare did something unexpected—and, from a Christian perspective, remarkably admirable. They didn’t run away with their tails between their legs. They didn’t ignore the outcry from the fans and disappear after taking their money. Instead, the company listened to what fans were saying and started to develop patches (updates to the game that fix technical issues). The first one was recently released, and included various bug fixes and updates to improve the characters’ lip sync and facial acting.
My faith is being restored in the company because of these actions. Yes, they made mistakes (many, many mistakes), but they’re willing to own up to them and listen to constructive criticism on how to improve their work.
On a good day, I could say the same about myself—but other times, I should be so lucky to make the same claim, because accepting criticism, learning from it, and moving forward isn’t just a matter of fan service; it’s a daunting spiritual challenge.
Criticism and Mockery in a Screen-Based Culture
As a journalist with the majority of my work published on the internet, being able to accept criticism is a must. My editors consistently improve my work, and I have to trust that they know what’s best, even if I think my original draft was better (I’m usually wrong). People are constantly reading my work and responding to it—disagreeing with it, questioning it, or flaming it. While I might not always agree with their opinions, I can still thoughtfully interact with what they have to say.
Being able to take constructive criticism is necessary to grow and improve—and it requires a healthy portion of humility with a heaping side of grace. We are quick to reject someone else’s opinion when it differs from ours—especially if it involves a project in which we are emotionally invested. But being able to discuss other people’s opinions even when they differ from ours can be constructive and build relationships. Constructive criticism can’t do its job when one side shuts the conversation down.