The Embed Problem: Diana Allers in Mass Effect 3 and Jessica Chobot in EA

Jessica Chobot is, as they say, a game journalist. She's been around a while, writing for IGN and gaining notoriety for licking consoles. She was also featured in Mass Effect 3 as Diana Allers, an in-game galactic journalist. Recently, she decided to weigh in on the whole Mass Effect 3 controversy with some choice words.

This, of course, was not received by the so called "entitled gamers", prompting a full apology from Chobot for her choice of words.

Chobot's comments represented a conflict of interest. On the one hand, she's being paid by EA in two ways. The first for her direct involvement in Mass Effect 3 as a character and the second via her work at IGN and all the promo stuff she receives to promote the game. That's not to say that journalists shouldn't be allowed to be featured in games, comics, movies, etc.

What it does say though is that when you come out and blast the same gamers that you say you're a part of and defend the "enemy" so to speak, you're going to alienate some people. Her first post was right, but her apology was a little off. It was for a lot of the wrong reasons.

Before we dive in, please note I do not begrudge Chobot anything. I think it's awesome she's been so successful and wish her nothing but the best.

Chobot spoke the truth somewhat in saying that the gamers shouldn't feel "entitled." Yes, her position makes her seem more like a corporate shill and she probably could have chosen her words better, but the fact remains that she's right.

Full disclaimer, I've yet to complete Mass Effect 3. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through and have avoided ending spoilers like the plague (a tall order in this day and age), but from the bits and pieces I've read, the ending isn't pretty. That is to say, I get the sense a lot of people die and the series isn't wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow where Shepherd and the crew of the Normanday make a home on a rainbow.

I'm ok with that.

Video games are like any other form of expressive art. That means that the final product is something you absorb and either love or hate, but it doesn't give you carte blanche to demand changes. A great example is Star Wars. People (myself included) are still peeved that George Lucas refuses to release the original trilogy unaltered with CGI. All we want is the original trilogy with audio and video cleaned up so that it looks nice.

Lucas refuses to do that though, saying the special edition versions more accurately capture his vision. Does that piss us off? Yes. That doesn't mean though that we're "entitled" to the copy we want. Our choice is to suck it up and buy what he's selling, or just not buy it at all. It's a simple choice and it's one that every single one of you can make.

At this point, the reaction is probably something along the lines of "I've given Bioware and EA my money for two games already and this is how they repay me?"

Yes, you have purchased two games from them (three at this point) and you are entitled to some enjoyment. Are you saying that you haven't enjoyed the games to this point? The vast majority of people buying Mass Effect 3 are doing so because they've been there from the start and want closure to the story. Bioware never stated that the closure would be something that you agree with, but it's closure nonetheless.

In this sense, Chobot is right with her original comments. Sure, gamers have the right to complain about a game. That's what forums, Twitter, Facebook and Gamefaqs for. We can be unhappy with any aspect of a game and have the right to talk about it. That doesn't give us the right to demand it be changed, simply because that's a slippery slope.

If Bioware and EA capitulate to the unhappy masses then it doesn't stop there. The next game that gamers are unhappy with could be subject to the same complaints. Don't like Assassin's Creed III being set during the Revolutionary War? Let's petition to have it set in the Civil War. Regardless of the fact that Ubisoft has already committed countless resources to have the game developed HOW THEY PLANNED IT. It's not smart.

Her apology includes two other tidbits that deserve mentioning.

First, she mentions she didn't get her job for "licking a PSP" and that's possibly true. She'd be lying though if she didn't credit that moment with creating a zeitgeist that catapulted her even further to popularity. She was hired full-time by IGN in 2006, AFTER the photo of her and the PSP appeared in 2005. To say that didn't play a part in her being hired would be disingenuous to say the least.

The reality is that both women and men use their bodies to sell products and Chobot is no different. That's not to say she's not good at what she does (in journalism), but the fact remains that sex sells and it has helped her popularity. David Beckham poses in underwear and his popularity explodes. It wasn't that posing that made him a great soccer player.

Chobot even participates as a weekly guest on Maxim Radio. You know, the same Maxim that sells sex in its magazines.

Second, she mentions if the gamers were "unsatisfied" with her character in the game they don't have to bring her aboard. True, but then those same gamers might not get the best ending possible. This is because of the way Bioware counts "war assets" into the ending the gamer receives. Anyone that doesn't have enough of them built up when they launch the final stage of the game won't get the best ending.

It's wholly possible that you can get the best ending without bring Diana onboard, but most gamers that want that full ending will do so just for the sake of that. The endings apparently only differ by seconds, but that's not the point. Chobot shouldn't defend her character as "optional" when the game itself sort of depends on her.

Ultimately, Chobot is right. The gamers shouldn't be "whining" about the ending. If you're not happy with it, voice it. Let people know you're not satisfied with it. Don't expect it to change though. That's not what gamers are about. We're about enjoying the journey from start to finish. Along the way we will find things we're upset with, just like we'll find stuff we love. That's part of being a gamer.

In fact, the game Journey was just released to critical acclaim and is all bout--you guessed it--a journey.

If you don't like a game, don't buy it. It you've bought it and finished but feel betrayed, sell it and complain. Don't feel though that you have a right to demand the game play out exactly as you like. The only way you get that say is if you work at Bioware and play a part in that process.

There's no problem with what Chobot said, other than alienating the same group she's supposed to be a part of. There is a problem with her apology, as that further aligns her with EA and Bioware. When you're covering games as your job and you go down that path, it's hard to turn back. That's the problem that people have with her comments and her apology. She's no longer perceived as a gamer. She's selling out.

In Mass Effect 3, Chobot's character Diana Allers is embedded on the Normandy. In real life, Chobot is dangerously close to being embedded in EA. And that's a position that threatens her credibility with gamers altogether.