Mass Effect 3 Indoctrination Theorists
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Thematic Discussions on ME 3

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Thematic Discussions on ME 3 Empty Thematic Discussions on ME 3

Post by DSharrah Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:15 pm

Thought that I should pull these posts over from BSN, for preservation if nothing else...

"Long winded post...beware.

Synthetics vs Organics: Prevailing Theme or Last Minute Addition?


To say that Bioware’s conclusion to their epic trilogy has sparked much controversy and debate is to drastically understate the affect that Mass Effect 3 has had on the gaming community. From the developer’s own mouth, this was probably the intention all along, and it has been famously quoted in Geoff Keighley’s The Final Hours, “lots of speculation for everyone”. This statement coupled along with the ending that shipped with the game created a firestorm of opinion and the game has been dissected in every way possibly imaginable. One of the more popular dissections has come from a thematic analysis of the game. One of the ways that members of the gaming community have explored the themes that are present in the game is to analyze whether or not these arcs were present in all three games or new devices presented solely in Mass Effect 3. The purpose of this discussion is to examine one particular theme when considering this question, the theme regarding the conflict between Synthetics and Organics.

Many in the gaming community that dislike the endings, and discredit the work presented by Bioware often use the weakness of over arcing themes not being present in Mass Effect 3. A common argument is that Bioware departed to far from the original themes of the game and replaced them with themes that were only in present in the last game. The theme regarding Synthetics vs. Organics is a primary example of this. Those that do not like the endings and see the games as major failing on Bioware’s part argue that this is a theme that is presented at the last minute, an escape from the original intentions of the game and a disservice to the trilogy. But is this true?

To fairly analyze this point one must be willing to explore the lore of the universe (both in game and out of game), to find an origin point for the theme. That is simply not enough, then we must establish if this is a onetime mention or if it is a prevailing theme that not only arcs through each game, but through the entire trilogy as well. So let’s begin.

The Origin of the Theme

This is the definition of origin as given by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, “the point at which something begins or rises or from which it derives.” Using this very simple definition than we can simply state the origin of this theme would be the first time it is mentioned in the Mass Effect universe. To find this occurrence we need to examine both the in game and out of game lore, as establishing an accurate timeline from which to work is important. But not absolute, remember that we have been presented with evidence throughout the entire development time of the trilogy – spanning three games, books and comics. When we use all the sources available to us, the earliest mention of a conflict between organics and synthetics is the Morning War, a conflict between the Geth and Quarians . It is important to note that this is not a chronological order, but the order that was first presented to the community during the development cycle of the universe (or in other words, the very first time that audience learned of a conflict). This is mentioned during the prologue of Mass Effect, where we also learn that the Geth (a synthetic life form) has attacked an idyllic colony (of organics). So, not only is the theme introduced in the very first game, but it is in the prologue of the game where the player is supposed to learn the things that are most important to understanding the basics of the universe…not only that, it is then immediately reinforced by showing another example of a conflict between synthetics and organics – the Geth’s attack of Eden Prime.

The Arc of Theme

The second point that was previously stated to be important to consider, was if the theme in question had an arc through the game, the trilogy, the universe itself. This is an exercise that is easiest accomplished by simply listing all of instances that this theme presents itself. Game by game, book by book, comic by comic.

Mass Effect
· Mention of the Morning War on Eden Prime
· Geth attack Eden Prime
· Vision from the Prothean Beacon
· Citadel AI that wants to join Geth, tries to kill Shep
· Luna VI Mission
· Revelation that Sovereign is a Reaper, and the Reapers want to harvest organic life
· The Battle of the Citadel
· Each of the missions in game where Shep and crew battle the Geth (for example; Feros,
Geth Incursions, Colony of Dead, etc.)

Mass Effect 2
· Collector attacks on human colonies
· Abandoned Mine Assigment
· Imminent Crash Assignment
· Hahne-Kedar Assignment String
· Project Firewalker: Geth Incursion and Survey Sites
· Project Overlord
· Shepard/Crew vs. Collectors/Reapers
· Shepard/Crew vs. Proto Reaper
· Mnemsosyne/Klendagon Rift – Conflict b/w Reapers and ?

Mass Effect 3
· The Reaper War
· Geth-Quarian Conflict
· Prothean vs. Zha-til

Mass Effect: Evolution
· Meta-Turians (controlled by the Arca Monolith) vs. Saren

Mass Effect: Retribution
· Reaper controlled Grayson attacks Grissom Academy

Mass Effect: Invasion
· Reaper Adjutants attack Omega

As you can see, there are several instances of conflict between synthetics and organics. And this list may not be entirely comprehensive. This represents what I was able to find with a small amount of research. I think that it is fair that we can say that this is a theme that has an arc.


When you take the time to explore this theme it becomes very clear that its origin lies in the very early development of the universe. And it not only arcs throughout all three games but through the books and comics as well. It is more than fair to say that conflict between organics and synthetics is a prevailing and central theme."


"I have seen many arguements for the veracity of the indoctrination theory, but is there a more simplistic one than looking at one of the themes that continued to persist through all three games. That theme being that Shepard was a mirror to Saren.

In Mass Effect 1, this is more subtly done through out the game. The best example is the opportunity that is presented with the Rachni Queen (saving her can bring a very powerful ally into the fold, but has enourmous amount of risk associated).

In Mass Effect 2, you start to see that Shepard is being given the choice to stray further down the same path once travelled by Saren. This can be seen in two major ways. The first is through the cybernetic implants that were necessary to rebuild Shepard. And the second is the opportunity gain the same allies that you once fought as a part of Saren's army (the Geth and the Krogan). it really that much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that in Mass Effect 3 we would continue to see this mirrored affect in play? I think that the very nature of indoctrination lends itself to being the last dot that connects these two iconic figures in the Mass Effect Universe. And how ultimately by showing us that you can arrive at the same destination with two different but converging paths, and therefore potentially have drastically different outcomes. It is in the last statement that lies the biggest importance. To truly complete this over arching theme that has been persistent in all three games and show "the mirror"; I think that it is important to have Shepard not only face indoctrination but come to some resolution against it.

Now for my playthroughs (typically paragon, with a smidge of renegade when absolutely necessary), that would have Shepard overcoming indoctrination (somehow) and showing "the mirror" as more of a ying-yang relationship."

Feel free to discuss or just look.


Last edited by DSharrah on Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:21 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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