Possibility Space:A Mass Effect analysis

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Goal: $6,000.00

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Rowan Kaiser

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Possibility Space will be a book-length analysis of the Mass Effect games, written by video game and pop culture critic Rowan Kaiser. It will be released as an ebook comprised of a serie... more


Updated posted by Rowan Kaiser 8 days ago

Dear backers,

A new excerpt is currently available on Unwinnable.com, about how Garrus is the true hero of the Mass Effect series: http://www.unwinnable.com/2014/04/14/garrus-and-the-turians/#.U0vQFVdgxHB

This particular excerpt is in aid of Unwinnable's Kickstarter campaign, which needs your help. I'd appreciate it greatly if you'd consider donating. Even if not, every sharing of this excerpt on every piece of social media you might have will be helpful.

That's all for now.


Updated posted by Rowan Kaiser 3 months ago

Hello, backers!

I have been recording my final Mass Effect playthrough as a Let's Play. See the first installment here: http://youtu.be/tNMfhtHXZ7w

My channel is here, if you'd like to subscribe: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ZEbU5nrFjakqHkbeNPNKA?feature=watch I probably won't link every single one of these as uploaded, but might give reminders when I start ME2 and ME3.

In addition to the usual Let's Play shenanigans, I also spend time analyzing what's going on, and outlining for the book. So if you're interested in my thought process, this'll be a good way to check it out.

I'd also have loved to have streamed this, but unfortunately, my connection isn't good for decent-resolution streaming, so that plan will have to be sidelined.

That's all for now.


Updated posted by Rowan Kaiser 3 months ago

Hello backers! It's a new year, and I'd said I hoped to have this completed around this time. Obviously this wasn't the case, which probably won't surprise anyone who knows me. But I did say that it'll be "Valve time" and that was merely a hope.

What I can say is that I've been working on the book, taking copious amounts of screenshot notes, outlining, and writing what I think are pretty damn interesting essay/chapters (currently, how the structure of the war and the structure of the narrative in Mass Effect 3 work against one another). I'm feeling increasingly confident that this can get done without too much pain, and be a good read at that.

As I get closer to completion I'd also like to do more fun publicity, like streaming playthroughs of the best battles in the series and how the level design makes them work. I will, of course, update you all on such events.

That's all for now.

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Created by Rowan Kaiser on April 9, 2013

Possibility Space will be a book-length analysis of the Mass Effect games, written by video game and pop culture critic Rowan Kaiser. It will be released as an ebook comprised of a series of chronological essays about many of the components of the Mass Effectgames, like characterization, ethics, combat, and genre.
The first excerpt on the Mako has now been posted at Kotaku!

(special thanks to twitter user @ABillionSuns for the cover image)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why support this project?

I see four good reasons. First, Mass Effect is quite possibly the most interesting, discussion-worthy game series of all time, and youcan't read enough about it.

Second, maybe you're a fan of long-form video game criticism, like Brendan Keogh's Killing Is Harmless, one of the inspirations for this project.
Third, maybe you'd like to support me, Rowan, trying to break free of a freelance writer's rut. I don't want to turn this into a major sob story, but crowdfunding for this project seems to me to be the best way to stop living check-to-check, while still writing about the things I like to write about most, and that I hope you like to read about.
Fourth, maybe you want to help Percy afford a visit to the vet.

Who are you to write about Mass Effect?

I'm a freelance critic for a variety of different outlets. I'm the Western role-playing game columnist at Joystiq, and have been published at Bit Creature, 1Up, Gamasutra, Unwinnable, Ars Technica, Gamespy, IGN, Gameranx, and more. I've also been published on video games at general sites like Salon and The American Prospect.
Some articles I've written on Mass Effect: a critical analysis of the ending, an examination of its genre, or a list of spinoffs I'd love to see. Some other general work includes an examination of why violent video games hold appeal, or my review of Baldur's Gate.

I also work as a television and occasional book critic at The A.V. Club. What I love most is analyzing the narrative structure of speculative fiction--I'm currently reviewing Babylon 5 for TV Club Classic. I also reviewed Game Of Thrones for PressPlay.
This combination of video game and storytelling interests makes Mass Effect just about the perfect game series for me to think about, and I hope you'll agree that my experience makes me a great match for writing about it.

Do I really need to give you my address?

Only if you want the hard copy! Otherwise just put in whatever nonsense seems appropriate.

When will it be done?

Having never written a full book before, I'm hesitant to make promises--let's just say I'm closer to Valve time than EA time. Still, I'm aiming for this fall, and I would be disappointed in myself if it wasn't released in 2013.

Why are you crowdfunding a book?

I'm self-publishing because I don't know if there's a market for long-form game criticism in conventional publishing (although if any publishers see this and want to make an offer, I'll listen).
I'm crowdfunding because, as I mentioned above, I am a freelance writer living check-to-check. My time is spent pitching and playing anything I can that might earn me money. Only with the financial flexibility of a successful GoFundMe campaign will I be able to free up the time to write the long-form criticism that I want to do, and that Mass Effect deserves.

What does "Possibility Space" mean?

The thing I find most fascinating about Mass Effect is the gap between what it tries to be--a massive space opera epic--and what it actually is--an occasionally wobbly collection of different ideas and gameplay mechanics. The series manages to make its disparate parts work together by giving the player the space to see all of its possibilities and assume the best of the games. Mass Effect works because we want it to work, and it very rarely totally fails.
Also, it's a science fiction story and it's got "space" in the title! Get it?
(I would consider changing the title if I come up with something better, of course, but I'm not going to worry about it too much. This one works.)

Will this get in the way of your other project?

No. That's almost finished, and in will probably be finished even faster if this crowdfunding campaign is successful enough to let me stop chasing freelance work for a few days.

But the ending ruined everything!!!!~~!@!

Don't get me wrong, I have huge issues with the ending myself, and I'm certainly not going to pull any punches when I get to that point. However, part of the reason the ending hurt so much was that everything else was so good. I try not to lose sight of that.

How long will the fundraiser last?

GoFundMe pages can stay up indefinitely, so until the book is near release, this will stay up. How much I publicize it will change, of course. But there's no deadline if you're broke now, but will have money in a month.

How exactly are you going to write about Mass Effect?

As this is a critical analysis, I'm going to focus directly on the games themselves. This means that I am not, at this point, interested in interviews, explanations or authorial intent.
I view my role as a critic as something like an expert guide. I will offer different ways to view and think about the games, while adding my subjective feelings and experiences. My hope is that, like most good criticism, Potential Space will be readable and interesting even if you don't agree.
Finally, I'm planning on focusing exclusively on the main trilogy of games and their add-ons and expansions. This means I'm going to avoid Mass Effect transmedia texts like the novels and mobile games, unless I'm given a compelling reason to change my mind.

Will you do press for this project?

Great Maker yes! I need this to eat! If you want to do a news piece, interview, podcast, whatever, I'm probably interested. Feel free to contact me here, on Twitter @rowankaiser, or my email is my Twitter name at gmail.

Have Questions? Contact the organizer of this campaign now:

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Hi Rowan, would love to read this - any ETA on it?

posted by Ehsan Knopf 2 months ago

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Recent Donations (189)

$4,012 raised by 189 people in 12 months.

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Nick LaPlante

1 day ago


Your book is going to be bad ass, hope this donation helps :p




2 days ago




8 days ago

ebook copy


Amyus Bale

16 days ago


Hope you're enjoying yourself and the words are flowing, this sounds fascinating and I look forward to reading more.

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Brian JOse

28 days ago


Happy Monies, Rowan

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Reetesh Yelamanchili

1 month ago


Good job with the Game Of Thrones Storify/map thing. Liked the comparison with the books.



David Wohlreich

1 month ago

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Sam Crisp

2 months ago


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