Let me guide you through a quick introduction. There's this company named Bioware that even the novice gamer will recognize. They've built some of the best video games through the incorporation of story-telling, cinematics, a conquering control system, customized conversations and decision trees where one choice impacts other aspects of the game. Baldur's Gate was a classic for many, but it wasn't Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic that earned Bioware mainstream attention.
Knights' natural progression came in the form of a trilogy called Mass Effect. You're a character called Commander Shepard and you can customize the character, male, female, facial features and you can even use a back-story that caters to the character that you want developed. Every decision that you make impacts the universe and carries over to the next game. If one of your crew dies based on a decision that you make, they're absent from the sequels (if you play through again and help him live, then he/she are present in the other games). To me, it's the best trilogy of games ever made, because the character that you play is one that you invested in and build over three games.
Unfortunately, the ending was bad. Controversial. Dire. No matter what choices that you made, it seemed like everything that you invested in was a waste. It created a firestorm among the Mass Effect community. It forced Bioware and EA to issue an apology and a downloadable finale that offered a little more hope into the universe that you helped save.
Some of you may have experienced it. Can you imagine spending a hundred hours in a trilogy of games and were left with that? Then you realize, in an introspective state, that the journey was pretty awesome. The ending wasn't as fulfilling as we thought that we deserved, but it shouldn't take away from the enjoyment of cinematic experience of what the game brought to its players.
You may not have played Mass Effect, but you're familiar with the feeling.
The 2013 season for the Cincinnati Bengals was a great journey with the type of conclusion that is expressively defined as a failure. It should be. As fans, we invested so much emotion, money and time into the Bengals, only to watch it get pissed away.
When you look back though, it was a thrill-ride. A great joy to watch.
The Terence Newman fumble return for a touchdown, to wipe out a Packers 16-point advantage to claim a win that should have never happened. Or the easy Monday Night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, highlighted by two Giovani Bernard touchdowns that widened everyone's eyes that were too ignorant to realize that this kid was the real deal.
How about the rainstorm late in the fourth quarter that drenched New England's comeback, allowing the Bengals to beat the Patriots in a game that no one gave Cincinnati a chance in? The overtime win in Buffalo and the four-touchdown performance by Marvin Jones to give Cincinnati a 49-9 win over the New York Jets. The total domination over the Browns, from every unit on the team scoring touchdowns, the thrashing of the Colts and the season finale against Baltimore.
Don't tell me that you didn't enjoy the journey. I won't accept those lies. And if you can't sit back and realize how fun 2013 was, a small part of me feels sorry for you.
Like our experiences with Mass Effect, the journey was a blast. There were your moments. Frustrating boss battles that required endless repetition. Losing to the Cleveland Browns or Miami Dolphins. Those things happen. Perfection is impossible, but victory was always a probability.
Don't let it take away from the fulfillment that you had every week. An adventure .A reason to keep playing, watching, cheering, and digging your body against the mundane and disappointments, only to come out re-charged with enthusiasm.
Like many good journeys, it ended poorly. Unexpectedly. It wasn't what was deserved. The Cincinnati Bengals dropped a deuce, as did Bioware/EA in the finale of the Mass Effect trilogy (don't get me wrong, the game itself was a blast, just the ending).
When I look back at the 2013, I'll still look fondly. Without a postseason win, it should be deemed a failure. However, September through December was great. A blast. Fun. This was one one of the best teams that I've followed because I knew, KNEW, that Cincinnati was going to win. They didn't always. But it was always possible.
Their disappointing finale shouldn't have happened but it did. Just don't let it take away form the journey that it was.