It's a child's response, isn't it?
Sensing that the story is not going to have a happy ending, you close the book. The resolution remains unread, the story remains unfinished, and the tragic conclusion is indefinitely postponed.
The mature reader does not close the book. The mature reader turns the last page, experiences the ending for better or for worse, and then draws a conclusion as to whether it was a well-told story.
I'm really talking here, of course, about the new Prince of Persia, which has... an ending. Just the one. There is no alternate ending; if you play the game to its conclusion, there is only one manner in which things can be resolved. This ending is not to everyone's tastes.
The thing is, the game starts to roll the credits a good five to ten minutes before the actual ending, but then stops. Judging from the blogosphere, a good many people, sensing what is coming next, choose to take that as the end of the game and stop there. Not because they've stopped enjoying the gameplay, but because they want to pretend that what comes next njever happened. They feel it's a better story if they stop there.
Another example is Shadow of the Colossus. Throughout that game, the player is given the sense that what they are doing is wrong, and that with each colossus defeated they are making things palpably worse for everyone concerned, including their own character. Some people choose to stop playing before finishing the quest - again, not through dissatisfaction with the gameplay, but because of a desire to avert the otherwise inescapable tragic conclusion.
That's wrong, isn't it? It's like making an alternate ending to Death of a Salesman where nobody dies and everybody rediscovers their lost love of life. The point is the tragedy. The point is the experience.
I say this, but then I look at Braid. That is a fantastically deep and moving game, right through the main story and concluding with the final level. And that's what I thought for six months or so, until I found out about the bonus stars. Suddenly it was revealed I hadn't finished the game, and the new ending turned everything into a contrived mess about nuclear physics.
I am quite happy to say there are no bonus stars. I am quite happy to take the ending which I liked, and ignore everything that came afterwards. It is an exponentially better game this way. I see this as no different to loving the original Dune novels and ignoring the Kevin J. Anderson / Brian Herbert rubbish which has come out recently.
How do I reconcile this? On the one hand, finishing a story early is deliberately refusing to engage with the authorial vision, and denies you the right to claim to have genuinely experienced the work. On the other hand, a little wilfull blindness can allow you to perceive art and quality where otherwise there may only have been mediocrity.
NB: No spoilers please!