Every week in Revelations, Jordan Ekeroth sets about to unveil the top seven links of the past week, dealing with the convergence of videogames and issues like morality, religion, and the meaning of life. This week is a compilation of thoughtful insights on Bioshock Infinite. There was a load of critical engagement with the title, and we’ve got the cream of the crop right here. Most of these articles contain spoilers.
No nuance in Infinite, only a loud and heavy hand
One of the signs of Infinite‘s quality (or at least, its claims to quality), was the vast amount of smart and often incisive criticism levelled against it. It asked to be treated as an adult, and so it was. Daniel Golding examined the games’ claims to balance both intelligence and violence, and found it severely wanting. Instead, he found a game that masqueraded as a creature sensitive to complex issues – particularly racism – but which, in reality, tried to boil complex issues down to clumsy and simplistic plot devices.
“BioShock Infinite, the game that many would hope to point to as an example of how art and subtlety might be found in expensive, mainstream videogames, sets up its moral stakes by asking the player if they would like to be a violent bigot.”
In response to the above
Ben Kuchera responded to Golding, insisting that there was a deeper, more resonant meaning to the games’ depiction of racial issues.
“I disagree that the player is asked to be either a Klan member or Lincoln in that first decision whether to throw the ball or not. The issue in this scene isn’t racism, not really. The issue is how hard it is to do the right thing when so many people are watching and expecting you to do the wrong thing.”
The only review you need to read
Tim Rogers wrote the mother of all Bioshock Infinite reviews. And it’s long. Like, several thousand words long. Yet I promise, it’s enticing all the way through in Roger’s own inimitable style. Rogers spends two “chapters” (Yes, his review has chapters. 13 of them), discussing the games’ cover art before he even touches the game itself. But seriously, the thing is good.
The end of all shooters
Michael Abbot makes a compelling case that Infinite did something significant, as it promised to push the limits of the first person shooter. It did what it promised, and yet in doing so, it laid those limits bare and showed us why the first person shooter will not be able to transcend them.
“I have a feeling that Bioshock Infinite will finally be seen as the apotheosis of the FPS genre, a culminating achievement that signals both a peak and an end… That doesn’t mean shooters are empty experiences. Not at all. It simply means that staring down the barrel of a gun as a default point of view may not leave your possibility space wide open.”
Tearing itself in pieces
If you would like to read a very pensive and eloquent take on the game, I would encourage you to read Leigh Alexander’s “Now is the best time.” She takes on the game and pays it the most respect that she can, by poking it and finding where it is squishy. Her’s were some of the most insightful opinions on the game I’ve encountered.
“A raven is disturbed from the Dickensian tableside, spores and insects circulate in the silence. As I admire it, a man in a suit and a bowler hat enters. He’s not dressed like a policeman. Who is this person, and what does he do in this place? Oh. He pulls out his gun. I shoot first. It’s the end of a story that never even began.”
Virtual baptism is way worse than virtual killing people
This one caused a bit of a stir. A Christian man who was a major fan of Bioshock 1 and Bioshock 2 purchased Infinite with full intentions of enjoying it. Until he encountered an early scene which required the main character to undergo a baptism, entering into the virtual religion of Columbia. The man told Kotaku:
“As baptism of the Holy spirit is at the center of Christianity – of which I am a devout believer – I am basically being forced to make a choice between committing extreme blasphemy by my actions in choosing to accept this ‘choice’ or forced to quit playing the game before it even really starts…”
Many commenters were quick to point out the startling nature of the fact that the man (who obviously had trouble disassociating himself from the main character) was troubled by a symbolic action, but not troubled in the slightest by the prospect of killing hundreds of other characters over the course of several hours. This was a grave concern of our’s here at Gamechurch as well.
If I may…
I felt compelled to respond with another take on the game, that from my perspective as a Christian, the game actually had some incredibly provocative (and true) things to say about the nature of Christianity.
What was the best thing that you read about Infinite? Share a link in the comments so we can all enjoy it!