Bioshock Infinite

In Alexander R. Galloway’s Gaming Essays on Algorithmic Culture, he discusses the origin of the most popular video game perspective, first-person shooter. This subjective shot was originated from classic movies such as Jaws, Elephant, and multiple Alfred Hitchcock films. This perspective is shot through the character’s viewpoint, giving the visual of what one would ordinarily see in front of them. The purpose is to join the eyesight of the character with that of the viewer and by giving off the impression that the camera is placed in the character’s skull. This cinematic perception molded the visual style of first-person shooter, displaying only what one would see in front of them. The screen shows the character’s hands holding a weapon of choice, preventing the character’s physical appearance from being distinguished. With this, the first-person player witnesses everything the protagonist witnesses as if they were them.
In March of 2013, 2K Marin, Irrational Games, and Human Head Studios released an addition to the Bioshock collection, known as Bioshock Infinite. The game uses first-person shooter, enabling the player to witness a new world through the eyes of protagonist, Booker Dewitt. The performer can seldom see Booker’s appearance through faint reflections but can see the surrounding environment through his perceptiveness, creating a key example of the subjective shot discussed by Galloway. Because the player cannot see the character’s exterior appearance continuously, they are left to conjure up an image of what they believe the character to look like. This requires the player to employ their imagination to gather various ideas of the character’s graphics.
The perspective created by Irrational Games allows the player to spectate what Galloway calls “Mental Affect”. Mental affect is when the viewer sees the optical outlook of a drowsy, drugged, or intoxicated person. In order to increase Booker’s chance of success, food and ammunition are left out throughout the game. Among these, wine and whisky are placed out for Booker to drink. If Booker drinks too much of the alcohol, the screen becomes blurry and sways left to right to represent what happens to Booker’s vision when he is drunk. Another mental affect is when Booker’s vision slowly fades to black when he comes close to death.
A popular quote from the first Bioshock game created is: “We all make choices. But in the end, our choices make us.” A quote from the Bioshock Infinite is: “There is always a lighthouse, always a man, and always a city.” To anyone who has never played these games, the quotes make little to no sense, but to one who has completed the collection, they make plenty of sense. A theme stringed along in the Bioshock collection is that when a person makes a choice, the choice they make will always affect their path on life. After the game is completed, the player is left to think about what choices they have made that have altered their path. Ian Bogost, author of How to Do Things with Video Games, writes about procedural games being artistic because they “cause the player to reflect on one or more themes during or after play,” Bogost defends videogames in the controversy of whether they should be considered art or not within the first chapter of his book, (Bogost 14). He supports the idea that video games can be art, if they use explicit challenges that have significant meaning within them to lead the player to undergo self-evaluation.
Bioshock Infinite has all the requirements to meet the criteria of an average first-person shooter, rated a mature game due to its constant resort to guns and violence, even involvement of war. But, what separates Bioshock from games like Call of Duty or Halo is its hidden meaning and in depth plot. The game is centered during 1912, within a unique and dynamic city that floats in the sky, named Columbia. The city is founded by Zachary Hale Comstock, who calls himself a prophet of God and built Columbia as a sanctuary for followers of the Lord. Comstock created the city in the sky to be close to the heavens but plans to destroy the land below, starting with New York, to expand Columbia’s reign. Booker’s original mission was to rescue Comstock’s daughter, Elizabeth, from her imprisonment since birth, but finds a greater mission among his journey with Elizabeth. He and Elizabeth plan to remove Comstock’s existence through Elizabeth’s ability to open portals into other dimensions and enter other worlds. These worlds each consist of different events happening within Columbia. Booker and Elizabeth learn these worlds arise as lighthouses and form from the outcomes of the decisions Booker makes. For example, if Booker’s decision to rescue Elizabeth is successful, a lighthouse forms holding a world where Booker’s mission was effective, but there is also the formation of another lighthouse holding a world where Booker’s mission was unsuccessful. There are thousands of lighthouses that are created from Booker’s numerous decisions within Columbia, essentially creating the quote that there is always a lighthouse, a man, a city.
The connotation of Bioshock Infinite is to explore the idea of what happens when we choose one choice over another. It is not a form of game art that is displayed in galleries because it does not use art in a way of appearance, such as through graphics and design, but through in depth thought of decisions that create and destroy us. It pushes the player’s mind to examine their previous choices and consider how different their life would be if they chose otherwise. Ian Bogost reminds the reader that the focus of a procedural video game is different from ordinary videogames because it was not created to grant the player gratitude after completion of the game, but introspection.
The principals taken from Galloway’s and Bogost’s text provide a deeper analysis to video games, beyond what the average eye intakes. Those who invented a video game specifically planned to use either first or third person shooter to heighten the effects and plot of the game, just like how Industrial Games used first-person in Bioshock. Also, there is more than meets the eye with most video games. Some are used to make the player have revelations about life. The video game industry has quickly grown and advanced to become one of the many effective ways to reach out to the younger age group to remind them that there a lot that needs to be fixed in our world today.


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