The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

August 18, 2010 -

An interesting post on Game | Life report (called "BioShock Infinite’s Vision of a Nazified America") takes a closer look at BioShock Infinite in an attempt to ascertain what the political message and creepy undertones Irrational has employed for its latest BioShock game. Interestingly, the topic and the underlying settings of the game seems to be focused on the turn-of-the-century proliferation of beliefs (and subsequent laws) based on "eugenics," which is described by this Wikipedia entry as "the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans with the aim of improving the species."

Of course there's more to it than that, and sifting through that Wikipedia entry on a subject I don't have a lot of familiarity with, proved intriguing and mildly horrifying. The popularity of eugenics in the world in the early 1900's is staggering, but some extremely bad PR courtesy of Nazi Germany and the subsequent Nuremberg trials nixed future implementation in America - thankfully. Sadly some laws managed to stay on the books in states all across the country well into the 80's.

Still, during those trials, the Germans said that America's implementation of these practices are what inspired them to implement activities that significantly contributed to the Holocaust, and to the death of "inferior beings" like mental patients. As abhorrent as this all sounds, many facets of what the Germans did was practiced in America - including racist beliefs about inter-racial marriage, racial purity and the sterilization of supposed genetic inferior beings. It's our sad and little-known history.

So what does all this have to do with BioShock Infinite? Well, you need only look at some of the promotional art from the game to see that the fictional 1912 town of Columbia has some dark language that points back to beliefs based on eugenics.

Examples include a poster of a mother holding a perfect baby while putting her hand out to deny an imperfect one with the caption “Burden not Columbia with you chaff.” Another is a mock (Port of Columbia Immigration Authority) tag that was attached to bags given away at the BioShock Infinite premiere New York City that the author says "illustrate(s) the racism at the heart of Columbia."

While the author mentions "American exceptionalism," it seems like, from a completely uninformed opinion (based, admittedly, on very little information as well) that BioShock Infinite will play on the dark side of that concept.

I think the biggest hurdle the game faces - just like the multiplayer in Medal of Honor that lets you play as Al-Qaeda soldiers - is that gamers won't be able to get past the controversial and decidedly mature material the game presents.

While the subject matter is dark and disturbing, it is also a sign that video game storytelling and subject matter is maturing. Wouldn't it be nice if an "M" rating meant more than just a measure of a game's graphical violennce and sexually suggestive content?

Source: Game | Life


Comments

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

I said it at Bitmob and I'll say it here: we've seen all of one preview, and to start hypothesizing on the game's content at this point is a wholly fruitless endeavour.

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Fangamer

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Fangamer

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

Glad to see Bioshock returning to its quasi-fascist or nutcase-libertarian roots. I just couldn't get all that motivated to kill communists in Bioshock 2. Fascists I can kill all day.

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

I don't know about you, but I could kill commies all day. Maybe it's a cuban-american thing. Commie=Castro=KILL!!! ;)

 

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

"While the subject matter is dark and disturbing, it is also a sign that video game storytelling and subject matter is maturing. Wouldn't it be nice if an "M" rating meant more than just a measure of a game's graphical violennce and sexually suggestive content?"

Kind of makes you think that one day videogame awards might carry the weight of emmys, right? Some game that compete's with films in the way of plot?

 

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

I imagine that someday BioShock will be remembered historically as one of those games that pushed the medium into the serious commentary/plot realm.... not because it was the first or only one, but because they did it so well and managed to engage even non gamers in the story.

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

Some of the stuff Sounds like Glenn beck Wrote the story of Bioshock infinte(Although he Railed on such content beforehand)

Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

America has just became its own version of the Jerry Springer Show after a bizarre moment in Florida involving a carnival worker.

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

I'm pretty sure Glenn Beck (and other media opinionists, if they catch wind of this game) are going to freak out about this game.  I can already see the backlash when they see all the Red, White, and Blue, and the crazed extremist rants about "guns and liberty and purity" from glowing-eyed madmen. An "American Utopia" gone wrong, and you the player have to shoot and blow up everything in your path. 

Someone pass ol' Beck a box of tissues, because he's going to be a big weeping ball of rage as he describes how this game teaches our children Anti-Americanism (despite the game being rated M for an adult audience).

Re: The Politics Inside BioShock Infinite

When Wired did thier preivew article, there was actually quite a bit of backlash from some posters about how this game is part of a big anti-american conspiracy to demonize right thinking people.

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
 

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