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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Mattsworknamejob they wanted without the unions getting involved. The problem is, it has some unexpected side effects, like the ones Info mentioned07/07/2015 - 8:49am
MattsworknameThe problem being, right to work states exsist specificly as a counter to Unions, as the last 20 or so years have shown, the unions have been doing this countries economoy NO favors. The right to work states came into being to allow people to work any07/07/2015 - 8:49am
Infophile(cont'd) discriminatory. This can only be done for protected classes which are outlined in law (race, sex, religion, ethnicity everywhere, sexual orientation in some states). So, a gay person could be fired because they're gay and have no recourse there.07/07/2015 - 7:27am
Infophile@Goth: See here: http://www.snopes.com/politics/sexuality/firedforbeinggay.asp for a good discussion on it. Basically, the problem is that in the US, most states allow at will firing, and it's the burden of the fired person to prove the firing was ...07/07/2015 - 7:25am
Goth_SkunkAssuming that's true, then that is a fight worth fighting for.07/07/2015 - 6:58am
Yuuri@ Goth_Skunk, in many states being gay is not a protected status akin to say race or religion. It's also in the "Right to work" states. Those are the states where one can be fired for any reason (provided it isn't a "protected" one.)07/07/2015 - 6:07am
Goth_Skunkregarded as a beacon of liberty and freedom that is the envy of the world, would not have across-the-board Human Rights laws that don't at the very least equal those of my own country.07/07/2015 - 5:47am
Goth_SkunkI find that hard to believe, Infophile. I have difficulty believing employers can *still* fire people for being gay. I would need to see some evidence that this is fact, because as a Canadian, I can't believe that the United States,07/07/2015 - 5:46am
InfophileFor that matter, even women don't yet have full legal equality with men. The US government still places limits on the positions women can serve in the military. And that's just the legal side of things - the "culture wars" are more than just laws.07/07/2015 - 5:43am
InfophileAnd that's just LGB issues. Get ready for an incoming battle on rights for trans* people. And then after that, a battle for poly people.07/07/2015 - 5:41am
InfophileA battle's been won. In many states employers can still fire people for being gay. And in many states, parents can force their children into reparative therapy to try to "fix" being gay. Those battles still need to be fought.07/07/2015 - 5:40am
Goth_Skunkand now they've switched to battles that don't need to be fought.07/07/2015 - 5:37am
Goth_SkunkIn my opinion, it was the final legal hurdle denying homosexual couples final and recognized statuses as eligible spouses. But even though this war's been won, some people are still too keen to keep fighting battles,07/07/2015 - 5:28am
Goth_SkunkAnd it's a trend I don't mind seeing continue. Same-sex marriage was at long-last made definitively legal by SCOTUS, and it's about time. I'm glad it's finally happened, as it was desperately needed.07/07/2015 - 5:25am
Infophile(cont'd) It started long before that. Perhaps the American Civil War comes to mind?)07/07/2015 - 3:59am
InfophileOn Goth's linked article: Historically speaking, there may have been cycles, but remember that the left has steadily gained ground. Is there a good reason to expect that to be different this time? (Oh, and no, Culture War 1.0 wasn't with the Baby Boomers.07/07/2015 - 3:59am
Goth_Skunk"THIS VIDEO IS PROBLEMATIC:" About Social Justice Warriors, by J.T. Sexkik. Excellent video. http://ow.ly/PgGnD07/07/2015 - 3:22am
Goth_Skunkand repeats the cycle, over and over. Presently, the far left culture is overreaching, and is about to lose their stranglehold on power.07/06/2015 - 10:01pm
Goth_SkunkAs far back as the 60's, according to the writers. The culture war moves in cycles from one generation to the next. The left rebels against the right, takes over, overreaches to the point where the right rebels right back, takes over, overreaches ->07/06/2015 - 9:58pm
MattsworknameGoth, what "Comming overreach" , the media and goverment have been overreaching for years07/06/2015 - 9:34pm
 

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