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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NeenekoJust look at how interviews are handled. Media tends to pit someone who is at best a journalist, but usually entertainer, against an expert, and it is presented and percieved as if they are equals.10/25/2014 - 7:38am
Neeneko@MC - Focusing on perpetrator does nothing for prevention, the media and public lack the domain knowledge and event details to draw any useful conclusions. All we get are armchair risk experts.10/25/2014 - 7:36am
Neeneko@AE - no name or picture, I like it.10/25/2014 - 7:34am
PHX Corp@MW and AE The news media needs to stop promoting the Shooters. period10/25/2014 - 7:16am
Andrew EisenWhen I write about these massacres, I don't use the shooter's name or picture. I'm not saying everyone has to play it that way but that's how I prefer to do it.10/25/2014 - 12:44am
Andrew EisenYep, it's why the news media stopped spotlighting numbnuts who run out on the field during sporting events.10/25/2014 - 12:01am
Matthew Wilsonin media research its called the copycat effect. it simply says that if the news covers one mass shooting shooter, it increases the likelihood of another person going on a mass shooting.10/25/2014 - 12:00am
Andrew EisenAgreed. It bugs me that I know the names, faces and personal histories of a bunch of mass shooters but I couldn't tell you the name of or recognize a photo of a single one of their victims.10/24/2014 - 11:51pm
AvalongodAgree with Quiknkold. @Mecha...if that worked we would have figured out how to prevent these long ago.10/24/2014 - 11:32pm
MechaCrashUnfortunately, you have to focus on the perpetrator to figure out the whys so you can try to prevent it from happening again.10/24/2014 - 10:55pm
quiknkoldpoor girl. poor victims. rather focus on them then the shooter. giving too much thought to the monster takes away from the victims.10/24/2014 - 10:15pm
Andrew EisenFor what it's worth, early reports are painting the motive as "he was pissed that a particular girl wouldn't date him."10/24/2014 - 10:12pm
quiknkoldwell then I suck as a man cause I ask for help when necessary :P10/24/2014 - 10:07pm
Technogeek(That said, mostly I was making the smartass evopsych comment because your post seemed like the kind of just-so story that has come to dominate 99% of its usage.)10/24/2014 - 10:04pm
TechnogeekHell, Liam Neeson built his modern career around it. Cultural factors likely play a far greater role than you appear willing to admit.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
TechnogeekSeriously, though, the idea of "because women are protectors and that's why they never commit school shootings" is, at best, grossly overreductive. There's nothing inherently feminine about being willing to kill in order to protect one's offspring.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
MechaCrashThe "toxic masculinity" thing refers to how you have to SUCK IT UP AND BE A MAN because seeking help is seen as weakness, which means you suck at manliness, so it builds and builds and builds until something finally snaps.10/24/2014 - 10:01pm
quiknkoldthere, I'm done. And thats what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldand I am not spouting Evopsych, technogeek. tbh I never heard the phrase till you said it. I'm going off my observations.10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldmoreover, the guy who did this isnt even white. He was native american according to the news report I read. Also that he went for a specific target. That's a much different picture than a certain Sandy Hook guy who will not be named10/24/2014 - 9:53pm
 

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