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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E. Zachary KnightTeachers unions are just as bad as police unions, except of course you are far less likely to be killed by a teacher on duty than you are a cop. But they also protect bad teachers from being fired.07/07/2015 - 6:29pm
E. Zachary KnightGoth, so you agree they are still union members. Thankfully we have a first ammendment that protects people from being forced to join groups they don't support (in most cases any way.)07/07/2015 - 6:27pm
E. Zachary KnightAh, police unions. The reason why cops can't get fired when they beat a defenseless mentally ill homeless person to death. Or when they throw a grenade into a baby's crib. Or when theykill people they were called in to help not hurt themselves.07/07/2015 - 6:26pm
Goth_SkunkeZeek: Non-union employees have no right to attend meetings or union convention/AGM, or influence policy. The only time they get to vote is whether or not to strike.07/07/2015 - 6:24pm
Infophile(cont'd) about non-union police officers being given hell until they joined the union.07/07/2015 - 4:58pm
InfophileParadoxically, the drive in the US to get rid of unions seems to have left only the most corrupt surviving. They seem to be the only ones that can find ways to browbeat employees into joining when paying dues isn't mandatory. I've heard some stories ...07/07/2015 - 4:57pm
Matthew WilsonI am old school on this. I believe its a conflict of interest to have public sector unions. that being said, I do not have a positive look on unions in general.07/07/2015 - 3:59pm
TechnogeekWhat's best for the employee tends to be good for the employer; other way around, not so much. So long as that's the case, there's going to be a far stronger incentive for management to behave in such a way that invites retalitation than for the union to.07/07/2015 - 3:10pm
TechnogeekTeachers' unions? State legislatures. UAW? Just look at GM's middle management.07/07/2015 - 3:05pm
TechnogeekIn many ways it seems that the worse a union tends to behave, the worse that the company's management has behaved in the past.07/07/2015 - 3:02pm
james_fudgeCharity starts at home ;)07/07/2015 - 2:49pm
james_fudgeSo mandatory charity? That sounds shitty to me07/07/2015 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightGoth, if Union dues are automatically withdrawn, then there is no such thing as a non-union employee.07/07/2015 - 2:38pm
Goth_Skunka mutually agreed upon charity instead.07/07/2015 - 2:33pm
Goth_Skunkyou enjoy the benefits of working in a union environment. If working in a union is against your religious beliefs or just something you wholeheartedly object to, dues will still be deducted from your pay, but you can instruct that they be directed towards07/07/2015 - 2:33pm
Goth_SkunkBasically, if you are employed in a business where employees are represented by a union for the purposes of collective bargaining, whether or not you are a union member, you will have union dues deducted from your pay, since regardless of membership,07/07/2015 - 2:32pm
Goth_SkunkIt's something that has existed in Canada since 1946. You can read more on it here: http://ow.ly/PiHWR07/07/2015 - 2:27pm
Goth_SkunkSee, we have something similar in Canada, called a "Rand Employee." This is an employee who benefits from the collective bargaining efforts of a union, despite not wanting to be a part of it for whatever reason.07/07/2015 - 2:22pm
Matthew Wilson@info depends on the sector. for example, have you looked at how powerful unions are in the public sector? I will make the argument they have too much power in that sector.07/07/2015 - 12:39pm
InfophileIt's easy to worry about unions having too much power and causing harm. The odd thing is, why do people seem to worry about that more than the fact that business-owners can have too much power and do harm, particularly at a time when unions have no power?07/07/2015 - 12:31pm
 

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