Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious Objections

April 17, 2013 -

Valve has refunded the money of a man who says that a certain choice in Bioshock Infinite goes against his religious beliefs. We won't mention the specifics of the choice beyond saying that it relates to a Christian religious rite, so as to avoid giving any spoilers. Breen Malmberg, who says he is a Christian, found the choice to be unacceptable.

"I am basically being forced to make a choice between committing extreme blasphemy by my actions in choosing to accept this 'choice' or forced to quit playing the game before it even really starts," Malmberg told Kotaku.

"Of course I cannot hold true to my beliefs and also commit this act, so I am therefor[e] forced to not play the game," he added.

Malmberg later wrote a letter to Valve asking for a refund because he bought the game on Steam. Valve gave him the refund, according to Malmberg.

Malmberg's biggest problem with the game is that the choice presented is no choice at all. You either commit to the act or you cannot move forward.

"The difference here is that you are forced to make a decision that violates those beliefs in order to continue with the game--which is not something I have run into very often," he added.

Valve has not publicly commented on this story, nor has Bioshock Infinite developer Irrational Games.

Source: GameSpot


Comments

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

Good thing he could not get past that part! The mockery only gets more salient. I loved the stinging way they presented traditional American "values" in their proper horrible light!

Still, his refund seems reasonable, especially so soon into the game.

Too bad the plot fails to follow it's own logic and seems to flail about. It presents many many interesting plot threads and potential societal commentary that could have been woven into a fine tapestry, but just seems to hot glue a couple of them together to end it... I really wanted to like it too. (but I can't bring myself to hate it either.)

Just don't think too hard on the plot and enjoy the art design and gun battles!

 

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"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." -H.L.Mencken

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

If you haven't yet, try to finish the game. If not, read/watch spoilers on the ending and/or try to read/view commentaries about it. It's not about religion. It's not about white supremacy. It's not about nationalism. It's not about a lot of the themes that the game brings up because that is the distraction part of the trick. And that's what it really is. A magician trick. The reveal is what you should leave with, not the hocus pocus preceding. There is indeed one moral in the whole game, about one man's ability to change the world and it might not be the one you expect. The rest is naught but gameplay mechanics (fun or not, you decide) and setup.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

I have already finished the game and have never insinuated that the game is only about the bigoted strains of American culture. That tapers off really quickly, which makes me wonder why all of these various political and cultural ideas are floated about when they plan to do nothing with them. It smacks of controversial and “edgy” content for no other sake but to be edgy and controversial.
I would have liked to explore those ideas, but as you said, they are not really the point of the game. Which I guess is that some people, that one man,  make psychotic choices when they feel bad for themselves. (I’m really trying not to put spoilers in…)

Magic trick? Not a chance. It’s just too many unrealized ideas shot gunned into the plot. The ending could have left me with a cathartic release that few games could achieve, but the story really did not warrant it, so I’m left with “meh”. The character’s motives, when they are revealed, are often out of character for how they had been presented previously. Tears don’t cut it as an explanation.

The game reaches for the stars and achieves much, which only makes the blatant flaws shine all the more brightly. (I still gave it a 6/10 on metacritic, so I don’t outright hate it.)

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"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." -H.L.Mencken

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

If he was offended 5 minutes in then I think it was a wise idea to seek a refund. Personally I don't feel the need to be symbolically slapped in the face repeatedly for my beliefs either, within the context of a game, movie, or novel I don't find it fun or enjoyable either. While I might have no problem doing something in the context of a game, it would not be entertainment.

Personally I can't think of a game I've stopped playing for this reason, but I can think of many that I would never start.

I'm curious about those who don't object to it though. Is it because they don't agree in principle? or simply because it was their principles which weren't insulted.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

It's a straight case of accepting that you are not the video game character, and you don't live in the video game character's world, and that the video game itself is a vehicle for telling a story. Likewise, I read plenty of books where characters have different faiths, beliefs, systems of moral values, and ditto for movies. It is, in part, a big reason why I even invest myself into fictional worlds, because I can see beyond my small hemisphere of real life experience through these portrayals of other people and places, fictional or not. Accepting that a video game or a book or a movie is not real is pretty critical when you consider how you often must accept that acts of violence are normal for these worlds.

It broadens the mind to explore beliefs and worlds and value systems that aren't 100% your own, and people of genuinely strong faith don't feel threatened by doing so. I don't have a great deal of respect for people who plug their fingers in their ears and shut their eyes when faced with something that doesn't adhere exactly to their faith. If they can't be tolerant of fictional experiences then it's a sure sign that they will be lacking tolerance for the very real experiences of other people, cultures and faiths in real life.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

So if this was indeed about the baptism scene, which is roughly 5 minutes into the game, and as said, not really a spoiler now...

 

How intolerant do you have to be that a depiction in a video game of another religion's practices offends you?

 

Good thing he didn't keep playing.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

This sets a dangerous (and stupid) precedent.  Irrational made no secret about the religious content of the game, and moreover, this nutcase has a problem with a virtual baptism but not virtually slaughtering hundreds/thousands of people?  Insanity.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

I once got a refund for a game from EB Games. True Crime: Streets of LA. I thought the game was of poor quality and the controls were terrible. But now it seems getting refunds is a big deal for some reason.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

The controls are certainly weird but I loved the game and thought it was a lot of fun to play.  I was pretty happy with the sequel too, even though it broke just as much as it fixed.

Damn shame they didn't port Sleeping Dogs to the Wii U, I really would have liked to play it.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

I certainly don't begrudge the gentleman his beliefs and I have no issue with his decision not to play the game but I'll admit, I don't understand it.

"Of course I cannot hold true to my beliefs and also commit this act, so I am therefor[e] forced to not play the game."

That's the thing though.  It's a video game.  You're not actually committing the act so I don't understand why it bothered him so much (and again, I'm not looking down my nose at him for being bothered by it).  I'm certain he knew that 20 minutes later he'd be murdering every person he came across with a combination of bullets, fireballs and flesh-eating crows.  I don't understand why he'd be cool with that but not the baptism.

And again, I want to make it very clear that my confusion does not mean I think he's a stupid or irrational person.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

"I don't understand why he'd be cool with that but not the baptism."

I'd say that this is the very definition of irrational. But then, that's par for the course in this country; everything offends somebody's sensibilities... except violence.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

This makes sense. The player made a logical and impassioned plea as to why they can't continue to play the game and Valve removed it from their account and refunded the money. And since the Steam DRM will confirm the game can't be used again, there is no infringement argument to make against giving a refund.

I think the only thing that surprises me about this story is that the player got a CSR that was both sympathetic and empowered to actually do something. 

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

Did or did not the game deliver the promised content? 

Compare: you go to a movie in the theater and it is precisely as advertised. The movie, however, features a scene you find objectionable, though entirely within the style and thematic scope of the film. Do you have the right to get your money back after the movie is over?

I found Duke Nukem Forever to be artistically, ludically, and morally reprehensible. My response? I stopped playing.

 

It is also perhaps worth mentioning that also to make progress in the game you must commit murder, steal, and sell a child.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

"Do you have the right to get your money back after the movie is over?"

After it's over?  No.  10 minutes into the movie, most theaters will give you your money back or at least a ticket for another movie.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

"Compare: you go to a movie in the theater and it is precisely as advertised. The movie, however, features a scene you find objectionable, though entirely within the style and thematic scope of the film. Do you have the right to get your money back after the movie is over?"

He didn't get the refund after he finished the game. He got a refund after he stopped playing 5 minutes in. I think if you find the content of a game objectionable 5 minutes in, you are well within your rights to get a refund.

"I found Duke Nukem Forever to be artistically, ludically, and morally reprehensible. My response? I stopped playing."

And don't you just feel dumb for paying $60 for something you aren't playing and didn't enjoy when you were?

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

I'll never understand the stubborn refusal of some folk to even listen to a story where the character's experiences are different to their own, or the story's world holds different values. Small worlds, small minds . . .

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

So...  Let me get this straight.  He wanted his money back based on a depiction of a religious practice in a game, which is essentially a work of fiction?

I haven't yet finished BioShock Infinite, but from what the article describes, I'm guessing the bone of contention here was in the beginning of the game when you as Booker needs to be baptized before you can enter Columbia? (I don't think that's a spoiler at this point).  And I'm guessing Malmberg is from a Christian sect that does not practice it?

Okay, look, I'm an agnostic myself.  I wasn't completely thrilled about that particular scene either.  But here's the thing: I knew it wasn't real.  Even if it went against my own beliefs, I knew it was a work of fiction and that the developers probably had a narrative reason for putting it in there, especially seeing as how the game doesn't really give you a choice in the matter.  And besides, it wasn't like I was actually getting baptized in real life.  Faith is only as strong as you make it anyway.

My point being, I just sucked it up and went along with the game.  And it ended up in the long run not being a deal-breaker.  But if Mr. Malmberg objected to it because it tread on his oh-so-delicate sensibilities, I'm sorry, but that's his problem.  Valve shouldn't have been made to pay for it.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

"I haven't yet finished BioShock Infinite, but from what the article describes, I'm guessing the bone of contention here was in the beginning of the game when you as Booker needs to be baptized before you can enter Columbia? (I don't think that's a spoiler at this point).  And I'm guessing Malmberg is from a Christian sect that does not practice it?"

From what I read, it would seem that his particular religion does practice baptism and he felt that this particular forced story element made a mockery of something he feels is a divine institution. 

Not really sure what would offend an agnostic such as yourself but perhaps this might be an illustration: Let's say you picked up the hottest game coming out. Let's say that 5 minutes into this game, you came across a drooling madman by the name of Galileo, yes the Galileo. Before allowing you to do anything else in the game, you had to place the drooling madman Galileo in the stocks and assist in the public humiliation. Then the rest of the game played out with that as a core theme within.

Now, I am sure a thick skinned agnostic such as yourself would overlook that as a work of pure fiction and that it really would not change all the scientific advancement made possible by Galileo, but the whole time you were playing, that scene would most definitely be bugging you.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

As I said, Zach, the baptism scene did bug me a little, as I don't like the idea of being forced into a religion I want no part of.  But as I indicated, I knew it was a work of fiction, and that it was Booker getting baptized, not me.  And it probably didn't mean any more to him than it did me; seeing it only as a necessary formality and that I'd be getting around to sowing mayhem around Columbia in short order.

As for your Galileo example, it would have probably bugged me just as much.  But again, as with the aforementioned baptism scene, probably only for a bit, as I would reason the developers had a greater point in putting it there.

I've said before that there are certain artists I will not listen to or authors I will not read, such as Ted Nugent or Orson Scott Card, on principle simply because their politics or world views are diametrically opposite of mine.  But in that case, I am objecting to the creators of those works themselves rather than what they created.  There's a difference.

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

So let me get this straight...

VALVe, the company who outside of exigent circumstances (i.e.: The War Z) effectively never grants refunds and will terminate accounts for chargebacks, granted a guy a refund becayse of a religious objection?

In no way do I belittle, bemoan, decry, or mitigate the guy's claims, nor do I present them as false. But I do want to examine the scope of the potential fallout from this.

Considering what VALVe's policy has been to date, who's to say other discontent customers don't begin to use a religious objection (whether it be legitimate or false in nature) as their reasoning for wishing for a refund? Certainly if it is well written out, they may very well be granted it.

Basically, what I'm asking is what will stop quite literally everyone seeking a refund now from requesting one on religious grounds whether they be truthful or disingenuous?

----
Papa Midnight

Re: Man Gets Refund for Bioshock Infinite over Religious ...

I imagine Valve will only be accommodating to those who stop playing 20 minutes in, not those who have logged several hours and have achievements that show they played a good chunk of the game.

 

Andrew Eisen

 
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