2KBoston’s BioShock came out in 2007. In the nearly ten years that have followed, mainstream, big-budget videogames haven’t changed as much as might be expected. This isn’t all that surprising, given that BioShock is the rare game that manages to marry (relatively) lofty narrative ambitions with the sort of mechanics and storytelling style that appeal to a wide-scale audience. It’s a summer blockbuster with something to say–serious enough about delivering its message that it gives an aura of importance while also full of the kind of action and plot twists that make an experience engaging on an immediate level.
Given this, it makes a lot of sense that BioShock casts such a long shadow.
Continue reading BioShock, Again
Please finish playing Bioshock Infinite before reading. This article contains plot details.
“Our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilizations, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.”
– L. Frank Baum, Editor of The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer/author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on January 3, 1891
In the last days of the year 1890 the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army massacred approximately 300 unarmed Lakota Natives (including some 200 women and children) in what would be one of the last in a long line of violent encounters between colonial and Native Americans. The Wounded Knee Massacre, in its encapsulation of the nascent U.S’ historic racism and unchecked brutality toward the land’s Native population, is one of the most indelible stains on the complicated tapestry of American identity.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Irrational Games, after exploring the inevitable horrors of unregulated capitalism in Bioshock, would come to another such instrumental aspect of the American psyche in their latest release, Bioshock Infinite.
Continue reading Booker DeWitt and the Guilt of a Nation
My first experience with a Bioware game was Dragon Age: Origins. At the time I didn’t know much of anything about the studio, what their “return to roots” project meant to people or, really, what I was getting into at all. I just read a lot of really good things about a game — namely, the amount of narrative choice it offered players — and thought it would be worth trying out. Now, having played two Mass Effects, two Fallouts and Skyrim, I’ve gone back into the first Dragon Age with, maybe, a bit more of an understanding of how to approach these kind of massively customizable RPGs (MCRPG?) and a better grasp on how to play off their shortcomings.
In short, I’ve learned how to communicate with a videogame by speaking its own language.
Continue reading Communication Breakdown in Dragon Age: Origins