Bioshock Infinite

Mikhail Gershovich turned me onto the trailer for BioShock Infinite the other day, and I haven’t gotten this excited about the narrative implications of a game since the first BioShock, or even Half-Life 2 (which I talked about here). Where else can you see labelled dead capitalists and experience a bloody socialist revolution  as a Pinkerton goon? The implications of such a vision are even remarkable during our moment wherein such an alternative history of labor politics in the US couldn’t feel more fantastical. For me, the evolution of video game narrative (particularly in the first-person shooter which is my favorite genre) is one of the most amazing things to witness its attention to film, design, writing, and space—deeply influenced by the history of cinematic technique but still only in its infancy in terms of imagining itself. If you are fascinated by the emergence of video game narrative and have 15 minutes, the following preview is well worth a watch.

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5 Responses to Bioshock Infinite

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I’m anxious to dive into this video. When I visited Bryan Alexander in May, we had an engrossing discussion of how the original Bioshock and Halflife introduce people to the rules and environment of a game by starting them right in it (e.g. the first person viewpoint of a baby in Bioshock)- it is some of the most elegant design of learning materials I have seen.

  2. aallingh says:

    I haven’t played Bioshock, but in Fall Out 3 you start the game when your character is born. Bright light, dad’s voice, disorientation, then you’re prompted for character appearance, for when you grow up. It’s a pretty interesting way to start a game, walking around as a toddler, flashing forward into playing as a middle schooler, to a teenager. A lot more creative than “Quick backstory text, what attributes do you want? Oh here are some buttons, good luck.”

  3. Alan Levine says:

    That’s right, it is Fall Out when you start as a child; Bioshock was where you start in the water after the plane crash, right?

  4. Reverend says:

    Exactly, BioShock is the plane crash, and I have yet to play Fall Out 3—but it isa on my list. On of the crazy things about Bioshock for me (and many, many others) was the very basic ethical choice it forces you into—what these games are doing for narrative as a means to teaching you how to playing them is remarkable indeed, and we do have a ton to learn from them. Just imagine if all the AI figures in these worlds were us riffing upon a script that builds in the idea of complete unpredictability. Now that would truly be an awesome educational game ;).

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