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Irrational Has Faith In The Intellect Of Gamers

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Recently, in a twitter exchange with VG247's Brenna Hiller, Irrational Games's Ken Levine denied that players need "dumbed-down" narratives. "With some of the stuff we're doing on Infinite, I need to dumb it down for me," he said, adding that "Frankly, in their shoes, I don't know if I would have written a check for [BioShock 1]. 'Trust me! The kids love objectivism!'" It was a short sort of impromptu interview, the whole of which can be read at VG247's website.

It may seem annoying to harp on about the wonders of BioShock, but he original stole my little-boy heart, not only because of its immersive atmosphere and stunning art design, but because of its intelligent and mature exploration of Objectivism -- which, incidentally, I find to be a detestable ideology. BioShock Infinite looks as though it's going to be similarly high-minded, primarily tackling the topics of jingoism, xenophobia, and American Exceptionalism. Being a massive politics nerd, as well as anything else that shakes up the often-stale world of video games, color me intrigued. I'm also a fan of all things dystopian, so the work done by the folks over at Irrational Games has done nothing if not tickle my fancy. I've always had a fascination with absolutist ideology -- those in my close circle of friends know full well my interest in all things Soviet -- and the extremes to which it can be taken, compelling otherwise-rational individuals to accept even the most vicious of notions as not only rational, but desirable. More fascinating is the slow unraveling of these systems -- their inevitable degeneration in the face of their inherent contradictions -- as illustrated by political movements such as Communism and Fascism. Despite the tragedy of their respective histories -- the horrific crimes of the Holocaust are well known; slightly less well known are historical tragedies like Stalin's Great Purge and Mao's Great Leap Forward -- the twisted drive with which they pushed their agendas lends itself well to storytelling, and easily holds the audience's interest.
Hopefully other developers will take a page from Irrational's playbook, providing games that are as stimulating intellectually as they are viscerally. With BioShock Infinite (and Deus Ex: Human Revolution exploring the ethics of transhumanism), I'm sure I'll be a happy little nerd for a good while.

3 Comments

Caracticus said:

"Dumbing down the narrative" is why Roger Ebert thinks (thought?) video games are not art.

BioShock and Heavy Rain etc. are reasons why Roger Ebert is (was?) wrong.

g_whiz said:

Fantastic entry, sir. I could read about the socio-political implications of Bioshock all day. The Jingoist "anti-foreigner" sentiment mixed in the themes of the current story are fasinating...and oddly, sadly reminiscent of the anti-Islam/Hispanic/gay -"culture war" social conservatives seem to be concerning themselves with.

Shin Gallon said:

Frankly they had my money at "floating steampunk sky city", but the thought of the minds behind Bioshock dissecting jingoism and xenophobia (which have sadly become hallmarks of conservatism in America). But if they do as good a job tearing those a new one as they did Objectivism (which also find a detestable ideology), I'll enjoy the story as much for it's subtext as much as I will it's setting.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Shin Gallon on Irrational Has Faith In The Intellect Of Gamers: Frankly they had my money at "floating steampunk sky city", but the thought of the minds behind Bioshock dissecting jingoism...

g_whiz on Irrational Has Faith In The Intellect Of Gamers: Fantastic entry, sir. I could read about the socio-political implications of Bioshock all day. The Jingoist "anti-foreigner" sentiment mixed in...

Caracticus on Irrational Has Faith In The Intellect Of Gamers: "Dumbing down the narrative" is why Roger Ebert thinks (thought?) video games are not art. BioShock and Heavy Rain etc....

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