Bioshock Infinite: ‘Have we gone too far?’ 16/10/2013



For my essay, I will select a cultural artefact and write a comprehensive analysis about it. I will be descriptive, analytical and interpretive the artefact in order to explain not only about the game itself but to voice my opinion through facts stated within the game.

The game I have chosen to discuss is Bioshock Infinite which was developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games and released on the 26th of March 2013.  Bioshock Infinite is the 3rd instalment in its series, as previously to this game was Bioshock and Bioshock 2. Bioshock Infinite is very different to its predecessors as it does not follow the same distinct storyline as the other two games in the series but shows similar aspects and referencing in order to class it as a Bioshock game. The game is about a protagonist called Booker DeWitt who ventures through a ‘Utopia’ which happens to be a floating castle in the sky called Columbia. He is looking to find a young lady called ‘Elizabeth’ in order to hand her over in order to pay off a debt, but all is not what it appears to be.


The main setting of Bioshock Infinite is within this ‘Utopia’ which is displayed in all ‘dream’ like colours (Blue and white shades) to suggest this is a heavenly place to be. This is backed up by the environment being a castle in the sky.  The environment is seen as aesthetically pleasing as well as surreal. While this is not actually the case, as within the game the characters have created a Dystopia as they are unpleasant, cruel and considerably racist.

There is a wide spectrum of constant factors of the 19th century within this game but my main focus is to the theme of racism. In this ‘Utopia’, you are asked to throw a ball at an interracial couple. This current scene is iconic as it happens really early within the game, and was used to signify how bad racism was within the 19th century. This really does dive into history as the game is set in the year 1893, back in an era where coloured folk were seen as unequal and unworthy by that society.  Looking at the background of this photo, the ‘set’ was set up like a wedding but what is most notable is the two ‘monkeys’ in the background. The reason this is notable to mention is for a large portion of history, coloured people have always been compared to monkeys and for some, this gave them an excuse to use them for slavery due to comparing them to animals, which again were ‘unequal’ to the white society. All these factors are deemed reasonable enough for this white male (within the picture) to be abused publicly and out cased from society for having an interracial relationship.


I believe that the artists who created the game intentionally wanted to show what that era was really like on a historical and social level by introducing themes of racism and show how far the concept of an ‘ideal white Christian world’ were taken. Although the artists chose to show this in a strong, blunt way which could have been taken the wrong way by the general public today, I still believe this was an amazing display of what history was really like. Making people’s heads turn and shocked over how the game decided to display this was a great idea as it allows us to face and accept what history was like not only for the ‘upper white class’ but to consider every aspect including those who were ‘shunned’. It allowed us to consider how our previous generations on a whole had acted and allowed us to stop making those same mistakes again. Making a comparison to other games on the market, for example GTA V, we are beginning to explore stepping out of societies comfort zone in regards to themes of violence, sexism and racism. In this modern society, we need to ask ourselves ‘Have we gone too far? And is this really acceptable within our current society and culture?’


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