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Oh. That was, ummm…Huh.

So I finished playing Bioshock Infinite. A few remarks on style, which I think I can make without absolute spoilers.

It’s set in the year 1912, alternate universe version. This is an interesting choice. Not too many shoot-’em-up video games are played to the tune of a barbershop quartet singing ragtime (“God Only Knows” – Columbia’s Gayest Quartet!). Fun Fact: I once collected 78 records; I own at least two of the tunes they played for ambient music.

And then there’s…well, the picture. I was floored by the game’s casual use of this kind of racist imagery. Lots of it. I thought there were some ideas society couldn’t revisit even in jest.

And the thing is, while racism is a running theme and it’s certainly not portrayed as a good thing, it’s also not the shown as the worst thing ever in the whole history of the world. Which, I dunno…I thought we’d collectively decided racism is the worst thing ever in the whole history of the world. It wasn’t the most important aspect of the whole game, either, which I assumed it would have to be the moment I hit the first Racially Ugly Incident.

I was so sure of this, in fact, I paused the game, scooted off to a gaming forum and asked “is the whole damn game like this?” I got answers like, “oh, it was so over the top, I didn’t take it seriously.” Hm. I thought over the top racism was the worst kind.

The game developer clearly knew this story element wasn’t going to be a big deal, and it wasn’t. Tectonic plates must have shifted somewhere.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2013, 10:48 pm

The also went after Irish, Jews and Indians. Feather Indians, not dot Indians.

Comment from Pupster
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:19 pm

not dot Indians.

Why the hell not?

I was going to say they probably didn`t have a go at the Japanese, if they wanted the game to get coded correctly.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:19 pm

I had something really stupid, but then I saw the

Man, I can’t believe you said something this stupid:

& decided to just be quietly racist to myself.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:25 pm

I know, Stark. I know. When I put this thread up, I thought, “what exactly do I expect people to say to this? And will I like that?”

On the other hand, it was a strange and interesting thing and I wanted to share.

Comment from Nina
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:33 pm

It is both strange and interesting, all right. Do only non-irish crackers play this game?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:42 pm

Well, it does make you wonder about gaming’s demographic, doesn’t it?

Comment from Nina
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:44 pm

Well, being a cracker of English and Irish descent, I’m only partially insulted.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:51 pm

Most people, in general, fit the modern, preening college-educated half-wit definition of racism. I think a lot of people are getting fed up with being bullied.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:53 pm

On the other hand, a big dose of PC in a game can really quash the willing suspension of disbelief.

Oblivion, which was the game right Skyrim in the series, featured the occasional Imperial soldier who was a sassy black women with an American accent and cornrows.

Um, no.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 7, 2013, 11:56 pm

I thought we’d collectively decided racism is the worst thing ever in the whole history of the world.

The obsession with racism was skewered by someone who commented on Charlie Rangel’s assertion that requiring photo IDs for voting is just like Selma in 1963. He noted that for Rangel, it always has to be Selma in 1963, because then he’s a hero fighting oppression, not a corrupt old hack politician.

The Left can’t let go of racism, because defeating it was their last genuine achievement.

Thus we have the YWCA, whose motto is “Eliminating racism. Empowering women.” Why racism? Why not poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, illness, crime, corruption? And why does this other issue take priority at an organization dedicated to women? Because, per Conquest’s Second Law, “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”

It’s pretty much a universal fact that the staff of the organization for X will be well to the left of the membership or the line personnel. It’s true for unions, churches, charities, colleges and universities, professional associations…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2013, 12:06 am

It’s something we think about a lot, Rich. We don’t have kids and we’d like to leave our earthly pile to some cause (unless our nieces and nephews wise up quick), but all foundations skew left eventually.

Comment from JeffS
Time: August 8, 2013, 12:17 am

This could be similar to the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf!” parable. You can shout into people’s faces for only so long; after that, the message becomes irrelevant.

At the same time, the lefties are perfectly happy to be overt racists themselves, as they are screaming “RAAAAACIST!” Hypocrisy is both a turn off and a teacher.

Or …. some people are just dumb. 🙂

Comment from feynmangroupie
Time: August 8, 2013, 12:26 am


You could always will your vast piles of cash to a ferret rescue or a wildlife refuge for mustelids.

Comment from scottthebadger
Time: August 8, 2013, 12:27 am

Alas, Stoaty, you are correct, even the USN has gone to the Left. During the Guadalcanal Campaign, Admiral Halsey had big, illuminated billboards put above Tulagi Harbor, that read, KILL JAPS! KILL JAPS! KILL MORE JAPS!. The current motto of the US Navy is A Global Force For Good. If you were a potential enemy, would you rather take on the country whose Navy’s motto was A Global Force For Good, or the one who uses KILL! KILL! KILL! ? But, of course, the sort of Navy that would scare an enemy is not the sort of navy the Current Administration wants, even though a Navy is an Enumerated Power in the Constitution, and is required to be funded. Yet, we seem to be stuck with the floating horror of the LCS, or Little Coffin Ship. Chester Nimitz, Bill Halsey, and Marc Mitscher must be spinning in their graves.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 8, 2013, 12:38 am

scottthebadger: The two sentiments are not incompatible. Killing Japs was a force for good. So was catching pirates and running down slave traders. But the Navy also does constructive things, and has in the past. Lately, the Navy isn’t often tasked to kill people. But in the course of its preparations and patrols, it gets many opportunities to do constructive things in passing.

If combat was the only value of the Navy, the last few decades would have been rather disappointing.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: August 8, 2013, 1:49 am

The game’s creator was interviewed on The Nerdist podcast, and he flat out said that such things were in the game – and treated so casually – because that was exactly the flavor of society in 1912.

Because it was such a casual thing in 1912, he felt like it should be casual in the game.

And frankly, I think he was right.

Comment from ermine
Time: August 8, 2013, 1:58 am

I’m of hillbilly descent. We always seem to be fair game.

Comment from Owen Kellogg (yes, THAT one)
Time: August 8, 2013, 2:26 am

I just thought that the racism added to the total repugnance that was the Comstock character. It was completely his world and the racism was there because he was The Racist. OF COURSE we want to win the game by smothering the racist bastard in his crib. So, meh.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: August 8, 2013, 2:50 am

Also of hillbilly descent and see the word ‘racist’ as the liberal-socialist’s Pavlov’s dog whistle that it is.

Generally, when someone says the word ‘racist’, I reach for my gun :>

Comment from Jasonius
Time: August 8, 2013, 5:41 am

I haven’t played Bioshock Infinite, in fact I only made it part way through the original Bioshock, but I get the feeling that the cities were made to vaguely conjure the idea of a Randian society.

While I am not 100% on board with Ayn Rand’s belief system it does have a strong flavor of individuality and libertarianism to it.

This seems to me to be a delicate, subtle stroke of the Liberal paintbrush to equate any form of libertarianism or small l liberalism or even self reliance with the ugliness of racism. Just another small dollop of propaganda in favor of statism.

I think the truth is that there is no good direct counter-argument to the libertarian/small l liberal ideals in the statist vision and so they counter it with oblique pop culture jabs to, eventually, make these ideas if not ugly and/or evil then at least gauche and unworthy of civilized conversation.

I could be way off base here and too far into my cups. Thoughts?

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 8, 2013, 7:50 am

Sweasle is just trying to outdo someone one this board in the Race-baiting-stakes


Comment from Oceania
Time: August 8, 2013, 7:51 am


Ayn Rand?
The Fruitcake?

You Amerikans have a morbid belief in structures that have no basis outside your borders!

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 8, 2013, 8:00 am

Oh Amerika you have just been Destroyed!


Laughing Weasle Emoticon!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2013, 10:38 am

Bioshock was a definite and deliberate Randian world, Jasonius. The game turned the tables on you at the end, but I won’t tell you how in case you decide to finish it some day.

The second one, I never made it through. I found the gameplay (the literal controls) too clumsy and hard to master.

The third one only has the most tenuous connection to the first two.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 8, 2013, 1:59 pm

Rand was a Russian, O.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: August 8, 2013, 6:11 pm

They’re probably relying on the elitist “the past was all evil and racist” mentality. As in “well of course they were like that, a game set in that time would be that way, the scumbag racist white supremacist European phallocrats!”

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: August 8, 2013, 7:12 pm

An excellent game. Not as good as BioShock. But then, what is?

Ken Levine is up there with John Carmack, Gabe Newell, Todd Howard, and Hideo Kojima as far as I’m concerned.

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 8, 2013, 11:47 pm

If you have the passport and the Party card – you are an Amerikan!

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