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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.

August 7, 2013 — 10:38 pm
Comments: 28