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01/12/2019 18:39:26 •••

Whether you are killing for a cause, you're still killing people!

I am bored to tears with the debates on game as art or maturity of the medium. Bioshock Infinite doubly so. I love the set design, bright Super Mario 64 colors. All sunshine. I like the characterization and I loved the ending which had a real dramatic resonance. It's better than Bioshock 1 of course, but then I am in a minority for never having cared for that game to begin with.

Ken Levine has the curse of talking a better game than he delivers. Bioshock Infinite is far below its lofty ambitions. And the reason for that is, simply this is a shooting game. All the quantum mumbo-jumbo is there for level tours, cut-scenes and conversations only, the crux of the gameplay is simply shooting everything that comes your way, no exceptions. The crux of the game is interactive cutscenes but you aren't going to be top of the roost in gaming circles if you create gaemplay on a lack of conflict. So Irrational Game has it both ways, creating a mix that is jarring and painful.

The game is also fundamentally racist in its portrayal of a crazy black woman Daisy Fitzroy attacking the founders and being looked at as if she's some kind of bad person when the hero murders everyone unhesitatingly. We are supposed to think that her wanting to destroy Columbia is a bad thing when one need to ask how is that different from what we are making happen anyway.

There are two parts in the game which suggested that it could potentially live up to its ideas and I hope their followup picks on this. I think the sequence with the death of the machinist, where reality multiplies before us with the travel through tears was genuinely creepy and tense. The implications of reality shuffling over ought to be a game in its own right, instead its used as light foreshadowing. Likewise the moment in Comstock's Lair, where as Edward travels through the floors, in a Stealth type mission with a house of mental misfits and again there's a sense of several alternate futures playing out in parallel, showing you what happens if you don't save the girl and a bad future where you fail. A sense of reality being in flux around you.

12/27/2013 00:00:00

The difference between Booker and Daisy is that Booker (Usually) doesn't kill people if they don't try to kill him first. You seem to imply Booker was actually able to waltz through the game without firing a single bullet, but it all went to hell because he's a murdering psychopath who just haaad to go kill somebody. But that's not how it goes. Nearly every fight in the game breaks out because somebody tried to kill Booker, and he kills them in self-defense. Daisy may have also started murdering in self-defense, but then she went too far - she tried to kill Booker, to keep her revolution going, and then tried to kill a child, because she wanted revenge. It's not racist. It's not saying "White guys can kill, but it's baaaad if a black woman does it." As clumsily handled as the Vox Populi plot is, it's supposed to be a warning that a revolution can be just as bad as what it's revolting against. Daisy was a villain not because she was killing people, but because she was killing innocents. There's a difference.

And besides, Booker was in that place once - killing people not because they deserved it, or because they would kill him otherwise, but because he could. And he responded to it by gambling away his money and trying to drink himself to death. As a matter of fact, isn't the point of the whole story? Booker recognized his sins, recognized that a little dunk in a river wouldn't cleanse him of them. Comstock didn't, and that's how he became Comstock. The same goes for Daisy. She never realized she was wrong. The whole story is about realizing and dealing with one's sins. Daisy doesn't even reach the "realizing" stage, much less the "dealing."

12/27/2013 00:00:00

Oh, and remember that when Daisy spots the alternate Booker and Elizabeth? Her response, instead of welcoming a somewhat new-old friend with open arms, is to try and kill them, because she used Booker's death as a propaganda machine.

Sometimes, people who aren't white are assholes. Sometimes, people who mean well have their motives degenerate into sheer madness. I'm a minority and I'm sick of the weird hero worship Daisy gets.

12/27/2013 00:00:00

The point is Daisy is a racist caricature in the hysterical context of the game where its all done in extremes. The whole child-killing thing comes out of nowhere, since we don't see children anywhere otherwise and suddenly she has a gun on one out of nowhere with no introduction. As bad as this is, in no way does this make her as bad as Comstock, or Booker for that matter. Booker murdered women and children in the battle of wounded knee but the story tells us that the worst thing he does is...selling his daughter for gambling debts. I mean yeah it works dramatically and all, but its very much Skewed Priorities.

To E Kono Mai, It's not Daisy who spots an "alternate Booker and Elizabeth", its an alternate Daisy who spots Booker and Elizabeth. That is the narrative justification for that rather poor stroke of storytelling. And even there, she had the gun on the kid for a long time and Booker talks to her through that, the fact is if she was bloodthirsty she would have killed it in a heartbeat, which means she's hesitant, she's pumped by adrenaline and the like.

To Name Pending, I meant more in terms of gameplay, there are no real non-violent choices in the game. You simply have to kill everyone, not even disarm them, or silently knock them out, just flat out Kill 'em All. That implies that Booker is definitely a Psycho Killer who can't think of any other way to deal with situations but kill. A game like Dishonored made multiple realities a real gameplay phenomenon by giving you all kinds of choices and third options so there you can afford to have a benign view of your Player Character but not here.

I am well aware of what Daisy is supposed to represent and all, its just that Elizabeth's situation is not something anyone in a real world will ever really phase except as a metaphor or something, but Daisy's oppression is real and something shared by everyone so excuse me if I cast doubt on the motivations of a game where real things are made into caricatures over something fantastic. Ideally, they should have removed Daisy and the Vox altogether and made the whole thing a fantasy land since the game really has nothing to say about American history really, but to include all that and then not be called out on short-sightedness is well...self-delusional to say the least.

12/27/2013 00:00:00

I think Booker selling his daughter gets the most attention simply because it has the more immediate impact on the story, and is more directly related to the characters within the story. I don't think Ken Levine was secretly trying to tell us that attempted genocide just deserves a slap on the wrist, and that Booker's still an alright guy regardless of it. Because while it doesn't get as much attention, without Booker's actions at Wounded Knee there wouldn't be a Bioshock Infinite. There'd just be Booker serving in the military, assumably living happily with his daughter. But Wounded Knee was a turning point for Booker, and for the whole story - it's the source of Booker's initial regret, the reason he considered the baptism, and in some realities, the reason Comstock exists at all. It's not something they just threw in. It's a vital aspect of the story and of the characters of both Booker and Comstock. It's what caused that split between them, not Anna. And it showed that such an inherently wrong action can't be washed away so easily. Story-wise, I'd say Wounded Knee and it's implications are just as vital as Anna. It's simply not as ostentatious, because everyone involved in that outside of Booker and Slate, everyone involved in it is either dead or not in the story. And it already has a deep-reaching effect on Booker.

As for Booker being a psycho killer... well, yeah, he kinda is. Not an outright psychopath, maybe, but I think it's perfectly fair to say that he's a bad guy who doesn't know how to resolve a situation beyond shooting it full of holes. He's the protagonist, yeah, and by virtue of that most assume that the story supports his actions - but really, the game doesn't ever show him as outright heroic. He's a grizzled soldier burdened with decades of guilt, a drunk and a gambler that's hopelessly in debt. And yes, he might regret Wounded Knee, but regret doesn't mean atonement or absolution. Hell, the story's initial objective is to kidnap a teenage girl. Oh, sure, you're freeing her, but only to deliver her to what could very well be another prison, for all Booker knows. And it's not for some grander cause, Booker's not doing it because it's the only way to achieve some lofty goal of his - he's doing it to pay off a debt he made himself. That's hardly what I'd call heroic. He's not a good guy, and I wouldn't say the game tries to paint him as such. Booker's the protagonist, but he's no hero. From any other perspective, he could very well have been the villain. Especially since he technically is the villain.

That being said, yeah, the Vox Populi plot line were very, very clumsy. Daisy's change of face was too sudden, Booker's logic is riddled with plot holes, and the whole thing just seemed like a massive fetch quest they threw in to soak up time. But as far as the Vox goes, it's obvious filler for the real plot line of Comstock's origins. The game apparently had a lot of rewrites - I wouldn't be surprised if an early draft had the Vox Populi and Columbia as it's main plot, but that all got relegated to the side when they wrote Comstock in. It certainly could have been an interesting tale, but honestly, I like the one with Comstock better.

02/06/2014 00:00:00

You do see children at some points - one gives you a telegram when you arrive in Columbia.

02/07/2014 00:00:00

The problem with Daisy Fitzroy is not that she's a child killer. The problem with Daisy Fitzroy (And the Vox in general) is that the game had no idea how to make them a balanced force to the Founders. Columbia is a hellhole of inequality, violence, greed, and distrust. The first time you're found out, the police don't just try to restrain you, they try to swing a rotating blade into your head. Why on Earth would it be wrong to want to revolt against that?

Before release, the Vox Populi were emphasized as being indiscriminately violent and as an opposite extreme to the Founders. So they stick scenes like Daisy Fitzroy going bananas in without any real reason other than "the Vox Populi are supposed to be bloodthirsty". Even ignoring the unfortunate implications that a revolution has to be violent or that any violent revolution must be "extreme", it still doesn't work because the Founders in the game are even more violent by the very nature of their philosphy. "Oh no, the Vox kill people! Damn, maybe I should support the Founders who kill people and are racist oppressive dicks."

It's gutless writing, an attempt to include "reasonable" politics while trying to stay apolitical.

02/11/2014 00:00:00

Somebody said it already, but I'll say it again: People of color are very capable of being assholes, and sometimes even villains. To call Infinite inherently racist because it portrayed the leader of a rebellion against a racist society as anything other than a Mary Sue noble hero is a lazy, half-hearted attack that probably found its origins in one of the many moist nooks and crevices the Tumblr Social Justice Brigade has to offer.

Besides, who are we to say Fitzroy made a heel face turn? How many times did Booker see her before she ordered her cronies on him? Once? When she took the ship he worked so hard to get to manipulate him into doing her dirty work? The point is, it sounds glamorous for the leader of a revolution against a racist society to be chaotic good at best, but the world doesn't work like that. To make Fitzroy a morally pure character would be to disregard EVERY revolution in history as being the noble people rising up against the nasty, dirty oppressors, and as much as we'd like to believe the world is full of neatly packed black-and-white situations, it isn't. Bravo, Bioshock Infinite team, for sparing us a boring soapbox in exchange for believable social interactions.

02/11/2014 00:00:00

====== Bravo, Bioshock Infinite team, for sparing us a boring soapbox in exchange for believable social interactions. ======

What they give IS a boring soapbox instead of believable social interactions. The soapbox here is "oppressed people turn out to be nearly as dangerous and oblivious as their masters" and their way of showing that is not believable in the slightest since the context is so over-the-top. I mean I am not into revolutionary romanticism myself, but then you don't have to be when confronted with such over-the-top injustice and a batshit psycho like Comstock.

===== People of color are very capable of being assholes, and sometimes even villains. To call Infinite inherently racist because it portrayed the leader of a rebellion against a racist society as anything other than a Mary Sue noble hero is a lazy, half-hearted attack... =====

See, this is the Black and White Insanity of this game, and most games. You can only concieve of two alternatives for an African American character either an oppressed asshole or a noble hero, like there can't be other variations or subtle shades. African Americans make great villains, like Frank Tenpenny in San Andreas for example.

I'd be on board with this if it wasn't for the inarguable fact that 99% of most video game protagonists are white and that's true of the larger media as well. A game set in the 1900s America which tries to portray racism and segregation and conservative insanity invites all kinds of baggage and associations with it, and the fact that the story invites more sympathy for Booker, a white guy who murdered women and children in Wounded Knee did all kinds of evil stuff as a Pinkerton agent and that after THIS, he sold his daughter, And That's Terrible is commendable is solid writing and I can understand they didn't have time to flesh out Daisy. Ideally they should have left her and the revolution stuff out completely and make it a total fantasy like Zelda or something, but since they choose to make it serious and all, then they certainly have to take their fully earned punches.

02/11/2014 00:00:00

An over-the-top regime for an over-the-top rebellion. I don't see your point in how that makes it boring or any less credible of an Aesop.

As for the African American characters, your argument is that because white people are usually the protagonists of video games, the only appearance of developed black characters being villainous is a bad thing? I can understand that to a point, but in Infinite, there are no "good" guys, or rather, there are no villains who have enough sympathy to excuse their actions. There is no morally sustainable party, including Booker. This is a case of a villain protagonist, or at its best, antihero protagonist.

You can't expect video games to be a pillar of social progression any more than you can expect everyone to heed to your political opinions. Bioshock Infinite really IS just shooting bullets or powers and making fork-road decisions that end up effecting squat in the end. That's what EVERY Bioshock game is. Bioshock Games AREN'T non-serious fantasy games with clear-cut heroes and villains of all races and orientations sitting down in a circle to talk about their feelings. Worn game design? Sure. Racist undertones? Hell no.

02/11/2014 00:00:00

====== As for the African American characters, your argument is that because white people are usually the protagonists of video games, the only appearance of developed black characters being villainous is a bad thing? I can understand that to a point, but in Infinite, there are no "good" guys, or rather, there are no villains who have enough sympathy to excuse their actions. ======

Well when Elizabeth says about Daisy and Comstock that they are "two of a pair" and her killing of Daisy is shown as tragic and sad, than that is making a point of moral judgment. I mean that's how storytelling works. She, a kind of naive, sheltered white teenager who demonstrably has no understanding of how poor people live, clearly considers Booker more worthy of redemption, even at the end, especially at the end, than people who have no access to Quantum Wizardy and whose cruelty is actually less extreme than what Booker did at Wounded Knee.

====== You can't expect video games to be a pillar of social progression any more than you can expect everyone to heed to your political opinions. ======

Again you presume about my political opinions too much but then fanboys regard any real world needle poking their fun balloon as "social justice warrior" when what is pointed out is actually garden variety false equivalence. The point is in the wider gaming community, Bioshock Infinite is seen as a sign of maturity that whole "games as art" thing, and there are obvious flaws in the basic premise on which it is constructed. Though personally in my books, Super Mario 64 and Zelda games are way more artistic than this.

====== Bioshock Infinite really IS just shooting bullets or powers and making fork-road decisions that end up effecting squat in the end. =====

So why feature stuff like a mixed race couple presented for public stoning? Why go to such expensive effort to recreate period posters and racist propaganda? The game clearly has ambitions to be more than that. And on the terms it sets for itself, it ought to be judged and found vaunting.

02/12/2014 00:00:00

Yes, I'd say Elizabeth is the ONLY morally just person through any of this mess, and it could be interpreted that her killing Daisy was more tragic for her taking a human life than Daisy falling.

I'm not a fanboy by any means of the word. I like the Bioshock franchise, I like the art, the story, but by all means, if you want to poke the fun bubble, do it with a needle other than race. There's a reason people equate any criticism of the game based on race to Tumblr SJWery. Again, just because the game isn't a certain way doesn't mean it's not artistic. It tells a story through visually appealing aesthetics and motor-skill stimuli. Boom. Art. Whether Super Mario 64 is any more artistic is literally on you.

And why not feature a mixed race couple presented for stoning? It's the SETTING. They don't make games with social commentary on a do-it-just-right-or-not-at-all basis, the writers for the game had a message and they got it across. If your argument this whole time was "people are saying this is art, but it isn't", then, well...

02/13/2014 00:00:00

Well, Super Mario 64 is still dazzling in its level design and use of 3D gameplay and sheer variety possible with limited controls...Bioshock lets you do the same thing over and over again in new settings that are all equally flat and boring at the end of the day. Though there are exceptions like the Comstock House where reality folds around you.


...if you want to poke the fun bubble, do it with a needle other than race.

What kind of argument is that? Like racism and double standards shouldn't be discussed. I would say, despite its flaws, that is definitely not the message of Bioshock Infinite since it's actually pretty sophisticated, at least in the first half of the game in showing the ugliness of Old America in that Disneyland facade. That sophistication is part of the problem in that it could go further but doesn't.


They don't make games with social commentary on a do-it-just-right-or-not-at-all basis,

That's a fair point actually. I wouldn't mind if they kept that in the background and told a more intimate family drama(which is what the game boils down to) since the parts I liked have to do with the Comstocks and Lady Comstock than anything else. But they gave too much space to the Vox and if you do that and don't resolve it meaningfully and coherently and instead use an absurd escape hatch than you're going to get it.


If your argument this whole time was "people are saying this is art, but it isn't"

Well yeah, its overrated to the hills and few people are talking about how dubious its ideas are and the ones that do are called "social justice warriors" and since I don't have access to a gaming magazine or a website, I post here. I really don't care if video games are art or not, I like playing them.

06/25/2014 00:00:00

This game is white-centric, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so ludicrously racially insensitive and blind to all the real oppression that it makes use of. This game is essentially nothing more than an absolution of one white man's guilt, all the "acknowledgment of racism" is just pretentious window dressing that offends more than educates. The piece of shit story literally proclaims that anti-racist blacks would "do the same thing to the other side", which is the most idiotic example of (ahem) black and white thinking possible.

This sort of appeasement of white guilt ("yeah, all the prejudice and oppression in history were unfortunate, but it's not like they wouldn't have done the same to us so it's fine to pretend anti-white racism is on the same level as anti-black!") is absolutely offensive when you considering ALL THE BLACK CHARACTERS ARE INTERCHANGEABLE PLOT OBJECTS. Even Daisy is nothing more than a cartoon villain plot device designed to move the story along so that we can continue feeling bad for our dear white-male protagonist as he slaughters the evil (why are they evil? so this piece of shit game can fill its hours with more shit gameplay? wow vidya gams are such art) mindless hordes. This kind of moronic false equivalency is complete bullshit. It's so sad that it's funny that the (assuredly all white) game devs obviously thought it was a fine and dandy plot point instead of something taken straight out of stormfront."See what happens when you give blacks freedom?!?" What a fucking joke.

It literally endorses the paranoia and fears of bigots by casting the black characters as cartoon villains. The annoying focus on the main character's "repentance" is particularly bullshit, and reeks of white-centricity. Why do we not hear a peep about any of the Native Americans he slaughtered, let alone any of the Vox? Why is it that blacks are literally just as evil as the racists profess them to be, instead of actual humans? There wasn't enough space for actual human drama? TYPICAL! So typical that the only heroic characters are white, and everyone else is refused a voice, let alone the parts in history they actually played.

Even worse is that THE DREADED RACISTS(tm) are nothing more than cartoon villains themselves! It reeks of white appeasement, the only racists in this game are utter strawmen that are so obviously evil no one is going to learn a thing from playing this game, besides that "racism is obvious, and since I'm not obviously racist all my biases are fine!". These kind of caricatures are why racism still exists, "Don't worry kids! as long as you don't throw things at those evil inhumane blacks, you won't be racist at all!"

Fuck this game, fuck the game industry, fuck all of you for being so mindlessly accepting about your mediocre entertainment.

01/12/2019 00:00:00

what in the goddamn was that second-to-last response


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