Harvest or Rescue

Rapture Revisited Part 2: BioShock and Ludonarrative Consonance

I finished chapter three of BioShock. This is the part where you must confront and kill the grotesque and maniacal Dr. Steinman, presumably because he calls you ugly. That, and he insists on trying to kill you. He also has something you need, which in FPS-land pretty much guarantees him a toe-tag in any case.

But lets move on. Dr. Steinman is an offensive twit, a boorish distraction from the main event, because it’s in this chapter that the game first presents the player with the choice that is so quintessentially “BioShock”: Save the Little Sister, or murder her by harvesting her adam.

Continue reading

Necessary Evils 2

Bioshock and Moral Narrative in Games (Part 2 of 2)

Leap forward a year or more after my brief encounter with Bioshock. I can’t remember exactly how much time passed, but by this point Bioshock 2 had been released as a free download on the PS3 for people with a Playstation “Plus” account. It had been long enough since I’d finished the original Bioshock demo that I didn’t remember whatever spoilers I might’ve read in the meantime. What I did remember was a constant, panicky “help! help!” sensation. I remembered loving the environment and wanting very much to experience the whole story, but I also remembered resenting the fact that I’d have to slog through hours of pointless, carbon-copy shoot-’em-ups to do so.

Continue reading

Necessary Evils 1

Bioshock and Moral Narrative in Games (Part 1 of 2)

Bioshock and Bioshock 2 are great games, but for me they were just the right games at the right time. Nothing I’ve played or read or watched in the past decade has prompted a deeper, more personal examination of games, story, creativity, and craft. I decided I wouldn’t let this moment of intense self-reflection pass me by. Before I allowed myself to play the much-anticipated sequel, Bioshock Infinite, I would have to write at least one blog post on the subject. Not only would this allow me to voice something I found personally significant, it would force me to finish a written piece, something I’ve found deucedly difficult for many years.

Continue reading