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BioShock Infinite And The Future Of Gaming

“BioShock Infinite”. The latest, biggest, brainiest video game of all. We’ll talk to the creator and ask where games are going?

Screenshot from BioShock Infinite

Screenshot from BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games)

The marketing is everywhere now for the huge new would-be blockbuster video game “BioShock Infinite”.  We shouldn’t be surprised.  Blockbuster movies arrive with a lot of noise, and these days video games are in the same league.  Of entertainment, engagement, some would say art.

The latest BioShock is deeply immersive.  You’re back in 1912, but it’s an alternate history.  A floating city.  Utopian.  Dystopian.  A wild theocracy.  Time travel.  Big ideas.  And yes, lots of shooting.

This hour, On Point:  we talk with Ken Levine, creative director of BioShock Infinite.

-Tom Ashbrook


Ken Levine, creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games. Their new game is “BioShock Infinite.” (@iglevine)

Scott Steinberg, video game analyst, innovation consultant and speaker, CEO of TechSavvy Global. (@akeynotespeaker)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “BioShock Infinite is packed with cultural references both high and low. Mr. Levine’s research included the book’The Devil in the White City’ by Erik Larson; the Occupy Wall Street movement; a short, silent film of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake; Hitchcock; the Beach Boys; Freud; Disneyland; and on and on. What he has created with these disparate elements could be called a literary endeavor for a multimedia age.”

Kotaku “You haven’t been to a place like this before. The fictional floating city where Infinite is set is all clockwork platforms and brass gears, its many sections populated with hucksters, strivers, lovers and schoolchildren. One minute, you’re walking past a sheer drop, the next a park swings down into the open space. Sure, they seceded from the Union but it’s such a bloom-lit paradise that you almost can’t blame them.”

The Los Angeles Times “Unforgettably disturbing images populate ‘BioShock Infinite,’ the most anticipated first-person shooter game of 2013. In the game, set largely in 1912, an interracial couple is nearly stoned by an angry white mob, a Chinese man is killed simply for being Asian, and Irish and blacks are relegated to separate bathrooms. Out for a week, the third installment in a series from famed game designer Ken Levine has already been decreed a masterwork, and on the surface it’s easy to see why. Its mechanics are nearly flawless, and the narrative promises to realistically grapple with issues of racism, religious persecution and inequality. As with its two predecessors, it seems entirely possible that this installment is evidence that games can be thought-provoking.”


YouTube user dansg08 edited his play-through of BioShock Infinite into a three-and-a-half-hour movie.


Photo: Ken Levine in the On Point studio

Ken Levine in the On Point studio (photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR)

Ken Levine in the On Point studio (photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR)

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  • MarkInOhio

    I just started in on this one. It’s awesome so far!

    • sickofthechit

       Mark, you look/sound like a gamer.  Ever watched the game reviews on Escapist Magazine by “Zero Punctutation”  he is hilarious.  For mature audiences only…

      • MarkInOhio

        Had not heard of that but it looks cool, thanks for the tip. I have been working on FF XIII for like FOREVER and I usually just play one game at a time but I read about the new Bioshock and just had to jump. It’s a little “shootier” than I care for but I gather the story is deep and I always like that.

      • Jim Thomas

         “Reviews” the guy just talks in a fake-fast voice, complains and bitches, and thinks he’s funny. He’s not a reviewer: he’s a comedic critic. He even mentions in the Silent Hill videos that he “wanted to complain, but he really can’t” meaning, he LOOKS for things to complain about. I can watch him after I finish the game, to chuckle at the shortcomings, but as a review? No.

  • http://twitter.com/Maester Andyyyyy

    Are you directing the DLC?

  • Other Chris

    ANOTHER advertisement for this game? Please, let’s stop pretending that this is all new. Games with deep, thought provoking stories have been done before and done much better, but without any of the press that Bioshock 3 is getting.

    • Miles Wimbrow

      No matter that Bioshock was *supposed* to be the spiritual successor to System Shock, a game many who play Infinite have probably never even heard of.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michaeldavidbuckley Michael Buckley

        Well we can still hope they’ll link System and Bio shocks together at some point :)

      • akomei

        This doesn’t just apply to games, but films as well, especially those of Tarantino. Still doesn’t negate the fact that Bioshock: Infinite can and still will be hailed as a great game on its own whether or not indie/hipster gamers mention System Shock.

        • Miles Wimbrow

          I probably sounded prudish (glorious PC gaming master race and all) but I think it’s telling that it’s ‘newsworthy’ that we would have a game like infinite hailed for being…intelligent. Who is the intended audience of this piece?

          There’s still such a generational divide between people who have grown up playing games and those who dismiss them as trashy entertainment. I don’t blame the stigma if the best selling games nowadays are CoD and imitations of CoD. 

          • akomei

            True, I do see this divide, and there was an article somewhere (I believe Kotaku, yes, such a valued source, I know…) that mentioned its gratuitous violence which was overbearing the story. While I don’t generally cite Kotaku with high praise (or any, for that matter), I agree that Bioshock: Infinite did lose some of its credibility by glorifying the gore as much as all the other games out there. It begins to diminish its audience to your regular “CoD”s

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1075102999 Oleg Tzurikov

      games such as?

    • DillonMcDougald

      You are technically correct, especially as regards PC games; however, I don’t see how games of similar caliber gaining mainstream appeal is in any way a bad thing.  I think it’s totally fair to say that prior games deserved better press, but that’s not the same thing as saying Bioshock: Infinite deserves less press.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Game looks like an acid trip.  I’ll stick to Pong.

    • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston

      That is your takeaway to creative vision? Being “too” creative hurts your brain so stick with the past?

  • JobExperience

    On Point is a cyber drug pusher today. This is a bigger scam than electronic cigarettes. Meth does more for the community than ultra violent video fantasy and is less addictive. Maybe a game system is the new college education, prepares youngsters for a barren nihilist future.

    Living in the real world is what’s thought-provoking. Digital bullshot ain’t even hooked up to nothin’, ‘ceptin’ maybe a killer drone.

    • https://openid.stackexchange.com/user/2f60c68c-3d17-43b0-858b-0661cfd5bafa mysticeti

      Really?  Why so bitter?

      Like fictional books and movies, if you don’t like video games, don’t play them.

      “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/JRhyme J Earl Novak

      This game has a “Mature” rating and is made for adults.  Why be a troll when you haven’t played the game nor do you understand it.  I see the Bioshock trilogy as an experience of art and storytelling.  It’s more about that then just gruesome violence.  The attention to details are like the first Bioshock…amazing.  This is coming from a person with a PS3 who buys one game a year.  Props to you Ken Levine!  The ending made me go…whaaaaaaa? nooooo!?!

      • sickofthechit

        You’ll want to check out Escapist Magazine “Zero Punctuation” reviewer for some good laughs and insights on various games (mature audiences only).  I am not a shill for them, only a lucky non-gamer who happened across their site years ago by lucky chance

    • http://www.facebook.com/michaeldavidbuckley Michael Buckley

      Sorry, with “Living in the real world is what’s thought-provoking” are you saying nothing outside of “real world” can be thought provoking? That books, art, movies, music etc… that none of these can enrich a life?

      Games are just another medium, of course there can be great works within them, just as there can also be utter dross!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730631007 Aaron Childers

      you’re absolutely correct. nothing thought provoking about interactive storytelling with stunning visuals and using technology that just wasnt possible half a decade ago. no, the real world in all it’s mediocrity and ignorance is much more stimulating than creativity.

    • Miles Wimbrow

      You can probably find the exact same arguments being made against when youth first started going to the movies. Oh, those dastardly delinquents are their screen-viewing! How they’re ruining society!

      Most politicians still find it advantageous to shift whatever ills or grievances with society onto video games. Frustrating, but their generation is a shrinking one. 

      • sickofthechit

        Actually I think Comic Books were attacked before the movies.

    • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston


  • carze

    Finished the game late last week and found it every bit as good as Bioshock 1. In a climate where it is very easy to just go after the Call of Duty crowd with a military shooter in the middle east it is pretty refreshing to see Mr. Levine and his team create a game that has well-developed characters and a mutli-layered plot that provokes thought. I’d really like to hear some about Mr. Levine’s thought process and where he got his inspiration for Infinite. 

  • Ivan Yim

    Just want to know when will the DLC release and will all DLC extending the story? Also want to know will Irrational release the official story timeline?

  • Denise Dukette

    I really enjoyed the game, although I did find it a bit short. The landscape (airscape?) was brilliant! Of all things I found amazing, the opening scene is beautiful and peaceful .. I was just blown away by it. Hats off to the entire team .. it was worth the wait!!

    Can’t wait for the DLC :)

    • Chad Fame

      How long was the game, per your estimation?  Same as Bioshock?

      • BenderBot209

        took me about 15 hours.

      • Carlos Larios

         I beat it at 16 hours taking my sweet time.  I wanted to see as much of Columbia as I could.  I listened to all the citizens conversations as well.

      • Denise Dukette

        I was thorough (I’m weird that way) and it took me 22 hours.

  • Jim Chambers

    So glad the team focused on single player and didn’t tack on a multiplayer mode that just doesn’t fit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/theBlairness Blair Holley


  • http://www.facebook.com/theBlairness Blair Holley

    I thought this game was thought provoking, and a literal work of art, but when I go to join discussions online about the game I find a lot of people complaining that the game takes racism too far and that it “ruins Christianity.” While I (and most people) think that these people completely missed the point, what would Ken say to these people?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002566766520 Philippe Sauriol

      FIRT, The game is for everyone not only for one religious faction. SECONDLY, things represented in the games are from true facts. Why should we hide what realy happen. Racism have been in our history, and history is there to remember us what is bad and what is good, and this for a better world. THIRD, I’m christian and I don’t wanna bother other christians but I got say, it’s not buddha adepts who have make the most racist calls in america. SO  SWALLOW YOUR PILLs!

    • Hurr Durr

      I love how the irony works in the game and it’s awesome that actual people getting offended.
      This shows how stupid are the fanatics of whatever religion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1347313962 Julian Hirst

    TBH I thought an “on rails” multiplayer mode would be fun ;)

  • Kyle

    I’ll wait till it gets cheap.  Plenty of other good games from a few years ago to play.  I just got Deux Ex: Human Revolution for $10

  • http://twitter.com/ErskineRob Rob Erskine

    sweet time travel spoiler. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/waynelummus Wayne Lummus

    in the dlc’s will thear be more rapture? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.moriarty.75 Chris Moriarty

    Great game and story, thank you! Can your guest talk about differences between the creative and corporate aspects of development with regards to plot development. Do you find your studio is limited in creativity (e.g. Bioware/EA Mass Effect 3 debaccle?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001402967738 Michael Eddington

    This game is a continuation of the videogame industry evolving into a wonderful art-form that was a prime example in the arguments in the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs Entertainment Merchants Association (2011).  There are many gamers that rejoice for Bioshock’s narrative, art design and gameplay as the new paradigm instead of the brainless first-person shooters that dominate the market now.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1424976479 Allen Horner

    I can understand the enjoyment people get from video games.  I do have a hard time understanding how after the Newtown massacre and years of trying to do away with discrimination, a producer can put up for sale something that elevates and teaches violence and discrimination.  It’s really terrible and gives fodder to those who would like to do away with violent video games altogether.  What a waste of time and talent.

    • carze

      Have you played the game? It does have a very high level of violence but it is also rated as a mature game therefore only adults should be playing. Furthermore the game has very heavy doses of morality in it unlike your other shooters where you are just indiscriminately killing people for points or perks. 

    • http://twitter.com/TomVWeekes Tom Weekes

      This is all around an ignorant statement.

      • Miles Wimbrow

        What’s unfortunate is that it’s not even his. This is the prevailing opinion among most people who themselves have never and would never play a video game. 

        It’s self-serving, comfortable rhetoric for a generation that just doesn’t understand the next. I don’t think there’s any malice intended here, it’s just a way to compensate for – as you say – complete ignorance on the subject. 

      • http://twitter.com/mutantmagnet mutantmagnet

         It isn’t. While searching for interesting discussions on this game I noticed white supremacists sites loved it while deliberately ignoring its message.

        • Miles Wimbrow

          You’re exactly right. We should expect white supremacists to show greater understanding and appreciation for different narratives and viewpoints on race and other controversial topics. 

    • BenderBot209

      Hey Allen, this game is not being passed out to children, In fact it’s rated M for mature, as in a movie being rated R for restricted. What it comes down to is parenting. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/SilentSounds Quentin Maddox

      This game does contain violence and shooting, but it by no means glorifies it. Killing is one of the central points in the game. Elizabeth, the girl you try to rescue, is visibly shaken whenever you do something awful and calls you a “thug” and “brute” at several points in the game. When she does take a life for the first (and only) time, she is completely silent and reacts very realistically. She was even defending a young child by killing the kid’s attacker and still doesn’t think herself in the right for killing a person. Both the original BioShock and Infinite are games that deal heavily (and successfully) with morality. As far as why you’re killing people in the game, they are, indeed, trying to kill you and are morally skewed to the point of Columbia’s leader saying, and I paraphrase from the game, that the white man is the only one capable of leading or amounting to anything in life. Anyone not American is seen as unworthy. But as I said before, violence isn’t the meaning of the game. The writing and surrounding story are the most breathtaking parts. They truly push this game into being a form of art. BioShock Infinite isn’t just some shooter like Call of Duty or Battlefield where the objective is to kill people. BioShock uses it as a catalyst to propel you through the story and to give reason for struggle. The game would hardly have any meaning if Booker just walked into Columbia, asked to have Elizabeth, and returned to the earth below with no problems. The game works in no other way or form. It exists as is and is perfect in its execution.

    • http://twitter.com/Siantlark Siantlark

       Discrimination? That’s an ignorant statement born of a complete lack of research into the game’s plot, themes, or characters. To even think that Bioshock Infinite, or any of it’s predecessors, glorify things like violence, brainwashing, discrimination, and insensitivity.

      Whatever pitfalls the Bioshock series has, and it has many, it’s not because it avoids actively criticizing the current state of games, gamers and people in today’s society.

  • Philippe Gregoire

    Kotaku posted an article yesterday (http://kotaku.com/this-crazy-bioshock-infinite-easter-egg-cant-be-real-464902193). In the Fitzpatrick scene of Bioshock 1, we can hear a sound that really sounds like the Songbird in his last scene of the game. What can you say about that ? Was the Songbird voice a reused sound of Bioshock 1, or was it a mind-blowing foreshadowing ?

  • sickofthechit

    What does  Escapist Magazine reviewer “Zero Punctuation” say about the game?  (WARNING: Mature Audiences only). They are the best games reviewer ever.  I don’t even play video games, but I have watched over 100 of their game reviews.  Fastest talking, funniest quips, most flamboyant reviewer on the internet, hands down!  You won’t regret a visit. charles a. bowsher

  • wtf

    Fantastic game! Bioshock 1 had a lot to say about Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Philosophy- in fact, I would say it predicted and preempted many of the arguments in favor of Rand’s philosophy that became popular among conservatives. Bioshock Infinite has a lot to say about early-20th century American politics, but also about this century’s Tea Party movement (with its veneration of the Founding Fathers). Is this an accurate portrayal? How much of the Tea Party/Occupy movement went into crafting Columbia and the Vox Populi?

  • marc_72

    Did Ken (and the rest or Irrational) feel pressure from their publisher (2k) to release the game after the first demos were released?  If so… how did this affect the atmosphere and creativity in their studio? 

    • Darius Douglas

      It was a good 2 and a half  to 3 years after the first gameplay demo was released to the public at E3. So I think it is safe to say that 2K didn’t have too much pressure on Irrational to finish the game hastily. Which is probably why the game turned out so fantastic.

  • VanillaC

    I wonder if the creators have considered making a narrative game without the violence.  I might be interested in that. 

    • Kyle

      Try Portal or Journey

    • ToyYoda

      There’s a classic game that is just wonderful to play and the story line is simple but wonderful.  It’s loosely based on Casablanca, but set in the after life.

      The Grim Fandango.

    • ToyYoda

      For the ipad, there’s Machinarium.

    • http://twitter.com/Wafflenator Sober Kirkpatrick

       There are probably thousands such games.  Journey, Flower, To the Moon, Machinarium, Portal 1-2, not to mention games that offer player choice when it comes to violence and non-violence such as Thief, Deus Ex, and the early Splinter Cell games.

    • Miles Wimbrow

      Real life is often violent and quite unpleasant. I don’t know if you can craft a realistic and compelling narrative of this type while actively censoring violence.

  • ToyYoda

    I would love to get into the new games, but I cannot get over the headaches that I get when playing first person perspective games.  Even watching someone play Monkeyball is enough to ruin my entire day.

    Do you know any way to get over this?

    • AaronM4576

      Take it slow and walk around, as this is what the game encourages. This would be a great place to start because of this. Play on easy and just take in the environment as you get used to the camera and controls.

    • Max Power

      This usually have to do with FOV (Field of view), a setting that is usually adjustable in the video options. I would suggest playing around with it in a game you already own to see if it really is just that. 

    • peter Phillips

      Play for short periods of time, reduce the turn sensitivity and reduce the difficulty. 
      Give this game a try, but you may get a headache from the brilliant narrative as much as anything

    • Carlos Larios

       Fixing your FOV in the options menu will fix that.

  • Chad Fame

    First, I’ve played the original Bioshock, and number 2 (not done by Ken’s team), but want to know why Ken and the team chose a white hero versus someone from the ‘populous?’  Is it due to the fact that most people playing the game would be able to relate to the character or some other reason?

    Additionally, I will say that [Ken's] games, provide an immersive environment that the player can feel the choices that they make such as the choices made in the first Bioshock and how it impacts the world.

    Games that provide an immersive environment, multiple choices, a great story and [key] gameplay supersedes (in my opinion) other forms of art such as movies and books where you are only a passive player/observer.

    • Max Power

      The story would’t make sense if you played as anything but a white male. It is difficult to explain why, without ruining the entire  game.

    • Ben Hanig

      Also, it’s 1912. You’re not going to get a lot of black or otherwise non-caucasian heroes. The Vox Poppuli leader, who happens to be a young African American woman couldn’t exist elsewhere in the world but Columbia. 

      But like Max said, it’s really plot relevant to be who you are, I’ll just say that.

    • http://twitter.com/Wafflenator Sober Kirkpatrick

       Booker Dewitt, as a character, is important, both in questioning player agency and in emotional payoffs late in the game.  It wouldn’t work with any other protagonist.

    • http://www.facebook.com/domenica.piumetti Domenica Maria Piumetti

       There’s hints that Booker is at least part Native American. So he’s not the stereotypical white bread Caucasian dude you may think he is.

  • Markid

    I’m not a gamer, probably never will be given my age which can be condensed into one word; old! However all my nieces and nephews are really into games, to the point they are trying to develop their own versions. Likewise, they have a story, a narrative, that moves the characters through the game. For me, I like the story line, so the movie version appeals to me more. Great interview!

  • Kim Dickinson

    I see that many gamers love this game.  I can not help but think that those who love the idea of a real emotional experience haven’t thought of going out to really experience life — volunteer at a homeless shelter, teach underpriveleged kids, take a walk in a real park (your last listener loved looking out the window of his video locale.)  Come on guys, why does this have to be the way you experience life.  And why does this game have to involve shooting, what about experiencing a kid who wants to learn but can’t get breakfast and won’t have an adult at home.  that tugs at the heartstrings, but doesn’t give you the option to shoot or not shoot.  Why why why can’t you come up with other scenarios or are you really just offering this wonderful game to a limited and I mean limited audience?

    PS, I object to the icon at the top being a male.  I am female and have no interest in playing this game.  One of your callers said it would draw more people in, please define your market, not all people, I am sure.

    • Adam Baugher

       Just…stop. We get it, you don’t like video games, but that doesn’t mean we’re all like you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/spencer.garrett Spencer Garrett

      Miss Dickinson I would suggest playing the entire adventure through before alluding to the fact that all people who play this game also do not experience life outside of it. Also stating that the gamer does not volunteer at local shelters or help homeless people is also ridiculous.  As if you’re saying that it’s only people who play this game or other games that do not volunteer or help society. Calling out one group is unfair and biased with no basis other than slanted views of gamers that have plagued the industry for years.  This game stimulates the mind on every other level outside of the “shooting” aspect, but rarely gets credit for its ingenuity and fantastic outlook on jingoism, racial integrity, and the evolution of human emotion through shocking revelations.  

      I do not object to your opinion, in fact I respect you for having the ability to have an opinion.  I do object to not examining an issue from all angles before coming to a conclusion though and you appear to have done just that.  You can’t be against something, intelligently, that you’ve never tried or studied in depth. 
      I end with a plea that you put your petty issues aside (it appears the box art has you in a tizzy) and at least sample the game or talk to people who have in order to get a better idea of what you’re dealing with.  This isn’t some garbage Call of Duty game being tossed out to every 10 year old boy in America with an Xbox or PS3, it’s a truly joyous ride through an adventure that you can watch and control on screen. I have experienced emotional connection outside of this game; love, heartbreak, pride, and all other emotions in between. Thank you for your post and I hope you take this comment seriously. 

    • peter Phillips

      I like your game concept Kim, sounds like a popular indie game called Cart Life. Have you played it? What about Journey? or Flower? 

      Should people not access through world through art, be it novels, movies, music, comics, theatre or even, shudder, video games.

    • AC

      Hi; I am an avid gamer, but I’m also a full time working professional & volunteer ~5 to 10hours a week getting middle & high school kids interested in math & science as well as judge, run & support many competitions for FREE. Why on earth do you assume gamers don’t do anything BUT game? Have people done nothing but play card games with their whole lives? Actually, that’s a bad example as it brings gambling to mind, but the majority are social get togethers for fun – all things in moderation, I guess. But stop judging people on their hobbies!!

      PS – I am a female also. these generalizations of yours, tsk tsk….

    • http://twitter.com/Grasle Grasle

      It’s not the game; it’s you. Stop being over sensitive to such trivial things.

      Learn to think objectively. Not only are your statements ignorant and narrow, they’re subjective. Do you also hate TV and books for the same reasons? I guess the only people who enjoy those kinds of entertainment are the sorts that don’t experience real life much, right?

      Don’t be so arrogant to believe that people who don’t live life the way you do are doing it wrong.

      The real question is why are you so intolerant to something out of your comfort zone?

      PS. Nice try, but it’s not sexist to be male. It is sexist, however, to expect to be specially catered to just because of your gender. The only ones that say things like you just did are the sexists – male and female.

    • Brittany Tucker

      What brings you to think that gamers don’t “really experience” life?  How is that any different from saying that readers don’t “really experience” life?  Why does being a gamer preclude one from being a good person with a fulfilling life?  

      I am deeply and passionately involved in the betterment of my community.  I am a disabled queer social activist, I moderate a suicide help group, I volunteer, I work overtime when a friend needs financial support.  I do not act in a way that violates my ethical framework, and I play video games.I thought that Bioshock Infinite was brilliant, both for its interpretation of a tumultuous and misunderstood period of American History (I think contemporary Americans would do well to learn from the Third Great Awakening, both religiously and politically speaking) and for the complex, often uncomfortable questions it raises.  Whatever you think about video games, it is impossible to deny the amount of effort put into making Bioshock Infinite something great and the amount of energy many gamers put into appreciating it.

      While the misrepresentation of all video games as mindless is still common, ludology is an expanding field of study.  In academia, video games are increasingly understood as engaging, challenging, and changing us as humans.  Those who fail to recognize their potential are missing out!

      For someone who doesn’t really play or understand video games, an example of a very accessible, educational game is Spent, a game about poverty and unemployment in America (http://playspent.org/).  For something that feels more “video game-y”, a very minimal but deeply thought provoking game is Small Worlds (http://armorgames.com/play/4850/). 

  • Kim Dickinson

    I agree that art forms are a society’s way to experience a world as true as the one we live in.  I just get tired of NPR promoting these violent games, take a stand, please

    • Adam Baugher

      No matter what you do, or what you think, video games will never die. They’re art. Like books, movies music, and they’re here to stay. : )

    • BenderBot209

      This game is rated “M” for mature, Meaning no children should be playing this game. It is up the parents to decide what the games their children experiences, if any, in the same way its the parent’s responsibility to ensure your children does not run into the middle of the road.

    • Ben Hanig

      I think your main problem is not having played it or, I would venture to guess, many video games at all. Yes, there are plenty of hyper-violent games out there (I’m a player of many) but, as in all art forms, you have to be willing to see past that. 

      And the Levine Bioshock games (the original and Infinite) always question your role in the violence. Have you seen any of Michael Haneke’s films? It’s a lot like how violence is used there. It’s not lauded, it’s put in front of you and then asked, “How does that make you feel? Why are you okay with this in other games? Should you be?” Infinite makes a hard, “No.” When you kill an enemy, your ally and friend, Elizabeth, visibly shudders. You hear her cry out when you attack someone. And even when she ends up killing someone in self-defense, you can see in her eyes how it breaks her. 
      Bioshock Infinite really is more than a First Person Shooter. It’s more than a game. It’s an experience, it’s art. And I think that if you could give it a chance, just watch someone go through it, kind of put the worries about violence and all aside, you could see it for the masterpiece it is. 
      Ken and this game are really on your side. They know violence is rampant in games and that, from a real-world perspective, it often creates more problems than it solves. Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite are both narratives which explore these themes and many more.

      • http://www.facebook.com/christian.j.williams Christian J. Williams

        Here, here!!

  • ToyYoda

    What’s the best platform to play this game on?  PlayStation or Xbox?

    • Max Power

      I would suggest PlayStation, as I have heard the xbox version has some visual issues (Frame rate hiccups)

    • Adam Baugher

       It looks best on PC.

    • Carlos Larios


    • Guilherme Schmid de Jesus

      Btw ur options, xbox, but the best plataform to play Bioshock Infinite is the PC. 

  • Carlos Larios

     Spencer, thank you for your comment.  Gamers are often put in a bad light.  I volunteer many times throughout the year with my little brother at shelters and such.  I’m also an avid runner, love sports, movies, art, and many other activities.  This whole stereotypical image of gamers needs to stop.

    • http://www.facebook.com/spencer.garrett Spencer Garrett

      Of course Carlos!  I don’t even fit the stereotypical image of a gamer myself so it bothers me when people just lump everyone together.  Games are art and whether people like it or not they will be here for a long time.  Even if you refuse that statement it’s hard to refuse it on an economic level, where games are absolutely exploding with revenue.  Companies will be cranking out games, good or bad, for years to come simply because there is money in that market.  

      As a side note, I find this ironic because even if you moan and groan about how awful games are you really won’t be stopping anything.  All you’ll do is irritate people and show how uneducated your opinions are! 

      Side side note, if it makes money and shows no harm to society, it stays. 
      Thanks everyone. 

  • http://twitter.com/Wafflenator Sober Kirkpatrick

    I thought the commentary in the game on labor and industry and the need for the white residents of Columbia to simultaneously rely on immigrant labor and scoff at their presence in the city, was very scathing and relevant today.  But I wonder if Levine thinks of how cartoonish he made one of his villians, Jeremiah Fink, when compared to the dire tone of Booker and Elizabeth’s plight and the plight of the Vox Populi.

  • ToyYoda

    Thanks for the suggestions!  I will try this game on PC.

    Is there an easy setting?  I don’t want to get stuck.  I haven’t played FPS for a very very long time.  In fact it was the introduction of FPS (Doom!  I think) which marks the beginning of the end of my game enthusiasm.  I just couldn’t get over the headaches, and most cutting edge games were moving to FPS.  Before that, I use to play games for hours and hours.  So maybe getting headaches as a blessing in disguise!!

    But I will try with this game.  Seems like it will be worth it.  I’m so surprised it took this long to make games with “greys” and not black and whites.  I’ve  been wishing for something like this since the 80′s.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17821047 Daniel Kolkena

      There is an easy setting, don’t worry. If FPS games give you headaches, though, I have one suggestion that helped me out a lot with this game. In the options menu, there is a setting for the Field of Vision. Move it all the way the the right. I found that the default felt too “close,” like leaning all the way forward in a car. By moving it back, the gameplay feels a bit more natural. Hope that helps!

      • ToyYoda

        Awesome.  Thanks for the info.  

        Hey, I tried watching the video on this page and got 10 minutes into it.  Looks awesome, but I noticed the run time on the video.  It’s 3 hours long.  I’m wondering if it’s basically a walk through of the game?  I stopped watching it  because of that.  Just curious to know from someone who has played it.  thanks!

        • http://profiles.google.com/chrismferguson Chris M. Ferguson

          Hey, Toy Yoda! Yes, that three hour video is a walkthrough, showing the complete game. Honestly, it’s fairly well done, showing all the story bits, removing most of the action scenes that to be honest doesn’t add anything to the story.

          If you like what you see, play the game or watch the video.

          Other games you may like that are story-driven but don’t have action is Tell Tale’s The Walking Dead game, it’s for PC, Xbox, PS3, and even iPhone and iPad. (Don’t get the first person shooter that just came out.) It’s the first game that utterly broke my heart at the end. I think you would like it and a great introduction piece to what games can offer in the future.

          Chris M Ferguson

    • http://twitter.com/Wafflenator Sober Kirkpatrick

       Play with the Field of View slider in the options and perhaps hook up a 360 controller and sit far away.  I’ve heard many people’s motion sickness is lessened by distancing yourself from the screen.

  • Michael_Perelman

    How do I listen to this past show?

    • Mario Fonseca

      You might be able to catch it on the radio (check your local public radio programming for onPoint) or wait for them to upload it tonight here and in podcast form.

    • JohanCorby

      Link at the top of the page.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.furnival Matthew Furnival

    Where can i find a video of the interview to watch ?

  • Michael_Perelman

    This page has a direct link to the “specific episode showcased” at the top of the page… I wonder what’s going on here?

  • Andrew Choi

    Video Games and game profiles that record “achievements” on Playstation, Xbox, Steam, etc could make a compelling tool for social science. For example, I would be very interested in seeing statistics on how many gamers chose to stone the interracial couple in Bioshock and who those gamers were. 

    Either way, thank you to the team at Irrational for making another beautiful game. As an American with Asian parents, I am glad to see a triple-A game centerpiece such dark and ugly aspects of mainstream American society.

  • http://twitter.com/aladin663 David Penzes

    Where can i watch/hear it pls?

    • ToyYoda

      There should be a link on this page to listen to the podcast of the interview.  There’s also a link on this page to see a video of the game.  Perhaps the links aren’t working for you?

      If you want to get the game, just search for it on google.

  • http://www.moddb.com/members/accessgranted AccessGranted

     Great feature! Ken Levine is one the best game designers out there. I’m always interested on what goes on through his mind and those at Irrational when they make games like Bioshock. I will have to check out the media he mentioned that were influential to the series.

  • Jeremy Mejia

    About violence in video games, educate yourselves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSBn77_h_6Q

  • http://www.facebook.com/edward.f.elric.10 Kevin Vega

    What is up with the ending Dude?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishcasanova Chris Casanova

    Ken has been so influential in gaming by creating these completely captivating worlds, characters, stories, and continually asking questions of the player as it relates to real life and society. Everyone is already sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see what is next. What is the future of Bioshock or have you begun to think of what is next at Irrational Games?

  • http://www.facebook.com/conor.swenson Conor Swenson

    I’ve played my fair share of violent video games, and I’ve also completed Bioshock Infinite. With that knowledge, however, I have to say one of my favorite parts of the game was the first 1-2 hours when you are getting your bearings in Columbia, no weapons in hand, and experiencing the vibrant world at the height of activity for the first time. I had become so immersed in learning about this new world and analyzing the character’s beliefs that I was taken aback when the violence started for the first time, I wanted to go back before it happened.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506941089 Leanne Canessa

    I’m not comfortable with the idea of equating movies with video-games.  There ARE similarities, but the kind of design decisions that go into a good game are completely different.  I’m not treading new ground here, but it’s a matter of movies being a fairly passive experience, whereas a video game is interactive, and you must take that entire dimension and all it encompasses into account when you make design decisions.  How much guidance do you want to give the player?  If you do, will it be direct or indirect?  Do you want to show or tell new information?  What kind of mood or atmosphere do you want to communicate, why, and how?  You can control these directly in a movie, but you can’t always control how a player will approach a new problem or experience, you can only try to influence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marc.roche.549 Marc Roche

    idiocracy here we come….

    • AC

      why? cuz it’s not bridge? who cares how people choose to spend their free time? lots of people have sports and games as hobbies….

      • http://www.facebook.com/marc.roche.549 Marc Roche

        video games are different…..addictive like gambling

        • AC

          the first day maybe; then logic kicks in and you learn to regulate yourself. if addicition becomes involved, there is another underlying factor that needs to be addressed and treated….

        • http://twitter.com/Grasle Grasle

          Care to show us one peer-reviewed study confirming this?

    • http://twitter.com/Grasle Grasle

      Another foolish statement from some old fart who doesn’t understand gaming and therefore thinks it to be the devil.

  • JessicaSolodar

    I heard a portion of this program in my car yesterday and decided to look at the trailers for Bioshock when I got home. Here is what I would have asked Ken Levine if had the chance: why does the industry continue to make games that are clearly capable of provoking seizures? I tested the trailers with a flash and pattern analysis application that tests video for seizure safety. Several sequences exceeded guidelines drawn up by the ITU for prevention of visually induced seizures. These analysis tools are available to developers and are used by countries where TV material is regulated to prevent seizure-inducing images from being broadcast.

    This is not about parents’ responsibility to watch their kids with epilepsy. Most people who have photosensitive epilepsy are unaware they have it until they experience a seizure (they don’t have seizures at other times). Worse yet, many seizures escape notice because they are subtle, and the impairments they cause can continue for years–with nobody suspecting that problems with physical, cognitive, and behavioral function are the result of unseen seizures. Unfortunately, people think photic seizures are very rare–this is what neurologists were taught well before today’s sophisticated graphics, and it’s what the seizure warnings on packages say.

    I’ve been through this as a parent. When we finally figured out what was going on and took away video games, my daughter’s health and cognitive functioning were dramatically improved.

    Since games don’t need to be visually boring in order to comply with safety guidelines, and most game manufacturers place these useless warnings on their products, why don’t they simply stop jeopardizing public health this way? I write about this issue at http://videogameseizures.wordpress.com 

  • AC

    !! how funny is this? I started playing this Monday night until 4am, can’t believe i missed this show!

  • ebrown409

    Is it possible that violent video games could help us overall live in the “unnatural” state of civilized society? Letting males and even some females with the same mentality, to some how get out the oppressed state of non violence. Thought provoked society places on us this hold on our survival, dominance, and hunter instincts that were wired into our brains through evolution and violent games make it able to satisfy these “building blocks needs” as a form of entertainment instead of for gain, or in today’s case, destruction of the community norms since all the problems that where once a concern to our primitive brains are no longer a factor in wondering if we are going to die tomorrow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lawrence-Kelley/717881317 Lawrence Kelley

    Interesting / edgy themes. A long way from the Commodore Computer “Scott Adams” games I played in the early 80′s! Grateful Tom Ashbrook is covering this: it makes me feel less guilty as a late 40-something to try playing a video game again (it’s been a while). :)  

  • http://twitter.com/aboutSLC Marsha Maxwell

    Why is Ken Levine so specific about Joseph Smith? As a Mormon I find that disturbing. Is this a game where the object is to “kill the Mormons?”

    • prollynomo

      It’s just pointing out that Joseph Smith wasn’t the greatest guy the world has ever known (save Jesus), and there’s now a religion who “knows” that he is. this powerful Dogma is what infinite is bringing into a horror game. 

      • http://twitter.com/Redbearwoodall Jeremy Woodall

        Well, I guess he didn’t do any research into our religion. We believe Joseph Smith is a prophet and regard him on the same level as Elijah, Enoch, Adam, and other biblical prophets. I also didn’t get any semblance of making Mormons into villains in the game, I felt more that it was showing that religion and national pride are simply tools, not good or evil, but are often reflected as such due to the people who use these tools, and that using extreme forms of these to justify immoral actions does not make it moral.

        • prollynomo

          well, in the Doctorine and covenants it says that Joseph Smith was better, and more important than any of those other prophets. It literally says, “Joseph Smith, the aProphet and bSeer of the Lord, has done more, csave Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” just short of deification of Joseph Smith, if you ask me. That’s mormon doctorine. And Joseph wanted to create a new Jeruselem, Mormons went to Utah (with Brigham Young) to begin their own community, and it was purposefully secluded. so, there are some compelling reasons to believe the Lead designer of the game when he says that it has some parallels to Mormonism. no?

    • Sean Jones

      You clearly didn’t listen to the interview.

    • Caleb snyder Dicesare

      no it is not, Mormons are never even referenced in the game

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17821047 Daniel Kolkena

      I’m Mormon and I loved the game. The religious fervor in the setting is period-appropriate for the turn-of-the-century zeitgeist the game is depicting. Mormons are an easy reference because, hey, we’re the quintessential 19th-century American religious example.  I saw nothing blasphemous or in poor or mean-spirited taste.

  • Crebralassassin .

    I wish the interviewer had consistently let Ken finish his sentences. I found his constant interruptions patronising and irritating.

  • Lusitan75

    Despite its pretensions (apparently swallowed wholesale by Ashbrook), this game is just another example of the violent, shoot-em-up garbage that is desensitizing our kids to violence.  

    • http://twitter.com/fingermittonz Tim Hogge

      The “shoot-em up garbage” you blame isn’t at fault. It’s the parents who don’t pay attention to the rating labels on games and allow their children to play games that they shouldn’t be playing that is at fault. 

    • http://twitter.com/RJonesEsquire Russell Jones

      An old, outdated argument with no actual facts to support it. Just this same “feeling” from a generation who doesn’t understand it and thus fears it, the same way they did certain books, comics, movies, and other forms of media.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1567410540 Kyle West

      Totally. After playing these desensitizing video games, I can just go out and kill men, women and children like there is no tomorrow and return home to sleep soundly. Isn’t life just one big video game anyways?

    • Helder Pinto

      Can’t believe people like you still think that is a valuable and compelling argument. Which is a completely stupid one, children have been exposed to violence since the dawn of times.

      Also, this is an M rated game, children shouldn’t be playing it in the first place as it is targeted to adults and not children. If you as a parent are as concerned about children as you seem to be, don’t buy them this game.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kevinjohnboehm Kevin Boehm

       Steam, an online software/game vendor, does not even allow you to look at the “brochure” for games like this without checking the user’s age.  If a parent buys a game and give it to their kid with these kinds of checks in place, it’s the parent’s fault.

      I’d bet you’re the kind of person that blames McDonald’s for people being fat, even though no one is forcing fat people to eat there.

      _People_ are the problem, not things.  _People_ who think things are the problem, are an even bigger problem themselves.

      • http://www.facebook.com/VisioPhobia Stu Adams

        Well said there.

      • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston

        Actually the Age Gate is a mandated security measure by the ESRB. That really is a joke made to appease the “For the love of the children.” pundits.

        But I do agree with your other points.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1643723587 Ruben Camacho

      Lusitan, others might reply to you in a more amicable way but I shall not. Because I believe stupid people should be told they are stupid and you…are stupid. You are ignorant and narrow minded. You assume things and shift blame in the wrong places. Your argument is pathetic.

      This game is ART. It’s an incredible piece of story telling and stands as a testament to how far the ability to tell stories has come. 

    • shrimppp

      I hate you and everything you represent. You are going to be part of the downfall of society. This game represents what it means to be open minded. Stop judging on things you will never understand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasssson Jason Rolph

      wow you are retarded

    • http://www.facebook.com/kiminoku.kenshi Kiminoku Kenshi

      well… it is rated M … so its up to the parents to monitor what their kids are and are not allowed to play… if this is how you see it don’t let your kids play… i for one think that with the story in this game (along with bioshock 1 and 2 ) makes the game worth wild, if you don’t like violence then don’t bother playing and complaining if you ask me. if it was really as bad as you feel like it is, don’t you think they wouldn’t sell ? also when you say ” …just another example of the violent, shoot-em-up garbage …” have you seen the crap such as call of duty ? this is a very mild contributor compared to that garbage. but of course since i don’t like it i don’t buy it to feed them the money they need to continue, if others like the game and feel its worth their time and their kid’s time then hey let em do i. free will.

    • shrimppp

      You are everything that is wrong with this world. I hate you and what you stand for. This game uses the term “open minded and free willed” to it’s full extent. Stop judging things that you can’t understand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pablo.andradecarranza Pablo Daniel Andrade-Carranza

       The violence in this art form is not any more or any less harmful than the violence in any other art form. It’s used to express and portray a very specific feeling when you experience it, much like a painting or a song. Where you see this game as something “desensitizing our kids to violence” I see something that is not meant for children. You wouldn’t show your child pornography would you? No, of course not, because it’s meant for adults. Pornography is not at fault for exposing sexuality to a child who is too young to understand it unless the parent expose them to it; either on purpose or accidentally by not being involved in the child’s life. Besides, what is more harmful to a child? Being exposed to simulated and exaggerated violence that is meant for a mature audience or passing down that it is better to quickly judge then it is to try and fully understand.

    • Xsdeaf

      Despite your retardation (apparently swallowed wholesale by stupid, easily brainwashed fun-haters), your comment is just another example of the holier-than-thou, bullheaded opposition to scientific fact that is basically the modern day equivalent of people thinking sexual books make children rapists.

    • http://twitter.com/LedTrousers J.T. Teague

      …Except that this is rated M for Mature, the equivalent of an R rating, so kids shouldn’t be playing this in the first place

    • Hilda Sallack

      Dude, c’mon. If you are going to trash an FPS, you are not choosing the right one. But you seem like a person that doesn’t play video games at all, if you aren’t going to make the distinction between THIS game and other shooters. Speaking as someone with an MFA and a healthy diet of video games for the last 22 years or so, I can say that Infinite is not only a masterpiece of gaming, but a masterpiece of any medium. The art direction is beyond description, completely sublime. A true marvel. The game isn’t even about gaming so much as it is an experience.

      As it turns out I am currently doing a research paper on video games and violence, and I might actually agree with you that these things, along with popular media in general, do in fact desensitize kids. But what is the bigger problem? Isn’t it the culture itself? Or the media? You represent the uninformed do-gooders who have no idea what video games are capable of and only look at the face value of the blood and guns. Art imitates life.

      Kids have way more access to this type of thing on primetime TV than they do in playing this game. I remind you, this game IS NOT meant for kids. The ESRB does a decent job I think, and so do most retailers in checking age. When I went to buy this game last week, the clerk ID’d me, even though I am a 200lb 28-year old bearded fellow. He even told me that clerks face severe fines and being fired for failing to so, much like cigarettes.

      Your grammar, syntax, and vocabulary make you SEEM like a relatively intelligent person. But you can be intelligent and ignorant at the same time.

    • Lusitan75

      Everyone is, and should be, free to create, purchase, and play these games.  And even if I think they are garbage, I would fight for everyone’s right to do so.  And you know what? I have little doubt that I would have fun playing this game.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not garbage.

      “Oooooh – it’s got floating cities!  Steampunky graphics!  Even meany white racists to massacre!  Yippeee!  Now I can get my fix of mowing people down while feeling smug and enlightened because, after all, they’re just white racists I’m shooting.  Take me seriously!  I am an art lover!”

      It’s amusing that my calling these first person killer, er, shooter, games “garbage” evokes such vehement attacks. (“You are everything that is wrong with this world. I hate you and what you stand for.”; “I hate you and everything you represent. You are going to be part of the downfall of society.”)  Awww, angry wittle boys, did somebody insult your toys? Did I bring up painful memories of high school years spent in your parents’ basement playing video games? Or are you still there?

      Hey!  Here’s a great, edgy new idea for a (yet another) first person killer game – a dystopian world full of people who think that these increasingly violent and increasingly realistic video games are like McDonald’s garbage food for the mind rather than art.  Those monsters!  Now, the shooter, or protagonist (after all, aren’t all protagonists shooters?) gets to KILL them.  ALL.  And watch their blood splatter all over cool steampunk stuff(and maybe rescue some black people along the way so they can feel even more awesome).  

      Or maybe, since some of you articulate gamers, I mean, “art lovers” are so upset about “retards” you can create a game where you pretend to get rid of those too.  You know, just the evil ones.

      I have a computer science degree, and I understand the effort that goes into creating these video games.  I understand the effort that goes into creating a Big Mac or GMO seeds, too.  But I’m entitled to think they are still junk, like Halloween candy or pesticide soaked Roundup-Ready soybeans, and I’m free to say so.  

      Several people have made comments refuting the influence of violent video games on children, as if thinking that violent video games influence children is as primitive as believing that the world is flat.  The issue is still being studied, but what has come to light so far is more supportive of the theory than not.  Use The Google to educate yourself.  Simulated violence is not consequence-free in its effects on children.

      And if you think that these games aren’t being played by many, many kids, then you are willfully ignorant.  (Oh, right – I forgot – they ask you to enter your date of birth on the website.  THAT will stop ‘em.)  Many parents are still clueless enough to think “they’re just games, what harm can they do?”  Well, that’s still an open question, and a troubling one. 

      Gee — and every year more and more kids end up as drugged up, learning disabled, ADD life-long cash cows for the pharmaceutical industry.  (hand wringing goes here) “Why oh why is this happening?  I just don’t understand . . . ”

      Now, this doesn’t mean I want to ban these violent games; never said that.  Some of you forgot to take your ADDERALL today.  I think cigarettes should be legal and accessible too, but I think a certain amount of stigma to them, rather than celebrating them, is in order.

      Someone commented that we shouldn’t let kids access
      pornography either.  Well, sure.  Does NPR hold serious
      discussions about really cool new porn that comes out?  No.  Do we have serious discussion about the benefits of recreational cocaine use?  No.  I actually think both of these things should be entirely legal, but I can still think it’s garbage.

      What really troubles me is that as technology allows us to create increasingly “real” simulations, should we look forward to the First Person Torturer games that will allow you to waterboard, burn, and dismember those evil Klansmen or Jihadists?  How about a First Person Rapist game (of course, only to be used in a game set in a funky, steampunk, dystopian world where mutant, blonde haired, blue eyed, Nazi females are carrying out a genocide against everyone else, and raping them is the ONLY way to activate their self destruct mechanisms . . . and save lots of black people)?  

      A thin layer of fantasy justification (“they’re white racists!”) for violence is still just a flimsy excuse to play killer and shoot people in your little simulated reality.  

      I guess a strategy game where to overcome a simulated unjust society you had to organize and carry out a campaign of civil disobedience as taught by Ghandi and MLK would just be, ya know, way too boring for you Very Serious Art Lovers. Too much thinking.  Let’s just blow ‘em all away and then wait for the old folks at NPR to call to hear all about this cutting edge “art” we’ve got.

      There’s absolutely a free speech right to all of these
      games, but it doesn’t mean I have to take them seriously.  And I’m free to criticize them.

      There is a difference between reading a story about violence and a simulation where you carry out the violence yourself in a virtual world of a “game.”  There’s a difference between watching a film where some characters kill and a simulation where you step into the virtual shoes of the person carrying out those murders, and are asked to do so over and over (and over) again.  And I think as technology improves this issue will only become more and more troubling.

      When some cool new game hits the market that isn’t a first person shooter game involving staring down the barrel of a gun and repeatedly killing people, I’d be very interested in hearing a serious discussion about it.  Meanwhile, more first person shooters are just more Wolfenstein, with better graphics.

      • Anon Ymous

        While I do not agree with every point you’ve made, you still make a few decent points. I remember a game in “danger” of being released a few years back under the working title “Martyr.” If memory serves me right, the premise had to do with playing as a German soldier during WWII who, through the course of the gameplay/storyline, ended up being a defector and killing Hitler, or some such related shenanigans. Needless to say, the game never saw the light of day for rather obvious reasons. Yet I can waste any number of hapless virtual Germans (or better yet, those shady “Japs”) all day/night long in any number of various period-based shooters. This is in direct contrast to any number of games which, even though involving so-called “modern’ and “terrorist” based plots, explicitly shy away from using individuals of the Arabian persuasion to illustrate this point, instead choosing to default to those mean ol’ Cold War standbys the Russians or the new “flavor of the week” baddy, the Chinese. Allah forbid we offend the virtual Middle East after all, but let’s keep sending Daisuke, Dieter, and Dimitri straight to virtual hell for our a(b)musement.

      • DillonMcDougald

        Games of significant artistic merit that don’t involve looking down the barrel of a gun (or indeed any violence beyond the tameness of a Looney Tunes episode):

        1.) Journey
        2.) Braid
        3.) Bastion
        4.) The Secret of Monkey Island
        5.) Psychonauts

        I could keep going, but I’ve made my point, and I don’t want to waste your precious time.  Suffice it to say that I’d like to hear more serious discussion about these sorts of games myself.

        I understand your bias against first-person shooters–I think that most are absolute garbage–but I don’t know what else to say other than that BioShock: Infinite is so much more than just another steampunky first-person shooter.  If you can’t or won’t believe that, I won’t waste time (again, I suppose) to try and convince you: I honestly think it’s your loss, and I’m sorry for that. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/cullen.tapprich Cullen Tapprich

    NPR is covering video games. One more reason why NPR is awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasssson Jason Rolph


  • http://twitter.com/plenau Pete Lenau

    Here’s a clue, if you have never played this game (or probably any game) and just want to regurgitate what you heard some politician say about “violence simulators”, then do the world a favor and shut up.  Sensationalized media and fear tactics for ratings are no excuse for your ignorance.  The NRA published their own game!  Wake up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.bachan Martin Bachan

    I don’t see this game in the future gaming because althought it was graphical class, it loses the choice how can the player affect the plot or ending. I think that to express reality is necessary to give to the player an option to influence because without it is even impossible to move the experience to real life. In Dishonored it was greatly made, because game offered two paths – Evil and Good which taugh to player that its actions can influence the world more that he can imagine.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669493883 Andreas Bengtsson

      I think the interactive narrative is what makes it special, not the choices. You discover and puzzle together the narrative through the audio logs (or voxophones) and that is what makes it special just as what made the original Bioshocki and System Shock 2 special. Puzzling it altogether is more the fulfilling if you as the player is part of putting it together

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669493883 Andreas Bengtsson

        I don´t personally think moral choices is the way of the future, it´s how the narrative is presented to the player and how he/she can intereact with it.

    • http://twitter.com/LedTrousers J.T. Teague

      SPOILERS: I wish there would’ve been at least some sort of morality system in the game, but also I sort of viewed the lack of choices as part of the narrative: no matter what choices the DeWitt you’re playing as makes, you’ll always become/became Comstock in that universe. Even in the end, I think it was mentioned that Choice is an Illusion

      • http://twitter.com/MarRav3 Working class hero

        I shot the black slaves sleeping in the beds at that slave safehouse! I thought the authorities would go easy on me but alas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fahsky3 Lauren Smith

       Its all about the role of the player – the original Bioshock questioned what separates a man from a slave. Infinite pulls back in scope & observes that man is a slave to time.

      SPOILERS AHEAD  Booker DOES have a choice, & one choice only: To be baptized & reborn, or to accept his past & move forward. In the infinite realities, this is the constant choice – everything we experience in the game, as players, that appears to be a choice (throw the ball at the interracial couple or Fink, give Elizabeth the bird or the cage choker necklace, shoot the bartender or do not shoot him, kill Slate or spare Slate) are just meaningless variables in relation to the constant that occurs in each alternate reality. Booker will always be mentally scarred at Wounded Knee – he will always seek to ‘wipe his slate clean’ through the baptism in the river – he will always either be baptized & reborn, or go on as Booker Dewitt.

      Sorry to make a rambling circular statement, but I just beat the game last night & its spinning around in my mind still!

    • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston

      It is going towards the future, it only takes a different path to the same destination. There are other games that explore “good” and “evil” personality dynamics and give the player greater control (ex: Mass Effect 3). Each has its points that further the goal of elevating games to a new level of art.

    • Michael Phelan

       I think that the point of the choices in game wasn’t to give you a sense of choice, but instead a lack of choice. (attention: spoilers abound)
      If you played the game, you know that the Luteces are pretty much just screwing with you the whole time. Colombia, Comstock, Dewitt, Elizabeth… they’re all just variables in the Lutece’s experiment (remember the beginning of the game?). Some things are the same with each iteration of the experiment, like the coin will always land heads, Booker will always kill Comstock in the zeppelin. Other times, things will be different, like the bird or the cage pendant. As Elizabeth said, they’re just constants and variables, but the story is always the same. That’s what the choices are. They’re not moral, they’re just symbolic of the futility of Dewitt to control his own fate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.sithiamnuai Jeffrey Sithi-Amnuai

    People can’t really comment on the game unless they beat it. Inferring an opinion from what you heard or read can only work so far. 

    It would be like commenting on the entire story of Lord of the Rings but haven’t even gotten to the Return of the King yet. 

  • http://twitter.com/muddythecat Chris Kelly

    Loved the game! Loved Bioshock and all the discussions about BSI ending. Great games are better than great movies. The only thing I would like to see is Emma Watson play Elizabeth on screen or better yet get an Emma Watson skin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emokid54 Mark Anthony Ball Jr

    Great game. Amazing graphics, its just awesome. Just hoping for add ons. alot of them. 

  • pcbills

    So glad they addressed the similarity to Mormonism–I’ve been wondering about that ever since I started reading about the story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=689482506 Matt Schlaud

    I’ve noticed that the people who really correlate games with actual acts of violence are always people that don’t play them. Much in the same way many people who burned Harry Potter books for glorifying witchcraft never read them. It’s ignorance of the medium that gives people these fears. It really rubbed me the wrong way when Adam Lanza was brought into the discussion, and the hosted acted as if it is a foregone conclusion that video games were the responsible motivator. First I’ve never played a game, and I’ve played a lot of violent games, where you are encouraged to walk into a schoolhouse and mass murder children. I think a person has to have a predilection to commit violent acts in order to do so. I don’t think that any entertainment medium is a magic mind control device that can make somebody act on impulses they didn’t already have and i wish people would stop acting like it is.

    • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston

      Well said. On the Adam Lanza point I keep thinking back to the misplaced outcry when it was first, erroneously, reported that he played Mass Effect 3. The amount of ignorant vitriol that hit Bioware’s Facebook page was both hilarious and disturbing.

  • Nace Imperial

    I WIsh There Was A Multiplayer

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maxim-Yurevich/100004512852094 Maxim Yurevich

       Bad idea

  • Steven Heimerdinger

    Ken Levine- u tagged LDS & Joseph Smith as models for the villain & evil society… WOW, never buying an Irrational game again.

  • Stick

    Fun game idiotic storytelling … The end battle ruined the overall game . It felt like COD meets bioshock on steroids

  • geralldus

    Fantastic – never seen a video game before, well I am 62!
    The concern I have is that, if this is a taste of the future fantasy worlds we can create, won’t it be sad when people fail to realise that they have a rich and fantastic world within themselves anyway.
    Possibly even worse, is that people could grow to believe that the only world is that which they can see outside themselves and one that is often created by others. Then will the insane be classed as those who know that they have a strange and wonderful, often largely unconscious, world within themselves.
    Worth a thought!

  • Lusitan75

    “I played Bioshock 1 when I was 13″

    But . . . but . . . it was rated “M” 17+ . . . I’m shocked, shocked, that you were playing this game as a 13 year old!

  • Lusitan75

    Shoot First, Ask Questions Later - BioShock Infinite wants to be deep and philosophical, but it’s just one big hail of bullets.

    “Infinite uses philosophy as a set dressing, but it’s unwilling to abandon fun-centric gunplay in favor of deeper philosophic engagement.”

    And if there’s one thing we should be celebrating, it’s fun-centric gunplay!

    • DillonMcDougald

      I feel the author of this Slate article rather missed the point.  Yes, the political philosophy is set dressing in BioShock: Infinite’s case, but not only for gunplay.  At its core, Bioshock: Infinite is about investigating the nature of video games as an art form, as well as the extent to which player choice informs this concept.  Hence the multiverse aspect: each individual playthrough represents one possible universe, with all possible universes united through constants and variables, the variables being player choice and the constants being the game’s level design, art assets, and core story.

    • DillonMcDougald

      Also: there’s a bit of a difference between “the game didn’t explore the idea enough” and “I don’t like the conclusion that the game arrived at regarding the idea.”  I have a suspicion that the Slate author confused these two.

  • http://profiles.google.com/museredux dm conner

    Of course myths and assumptions don’t shape the real world. Except that they always have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Smith/100005674592750 Jessica Smith

    Check out how to get Bioshock infinite FREE!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gU257kR4R0E

  • http://www.facebook.com/lori.cerny.7 Lori Cerny

    When the song “Will the Circle be Unbroken” was reprised during the credits, I full out cried.  And when I talk with friends about the game, I say, “WE entered the toy shop” or “WE fought a patriot” – I was completely enveloped into the story. 

    Thank you, Ken Levine!

  • 228929292AABBB

    It will be a flop because it’s too late for dystopia in the market, the kids are tired of choking on it.  This is the problem with a bunch of adults trying to do something that takes years on a large scale for kids, kids tastes move fast. I mean listen to the guy ‘well we were interested in the period after the spanish-american war’. Well, if Ken Burns bought all the video games they’d be in clover.

    It makes no difference how clever a passe video game is.  These guys should have used all that talent to make avatar pornography instead, it could free real people from real bondage by providing an alternative, and it never goes out of style.

    • William Harris

      Context: I played through the game 2 weeks ago. I am still thinking about it every day since. It’s an incredibly well made game, and furthermore, an extremely well made piece of ART as well as a reflection of society: where we came from, where we currently are, and where we are going.

      Will we repeat the mistakes of our past? Racism, class warfare, religious extremism, nationalist extremism: these are concepts that should have been relegated to annals of 19th century history. YET, HERE WE ARE, MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES OF OUR FATHERS.

      Class warfare still exists, only in blurred lines that are not easily defined. Racism brews beneath the surface of society, not openly eschewed as had once been, but ingrained into the American education system in ways that are not publicized and made easily manifest for the public to see. Yesterday’s issues with civil rights have become today’s issue of gay rights.

      Bioshock Infinite defies it’s own medium by allowing those to play it to reflect on deep issues of morality and social civility in a context that is fantastical and immersive. Once we take off the rose colored glasses of our everyday lives and step into the world of Columbia, we can see just how absurd our world has become by living in the world of the game. Things that shock us or make us laugh or cry or incite us to violence are the same things that would move us in our real world had we not become so jaded and inundated by the reality of just how impotent we have become as gears in the great political and commercial and industrial machine of modern America.

      Ken Levine refers to violence as a tool in his toolbox, and he could not be more correct in this regard.

      Conservative armchair critics of the video game medium so easily forget that the first family of the old testament were not averse to violence. Cain slayed his brother Abel and set in course the so bloody history of humanity. We have no factual evidence that Cain or Abel even existed, only written traditional religious text can support this story. From there on we can recount the bloody and violent history of the Christian God leading his people out of captivity and growing them into a nation by way of political maneuvering and at other times by way of wanton bloodshed of other nations and peoples.

      This is just one example where the conservative morale policing of media that they themselves do not fully understand falls apart.

      Violence, when used properly within a narrative context, allows for the player to draw his/her own conclusions on morality, and ultimately within bioshock infinite, reveals a deeper level of human connection with that window of violence within ourselves and the world around us.

      We live in a violent world. Even without video games, movies, books, comics, dungeons and dragons, alcohol, religion, or each and every medium under the sun: HUMAN BEINGS ARE VIOLENT IN NATURE, AND WE ARE ALSO GOOD IN NATURE. We will find ways to kill each other, and we will find ways to go on a society together. It is an eternal struggle that for ages we have struggled with, and will continue to struggle with towards ultimately the next stage of our evolutionary development, or towards our bitter end.

      On an interview with NPR Fresh Air with Terry Gross on Jan 2 2013, Quentin Tarantino was questioned (pretty much grilled) about his use of violence as a common thread that is woven throughout his films. As the Newtown shooting had just happened only a few days prior to the interview, it was a timely question. With particular regard was DJango Unchained and the use of portrayal of wanton violence in this film. Tarantino had to literally defend his work, citing that the violence that happened during the time of slavery were more brutal, bloody, and unbelievable than anything ever pictured within his film. The violence was a delivery method to which we can view a somewhat sterilized view of southern slavery and our modern reaction to it. He wasn’t aiming to glorify violence as much as he was aiming to allow us, as viewers to vent our anger and our divine humanitarian retribution at what we, as a people allowed ourselves to do to each other a century and a half ago. We allow ourselves, momentarily, to become Django, to experience cruelty and injustice, to exert our unholy anger to and exploit what we would feel would be justice in a modern interpretation.

      In short, it was just stupid that he was even asked that question. He is a film maker making films in 2013. Film makers have been using violence as a literary tool for decades. It was on some level even insulting to him, and was a dark spot in what was otherwise a great interview.

      I implore you, if you have not played bioshock infinite, or do not wish to play or experience it, read about it and player’s reactions to the game and it’s ultimate conclusion. You will see much much more than the buckets of blood and bullets that you may seem to have gleaned upon first glance.

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
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