Bioshock Infinite and Political Messages in Gaming

Are video games art?  This is a question that has been argued many times by a variety of different people from film critics to gamers.  However, whenever video games attempt to tackle a subject that is a deep political issue, there is a backlash.  Christopher Franklin, creator of the video this article was based on, said, “They want to proclaim their hobby to be art with no strings attached… They want their want games to have tremendous power, but without any responsibility.”

For example, in Irrational Games’ 2013 smash hit Bioshock Infinite there is a scene near the beginning where the main character is given the opportunity to throw a baseball at a couple because they were mixed race.  However, this is a game that takes place in a fictional flying city that was once a United State before leaving the Union in 1902.  The entire game is filled with propaganda, whether it be racially driven or deeply rooted in Christian beliefs.  One such incident took place where a picture from the game of George Washington holding the Liberty Bell in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other surrounded by racist caricatures of Hispanics and Asians with a caption that said, “For God and Country.  It is out Holy Duty to guard against the foreign hordes.”  This picture was posted on a Tea Party Facebook page defending America’s “Holy Roots.”  This game was met with much controversy in the sense that its offensive portrayals of Blacks, Asians, and Non-Christians were everywhere to help create a more in-depth and believable world.

If we gamers want Video Games to be seen as art, we need to accept that a game may offend us.  Art makes a statement and Bioshock Infinite, along with other games, definitely make a statement that makes people question what they believe and how strongly they believe it.