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The political implications of the Bioshock franchise

Bioshock is a video game franchise centering around the player entering a strange supposedly utopian city falling into disarray as its society breaks apart (Rapture, an underwater city isolated from the rest of the world free from governmental, religious and ethical control, and Columbia, a flying city theocracy embodying and literally worshipping late 18th century American ideals) run by a megalomaniacal idealist with twisted morals (Andrew Ryan, an ultra-individualist, and Zachary Comstock, an ultra-nationalist). Write about the political backdrops of the Bioshock franchise, analyzing what ideology each game is criticizing through narrative and gameplay mechanics and what is being said about them. Analyze the political messages implied by the cities and their inhabitants. What is being said about the political ideologies presented? What caused the downfall of the societies and how is it affected by their political systems?


    What do you want from a new Bioshock game?

    Bioshock was a revered and renown franchise but except for a remaster of the original 3 games, the series has been quiet since Irrational games closed. With the recent announcement of a secret new Bioshock project called "parkside", there is a chance we will see a new game from the series. What do you want to see out of a new Bioshock game? What new setting would fit a new game? What mechanics would you want to see?

    • I would like a new Bioshock game in the vein of the original. Arkane has shown that the immersive sim genre is not entirely dead in the AAA sphere with Dishonored and Prey. The immersive sim is such a unique genre that could really benefit from having more developers involved in it. The two main things I hope for are pretty cynical but I think they're important. One is that I hope 2K doesn't continue with the AAA trend of nickel & diming players at every turn. I've been pretty burnt out on the AAA scene due to excessive mircotransactions, lootboxes, and game design trends that are meant to get as much time and money from the players as possible. I don't have faith in 2K to no do this, however. The second thing is that I hope the developers learn from Bioshock: Infinite. That game failed on so many levels I'm baffled it got any praise. From its design to its story to its themes, everything about Infinite was a step back from the original. Arkane may not make the greatest immersive sims, but they are good examples of how to make that sort of game in the modern AAA sphere. – Scott Dewalt 6 years ago

    Does Bioshock (2007) serve as an examination of Jewish identity?

    In the first Bioshock game, a large number of characters have Jewish names (Dr. Steinman, Sander Cohen), are outright identified as Jewish (Andrew Ryan, Brigid Tenenbaum), or come from fields/careers with a strong Jewish population (Broadway, medicine). The creator of the Bioshock series, Ken Levine, is himself Jewish, and the game takes place only a few short years after World War 2. This causes me to wonder: for Levine, was this game, in part, an examination of post-WWII Jewish identity? Does it point out hardships or condemn/commend personal choices? The game’s overarching theme, if nothing else, is that choices matter and are our ultimate freedom ("A man chooses, a slave obeys"). How is this theme connected with the strong Jewish characters throughout the game?

    • If you watch or listen to interviews with Ken Levine, this is something that he is conscious of (his own heritage and that of his characters). What the take away from game is, I am not sure, but I think this is a valuable idea to explore. – SeanGadus 8 years ago
    • You should watch a gamespot interview with him called "We Can Kill The Industry With Cynicism" - Ken Levine - Bioshock" – Sean Gadus 7 years ago