Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Philosophy of a Video Game

A fascinating article about Bioshock, and why it deserves to be named 2007's Game of the Year. Equally interesting is that the same author considered Gears of War to be his 2006 game of the year for almost competely opposite reasons.

Anyway, I wanted to mention it because he does an even better job than my previous post of describing how amazing the environment of Bioshock is. He calls Bioshock a "coherent work of art", which I completely agree with. As a video game, it may well be groundbreaking in that sense. But I can't agree with his claim that the game is a "rebuttal of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and her philosophy of objectivism." If you read Rand, you're sure to notice that she charges government with the protection of life, not the open encouragement of lawlessness and murder. In fact, I can't recall a single Rand hero that had tortured bodies hanging from hooks in his office.

I'm not sure how philosophically engaging Bioshock is at all, imagined slights against Atlas Shrugged aside...calling it "a game about the illusion of choice and about the flawed dream of freedom — both in society at large and the medium of video games" seems to be reading too much into the drearily common plot twist and lack of meaningful options. The designers of Bioshock are hardly the first "philosophers" to explore the consequences of anarchy and its meaning to those who value freedom.

But I suppose it's infinitely more philosophical than Halo 3 or Wii Tennis. When you're a hard-core gamer, you have to take your philosophy where you can find it.


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