Dear Developers: Irrational Games, Is The Violence Necessary?
Dear Irrational Games,
I loved your last game. BioShock Infinite was freaking awesome. I’m sure you’re aware of how much praise and love gamers now have for Booker, Elizabeth, and Columbia. And maybe it’s because I liked BioShock Infinite so much that I can’t abide one defining blemish.
I’m referring to the game’s redundant violence. Of course, BioShock Infinite is a shooter and action is imperative and wonderful in its narrative. What I’m speaking to is the unnecessary bits, i.e. the gameplay’s reliance on the enter-large-room-murder-dozens-of-people mechanic. The highlight of my BioShock experience, as I’m sure is the case for many, was the story. I would find myself trudging through some of the more grandiose battles because I only wanted to progress to the next chapter.
Obviously, you had to make a successful game and it’s pretty obvious what consumers want. We want violence. I know people say they want Journey, but they buy Call of Duty. So I knew what I was getting into when I picked up the controller. But BioShock Infinite delivered more than a Call of Duty plot. A few segments in the narrative highlighted my reflex violence. Near the end, it felt like a burden to kill all these people. I wanted to skip all of it.
Although you spent so long making this game and I’d expect every part of this game’s design to be intentional, I somehow don’t think you’d want anything in your game to feel tedious. Irrational Games, I wished you would have stepped even further away from the traditional FPS and focused on a more integrated story.
The stigma around video games is improving. People think well of gaming and the people who play them. The medium is taken more seriously. Video games have even found a place at the Museum of Modern Art. The BioShock legacy, which has been a tremendous force in changing the game industry’s image so far, should continue to be responsible in making gaming more meaningful as a medium.
You enter a level. You see tears and environmental weapons to exploit. Obviously there will be a fight. Sure enough, you step forward and the enemies swarm in. Lots of awesome explosions and gunfire later, you move on to the next level eagerly awaiting the next development in the story only to find another room with more tears and things to shoot.
BioShock accomplishes so much greatness in its story. But I worry what people may see when they return to the game. As the industry continues to change, could the redundant violence mar the experience of the player returning to your beautiful world?
A devoted player,