Right now, BioShock: Infinite is the most talked about game on the market, which is entirely understandable. In an industry where developers are always under heavy pressure to cut cost, Infinite spent nearly four years in the oven and reportedly cost about $200 million to develop and market. And even though it might be a while before 2K Games can recoup their investment, the impact that BioShock will have on the industry makes it one of the most important games ever made. After all, not many other games can inspire people to write songs while simultaneously sparking questions about the storyline's philosophical merit.
Sure, the next Call of Duty title will probably sell more copies, but the fact that BioShock has enjoyed such mainstream success proves that gamers are ready for more thought-provoking titles. The game's storyline isn't perfect, to be sure, but that's not really the point.
The point, at least from my perspective, is the fact that we're all arguing about it. Kris Piotrowski, an indie developer from Capybara Games, recently said that "Bioshock Infinite isn't the answer to our problems. It is the best example of them." And ABC's Daniel Golding criticized Infinite's use of racism as "superficial." Plus, the complexity, or perhaps confusion, of the game's storyline has sparked a number of debates around the internet.
This isn't the type of conversation that video games normally inspire.
Video games have a reputation for being a little brainless. And even though this reputation isn't entirely fair, it's certainly not underserved. Video games, especially mainstream titles, aren't interested in creating a thought-provoking experience, and BioShock Infinite has broken free from that mold. It's given journalists and fans a platform to discuss modern gaming as a piece of art, or philosophy, or literature. It forces us to ask questions about the decisions we make, and the values we hold, which sounds strange even as I write it.
Even if you hated BioShock Infinite, you have to admit one thing: It made us all smarter. The plot had a few holes, and the experience wasn't flawless, but the effects that it has had on the industry, and the conversations that it's inspiring, have pushed the video game industry away from the brainless bloodbaths that we've grown accustomed too. And that’s a very good thing.
Date: April 12, 2013