Introduction• ‘BioShock Infinite’ is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. Previously known as "Project Icarus" in development, it was released worldwide on the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 26, 2013. ‘BioShock Infinite’ is the third instalment in the ‘BioShock’ series, and though it is not part of the storyline of previous ‘BioShock’ games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes. The game is set in the fictional Columbia, a floating air city, 1912. The player controls the protagonist, Booker De Witt, who has been sent to rescue Elizabeth, The femme fatale.
Setting• The games setting is key to the story and the game play of BioShock. The Issue of racism in the game is seen when black people are seen as second class citizens. This keeps up with the 1912 setting and the views of the people back them. There is a strong link with religion in this game and is shown throughout the game. It could be said that Columbia is a basis for a cult who believe in a prophet (the antagonist) while being protected and living in fear of a giant robotic bird. There is also a massive angel that overlooks the city. The 1912 setting helps show how postmodern the game is by combining new and old and science and religion. The city had been ravaged by a civil war between ‘the Founder’s’ and the ‘Vox populi’ much like a civil war had happened in america.
• ‘BioShock Infinite’ has genre hybridity due to it featuring elements of thriller, film noir and sci-fi. The player utilizes lasers and faces up against gigantic robot birds. The setting it self is futuristic due to the city floating in the clowds, but the city itself is reminiscent of the Victorian era or the American ‘wild west’. There are moments when Victoria will tear a whole into a different dimension or world. Due to the mystery behind the mission you undertake and the detective work that features in the game, while you can avoid doing this reading, watching and listening develop your own understanding of the game and the plot it self. Also there are scenes in black and white which give the game a gritty film-noir feel. The game is quiet fast paced and there is constant action and suspense leading to the game incorporating elements from the thriller genre. The game is similar to blade runner in that it combines the same genre characteristics as each other.
• The game features references to the ‘real’ world. The player comes across a barber shop quartet who start singing ‘god only knows’ by the beach boys. At one point Victoria tears into a dimension depicting a 1912 Paris. Here we can see at the local cinema a film called ‘revenge of the Jedi’ is being played. ‘Revenge of the Jedi was the original working title for ‘star Wars: Return of the Jedi’. The floating city it self is meant to be a battleship, reminiscent of the Death Star in Star Wars It also references previous BioShock games by briefly showing you the setting for the previous two games ‘Rapture’.
Video games follow the emergent narrative or the fixednarratives. Emergent narratives are unscripted storiesthat come out of a game’s play, they may includedramatic character arcs in The Sims, and alternatehistories created by Civilization V matches. Fixednarratives are stories determined by the game designer,and are most prominent in single-player narrative gamessuch as BioShock Infinite. Which is a topic BioShockInfinite addresses in its brilliant, mind-bending ending.Booker and Elizabeth escape Columbia through aninterdimensional portal into the Sea of Lighthouses, amysterious world beyond the constraints of time andspace where every possible permutation of the universeat any possible time in history can be accessed throughan infinite number of doors. “There are a million, millionworlds. All different and all similar. Constants andvariables. There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always aman, there’s always a city… Sometimes something’sdifferent… yet… the same.” says Elizabeth
• The last scene contains lots of metacommentary about the distinction and conflicts between embedded and emergent narrative. Everyone who plays BioShock Infinite will be telling a different story in their play through. Combat situations will play out differently depending on player strategies, Booker may or may not find all the collectible upgrades in Columbia, he may spend hours playing carnival games at the fair, he may ride the carousel in Soldier’s Field, and he may scour every trash can in Columbia for food. These are the “variables” that Elizabeth is talking about, the “million, million worlds” that are all different and the same, BioShock Infinite‘s story is comprised of an infinite number of permutations coming out of the game’s emergent nature.
• And yet, the rich range of narrative permutations that come out of interactivity is mooted by authorial intent and traditional narrative. The choices you are given such as ‘Bird or Cage’, ‘ride the carousel or ignore it’, ‘fight with guns or Vigors’, Bioshock Infinite‘s overarching narrative will always play out the same way regardless of player choice. All this is reinforced by the game’s single ending. While many games try to make player choice meaningful by providing a variety of outcomes based on player’s participation in the story, Infinite mocks the idea by making players powerless over the progression and ultimate outcome of the game’s plot. These are “constants”, the elements of a game narrative that are “always the same”. Players are led by prior experiences with similar games to think that these binary choices matter with respect to the game’s narrative, and by subverting these expectations by making these choices almost irrelevant to the game’s conclusion, BioShock Infinite raises questions about whether or not truly meaningful choice can really exist within a designer-driven narrative.