Infinite Bioshock and aesthetic aspects of storytelling in games

"Infinite possibilities" sounds like a hollow advertising slogan for a laptop company or sports equipment brand. The reason it feels hollow is that our lives are often very linear. Considering all the possible possibilities and all the different things that could have been done makes the linearity of human life a little sad. This is one of the reasons why we are so interested in fictional works. Fictional works are basically fictional stories in which we get to know different people, points of view and worlds. Bioshock Infinite is a fictional work that allows you to see a world where the linear process of life is overshadowed by countless worlds where infinite possibilities are possible. Storytelling in BioShock Infinite is truly a form of art. "They are not stars; The gate." Elizabeth

BingMag.com Infinite Bioshock and aesthetic aspects of storytelling in games

"Infinite possibilities" sounds like a hollow advertising slogan for a laptop company or sports equipment brand. The reason it feels hollow is that our lives are often very linear. Considering all the possible possibilities and all the different things that could have been done makes the linearity of human life a little sad. This is one of the reasons why we are so interested in fictional works. Fictional works are basically fictional stories in which we get to know different people, points of view and worlds. Bioshock Infinite is a fictional work that allows you to see a world where the linear process of life is overshadowed by countless worlds where infinite possibilities are possible. Storytelling in BioShock Infinite is truly a form of art. "They are not stars; The gate." Elizabeth

As you walk through the endless ocean of lighthouses, wooden planks appear before your feet. At first, the ending of BioShock Infinite may seem insane, but there is a logic behind it. Ken Levine, formerly the director of innovation at Irrational Games and creator of BioShock, thinks a lot about stories. In an interview with the gaming site Polygon, he talked about a thought experiment he had been thinking about with "Narrative Legos": basically, it's about building an interactive story using the basic elements of It is storytelling. So if the person who thinks about these things is the director of a game's innovation, you can be sure that the game's story will be taken seriously.

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  • Does the ending of BioShock Infinite make sense? A Philosophical Look at This Matter

Storytelling is important, perhaps much more than most of us think. For example, consider Comstock's religious bigotry; The prejudice that made him call his city Columbia "New Eden". Comstock is aware of the power of stories and founded Columbia based on distorted historical and biblical narratives. He invented the legend of the "Lamb of Columbia" - a legend about Elizabeth, the savior and Christ of Columbia, the city in the sky. It is only because of this story that the whole of Colombia mobilizes against Booker after finding him at the party, calling him the "false shepherd". Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, was also aware of the power hidden in stories. However, unlike Comstock he did not use fiction to support religious tyranny. Plato wrote dialogues in which characters discuss philosophical issues such as the definition of justice or virtue, or the good way to live. But sometimes Plato's characters discuss mythology. These myths are related to the philosophical question at hand, but they convey an important point by telling stories about the gods and heroes that the Greeks loved. Even in Plato's time, stories were of special importance.

If you think about it, stories have a unique potential to effectively convey information, warm the engine of the brain, and affect human emotions. Ideologies use this to their advantage. In Bioshock Infinite, Comstock uses the distortion and rewriting of historical fiction to support his fascist and xenophobic regime. Colombians enthusiastically support white supremacy because a religious leader tells them a narrative that the fate of America depends on this xenophobia. So stories can be dangerous because of their inherent power. But why do they have such power? Jonathan Gottschall, a literary researcher, argues that humans have an innate desire for stories. As Gatskell says, in fiction we simulate or practice "problematic" situations, and this may help our ability to cope with these situations in the real world. Now, speaking of coping, remember this dialogue from Robert Lutece: "The subject's mind tries helplessly to create memories that do not exist." One reason that can be given for the brain's effort to create memories is that the mind needs memories that are part of a coherent story, a story that helps us better understand ourselves and the rest of the world. The whole plot of the game is about Booker, his debt, and the girl he has to save to clear his debt. Dealing with disturbances caused by traveling between multiple parallel worlds.

BingMag.com Infinite Bioshock and aesthetic aspects of storytelling in games

The idea that we have of stories and stories is a tool of entertainment. But there is a lot of power in stories to influence others, an influence that sometimes goes as far as brainwashing. One of the skills of Comstock, the villain of Bioshock Infinite, is that he is very good at dressing his ideology in twisted stories from the Bible and American history and presenting it in a way that makes it impossible to refute. Because how can the story be rejected? The story is the individual truth of the person who tells it. Therefore, if a story is defined on the scale of a nation, it becomes the truth of that nation, a truth that cannot be dealt with by reasoning and logic.

Stories are also important for video games. The story of BioShock Infinite is one of the reasons why audiences around the world connected with it. During the combat, you try to defeat the enemies, survive and shoot the Motorized Patriots and Handymen and burn, explode and electrocute them. In other words, you are involved in interactive risk. The gaming experience is not the same as watching a movie that you can watch as a neutral audience. You have to show skill to advance in the game. Both Rapture and Columbia are among the most memorable locations in the game world. Due to the fact that a lot of innovation has been used in the design of both environments, the player gets involved in the game very quickly. In normal mode, the player is not just looking to kill a few enemies (there are other games with better combat systems), but to explore the game world. When you break away from the main storyline to explore a building or listen to another voxophone, your goal isn't just to finish the game. You're playing the game because you want to immerse yourself in its world and the story it's trying to tell. So BioShock Infinite is a good example of a game that shows why we can call some video games art.

(Footnote: Of course, this does not mean that gameplay and story are unrelated. They might explore the world so they can make better decisions. The surprising thing about BioShock Infinite is that those decisions don't affect the end game.)

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that deals with art. ) is called Art is one of those concepts that is hard to define, and for this reason, it has become a bit infamous. What is the point of classifying a painting by Paul Czanne in the same subgenre as a postmodern dance or a Bauhaus building or an avant-garde poem? No matter how hard you try to define the inherent quality or qualities of art, there will always be an instance of infringement. This is the nature of human creativity. Putting these difficulties aside, we are going to focus on an American philosopher named John Dewey (1859-1952). If you ask most people to give an example of a work of art, they will name a series of novels, poems, paintings or a particular symphony. Dewey had a different opinion about art. In his opinion, art is not about objects, but about experiences. That is, art includes not only paintings, but also seeing paintings; Art includes not only poetry, but also reading poetry. This statement also includes video games like BioShock Infinite.

If you think the question "Is BioShock Infinite art or not" is worth asking, consider this: In this particular case, we have What are we asking about? We are not asking about DVDs or game files and folders. We are not curious about the rows of zeros and ones that make up the game code. When we ask if BioShock Infinite is art, we're talking about the experience of playing it. In other words, we are asking whether this experience is "aesthetic" or not. The question we are asking is whether game designers and programmers have managed to create a work that can be enjoyed aesthetically or not.

In Dovey's opinion, the experience of art is not much different from everyday experiences. Art does not belong to an alien realm. When you fall into the role of Booker, you can identify with him. His motivation is to clear his debt, so he embarks on a seemingly clichd "save the maiden" mission. As the story progresses, the emotional force at the heart of the story becomes stronger, and the main subject of the story is no longer debt, but a father's sins, regrets and guilt, and forming an emotional bond with Elizabeth. In some ways, you virtually become a booker. You live through the beginning, middle and end of the BioShock Infinite story. From the moment the Lotuses drop you off at the lighthouse to the moment you pick Anna up from her crib, you're experiencing the narrative as an organic union. In the end, maybe even from Use Dovey's term: "It was an experience." Adventure in Colombia and parallel worlds is not just an experience among other experiences, but a unique experience. According to Dewey, this is a sign of an aesthetic experience. Playing BioShock Infinite from start to finish is a completely meaningful experience. Despite the fact that the game's storyline is "vague" according to Levine, this statement is true.

BingMag.com Infinite Bioshock and aesthetic aspects of storytelling in games

Does a painting, sculpture or book of poetry count as art? Not quite, according to American philosopher John Dewey. For Dewey, art is an experience, not an object. For art to happen, you have to look at that painting or sculpture and feel it. Dewey's theory about art is very effective because it prevents objectification and a superficial view of works of art. On the other hand, this view makes it difficult to answer the question, "Are video games art or not?" Put very simply: every video game is an experience. From the heart of this experience, one can get sublime feelings. So a game can also be art.

Constants and variables

But can BioShock Infinite really be considered a work of art? Is the experience of playing it equal to the experience of reading a novel? If so, we can use the concept of aesthetics to better understand what is going on when Booker and Elizabeth enter the Rapture. Columbia is destroyed in 1912, but construction on Rapture is completed in 1951, and Booker and Elizabeth arrive there in 1960. This situation is not unlike the alternate realities of The Lotus Twins, in which Booker does not abandon his daughter, or Columbia survives the destruction and attacks New York in 1983-1984. The latter are variations of what happened in BioShock Infinite. We can look at these events in the eyes of "events that could happen" or "what if such and such happened". But what does Rapture do in the middle?

My answer to this question depends on a term in literary criticism: a term called "Metafiction". "Meta" is of Greek origin and means "after" or "beyond". In contemporary usage, it deals with the concept of "aboutness". Metalanguage is about language; A meta-theory is a theory about theories and... the world of Bioshock Infinite can be considered a meta-world, that is, a world about worlds. The term "Meta-fiction" or self-referential literature refers to modern and contemporary works of art that are aware of their nature and draw attention to the fact that they are artificial and artificial. Novels often do this by telling a story about the author who is telling the story or the reader who is reading the story. In the field of cinema, a meta film is a film about people who are making films (and usually the immediate reaction to these works is: "Wow, what a meta film!")

(Footnote: sometimes the characters of some stories compared to They are fictional characters, they have knowledge. Watch the movie Stranger Than Fiction or play the Stanley Parable game to get to know such characters better. In Stanley Parable, the narrator of the game is like a narrator who tells a story. He is aware and uses every opportunity to announce this awareness.)

But what do these words have to do with BioShock Infinite? This may sound ridiculous, but I think that's the only way to explain Rapture's presence in the game. In forums and comment sections of websites, people have tried to find a clear connection between the two cities and somehow prove that they belong to a common universe. Is Rapture the Columbian that sunk under the sea? Is Comstock Andrew Ryan in another parallel universe? These connections do not seem logical. When you play BioShock Infinite, there is no reference to Rapture. In the scene that cuts to New Year's Eve 1984 (slight reference to George Orwell), the night Columbia attacks New York, no reference is made to the Rapture. The game developers know better than anyone that the previous two games in the series were set in a very cool underwater city called Rapture. If they were going to make a clear connection between the two storylines this way, they would.

Consider Grant Tavinor's quote about BioShock 1:

Undoubtedly, the metaphor of being immersed in a fantasy world is not accidental. BioShock is self-aware, drawing attention to its nature as a video game and a fantasy world where players enter the role of the actor.

This statement is crucial to understanding why Booker and Elizabeth enter Rapture. Is. The Rapture entry scene is a prelude to the Infinite Lighthouse introduction scene. This scene is about storytelling, and you can see how the "meta" element is playing out: the creators of BioShock Infinite pondering the potential of video games for storytelling. In some ways, BioShock Infinite is one A video game is about video games, specifically about the stories and worlds of video games. When Elizabeth says, "There's always a lighthouse; There is always a man; There's always a city," he doesn't just mean Booker's 123 attempts to defeat Comstock and save himself. BioShock's theme has always been to create fantastic worlds that the player can immerse themselves in, explore and follow interesting storylines. These are all fixed elements, just as lighthouses, main characters and cities are fixed elements. They are always there. The variable is whether you go to the top of the heavens or the depths of the sea.

A lighthouse, a man and a city. It's as if the creators of the game are actually saying: We have created a fictional world (a city) in which you, the player (man), can enter through a portal (lighthouse). My hypothesis is that this bioshock is called "infinite" because in the strange environment that Booker and Elizabeth pass through at the end of the game, infinite lighthouses appear. The infinity of the lighthouse means the infinity of stories; stories that take place in Rapture, Columbia, other video games, and other worlds, stories that each of us experience in a rather different way. BioShock Infinite even has a metafictional title. This title is about the possibility of infinite stories.

BingMag.com Infinite Bioshock and aesthetic aspects of storytelling in games

True is that BioShock Infinite tries to explain the hypothesis of the multiverse of the universe with the terms of quantum physics, but another interpretation that can be made of the multiverse of the game world is that BioShock Infinite is a meta or self-referential game and these parallel worlds (which appear in the form of lanterns) are a metaphor for people's different experiences of the same game; It's as if everyone who has played BioShock Infinite is walking in one of these lighthouses, and their experience, despite having a series of the same elements (such as playing as Booker), a series of variable elements (such as a gun which they used for a conflict).

"Constants and variables". Booker repeats Elizabeth's words and tries to understand them. These words describe Booker's 122 previous trips to Colombia that have been forgotten, but they are also about the constants and variables of parallel universes. Sometimes it seems that Booker's participation in the Wounded Knee Massacre is a fixed element and whether or not he agrees to be baptized and becomes Comstock or not is a variable element. The ending offers another possibility: one of Booker's transformations survives and is destined to become Comstock. Many possible Elizabeths appear at the baptism site and kill her by drowning her; In this way, they completely eliminate the possibility of Booker becoming Comstock. These are the constants and variables of the parallel universes of Bioshock Infinite. Sometimes Booker is a private detective in Rapture, and sometimes his name is Jack, and Comstock is Andrew Ryan. These are the constants and variables of the self-referential or meta world of Bioshock.

Lighthouses, men, and cities. These are archetypes. The word archetype comes from the Greek word "arkhe" which means "primitive" or "pattern". This word is placed next to "Tupos" which means pattern or model. An archetype is basically a basic model on which other patterns are built. Bioshock turns lighthouses into archetypes with symbolic meaning. There are two lighthouses: one to enter Rapture and one to enter Columbia. What they share with each other is a symbolic feature: that they both provide access to these imaginary worlds. In BioShock the lighthouse means that. The lighthouse is an excuse to enter another world, like opening a book or turning off the lights of the cinema. As Elizabeth says: "They are the gateway."

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), a Swiss psychoanalyst, was among those who valued the concept of "archetype". Jung believed that the human psyche consists of archetypes gathered in the "Collective Unconscious". What he means is that these archetypes have existed in your mind since birth, as well as in mine, without us being aware of them. These archetypes can explain common structural features of ancient myths and religions. For example, there is a recurring symbol of "mother" in many cultures. The narrative line of Bioshock, like many other stories, uses archetypes. Using these archetypes, it can be argued that BioShock Unlimited is a work of art, just like novels and movies. The game is a work of art because it uses similar techniques, resources and methods to tell its stories. Not only does BioShock Infinite use various archetypal images, but it takes a deep approach to using them. Like modern metafictional works, this game meditates on the concept of storytelling. Bioshock parallel worlds not only around The plot twists of Lotus's "twins" are also about the storytelling style of the Bioshock series games.

The archetypes also found their way into the highly popular ideas of Joseph Campbell (1904-1987). Campbell believed that stories all over the world follow the same archetypal structure: the Monomyth or Hero's Journey. This theory is as follows: in different cultures, we have a main character who departs from the everyday world to overcome the challenges before him and then returns home victorious. From ancient Greek myths to novels like Lord of the Rings to movies like Star Wars and games like Mass Effect, we see the structure of the hero's journey. If you think about it, BioShock Infinite also has this structure. In the beginning, all we know is that Booker, the (anti)protagonist, was a gambler in his own past. He (mistakenly) thinks he has to save a girl from a city to clear his debt. When Booker is on the boat approaching the lighthouse, the "Departure" phase begins. Booker enters the lighthouse and begins an extraordinary adventure involving superhuman powers, tyrannical preachers and motor soldiers. This is the initiation stage. At the end of the story, Booker returns to a reality that is very different from the one he knew. So the structure of the hero's journey is there, but it has been changed due to the existence of parallel worlds.

BingMag.com Infinite Bioshock and aesthetic aspects of storytelling in games

Joseph Campbell, a theorist of myth and literature, had a profound impact on literature by proposing the theory of the "hero's journey". This theory states that many stories from different cultures follow the same pattern: a pattern in which the hero leaves his place of residence and engages in a long adventure, during which he experiences many internal changes, and finally, after reaching In victory, he returns home, but it is no longer the home he used to know, nor is he the raw young man who left home for the adventure. BioShock Infinite is an interesting reimagining of the idea of the "hero's journey" - or rather, the "anti-hero's journey" - thanks to its unique story surprise revealed at the end of the game.

The illusion of choice>

Noel Carroll, one of the leading American philosophers in the field of art, argues that art should not be defined based on inherent characteristics or conditions. Instead, if we can tell a coherent story about how a particular work emerged from other traditions, then we can say with relative certainty: "Yes, this work is a work of art." Videogames are a relatively young medium, especially compared to media such as theater which is thousands of years old, novels which are hundreds of years old, and cinema which are more than a century old. Therefore, this media must first walk so that it can fly later. But in my opinion, it has a very good chance to fly. The scene depicting the Rapture and then an infinite number of lighthouses proves that video games can tell great stories, and by telling great stories, they continue the path of other art mediums. Of course, I don't want to say that in my opinion the artistic value of Bioshock is as infinite as the great novels of the past centuries. My point is that this comparison is not as farfetched as some people think.

Some players have criticized BioShock Infinite for its lack of interactivity. In this game there is no choice between being "good" and being "evil" which leads to different endings. The original BioShock had three different endings depending on the choices you made about the Little Sisters during the game. In BioShock Infinite, there is no such interactive property between player actions and game ending. In the opinion of some people, because of this issue, BioShock Infinite is more like a movie than a game. If we're going to claim that BioShock Infinite is an independent work of art, then it should be a work of art that is independent of the films, even if it shares some characteristics with them. It should use the unique possibilities provided by the interactive videogame medium.

The main problem is that it is very difficult to tell a good story when the audience can influence the story. This is why video games sometimes take control of the game away from the player, for example in the form of cutscenes. At the end of the game, when Booker is being killed by various Elizabeth equivalents, if you had the freedom to still interact with the game, you might go and kill a couple of Elizabeths. It might have looked funny, but it would have greatly reduced the emotional and intellectual impact of the game's ending and hurt its overall cohesion. In order for a game to tell a story, some things must happen out of its control. This statement is true even for sandbox games like GTA series and Skyrim game. Although you have more freedom of action in these games, the storyline of the missions The main one is out of your control and predetermined events happen in their bed. BioShock Infinite ponders this issue on a deep level. The game has integrated all the theorems related to quantum physics and Schrdinger's cat and the multiverse hypothesis of the world with its story. Endless possibilities are crammed into a linear game.

However, you can choose between the cage and the bird. In the end, it doesn't matter what your choice is. You are like Booker who is ignorant of all his previous adventures in Colombia. You have the illusion of choice, but the end result will be the same. BioShock Infinite's explanation for this is that each choice will lead to the creation of a parallel universe. If you choose the bird in one world, you will choose the cage in another. This choice doesn't affect the gameplay or the ending, and yes, it may feel like BioShock Infinite is taking the player on a constant rail where the only "meaningful" choice is whether to kill some enemy with the Murder of Crows vigor. or Shock Jockey. So it seems that BioShock Infinite is a work of art when it comes to telling its story, but not when it comes to gameplay. This is largely due to the lack of interactive elements in the game. However, BioShock Infinite still has one of the greatest stories and worlds in video games. In this sense, it has taken a big step towards the art of video games. In the future, if Ken Levine can bring his "narrative Legos" idea to life, or something similar, perhaps the result will be a game that has an artistic story, along with innovative and interactive gameplay that provides an aesthetic experience, one that is It is clearly different from the cinema. But until then, BioShock Infinite successfully demonstrates that the possibilities for artistic storytelling are endless.

Writer: Lszl Kajtr

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