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The Moral Quandry of Bioshock II - Elf M. Sternberg
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The Moral Quandry of Bioshock II
So, I'm playing Bioshock II. I've figured out how to keep it from crashing due to the keymap, by disabling the keymap. (It turns out I never actually type anything on Windows, since I only ever use it to play games.) It turned out this was essential because there are displays and commands in the game that cannot be remapped. The 'F' key, which is arguably one of the most important keys in the game, stops working in any alternative keymap.

But what bugs me about Bioshock II is the arbitrary murder of the Big Daddies.

In Bioshock, you started out a mind-controlled assassin, so your moral agency was pretty questionable; despite this, you still could choose between murdering the little girls or saving them. Eventually, you learned enough about them to justify killing their Big Daddies, their mind-controlled protector cyborgs, in order to rescue them. In Bioshock, you're killing the Big Daddy to rescue the little girl; the award of body-modifying plasmid is a consequence of the rescue. Collecting enough plamids to get to the end of the game is as essential game mechanic, but it's consequential to a moral decision you make.

Sadly, it's clear by the end of the book that the Big Daddies are as innocent as the little girls, but since they are still mind-controlled assassins whereas you are not, and the rescue of individual little girls is essential to the moral universe of the game, there is some forgiveness in attacking a Big Daddy.

In Bioshock II, you arguably do not need a little girl. If you get to the core, you'll be able to free them anyway. You need plasmid to beat the ever-tougher bad guys, of course, but if you were making a moral decision, you might choose to not "rescue" individual little girls. You might choose to not murder the Big Daddy, who is as innocent as the little girl herself. But the game mechanic requires that you murder a Big Daddy and acquire a little girl. The "game mechanic" vs. "moral of the story" dynamic is inverted in Bioshock II, and that makes it less interesting.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Comments
kistha From: kistha Date: April 2nd, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree, although it too has one truly amazing bit at the end.

Have fun!
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