A Kindly Choice

Sup Splicers!

Welcome back to GGAL, a blog made from the sweat of your brow!

So previously I teased the fact that I have entered the Blogger Blitz: Black Sheep competition, but now I got a little more to share with you… If you haven’t been keeping up with the competition on the Adventure Rules blog then let me briefly explain what the heck is going on. This years competition  revolves around the villains of the gaming world and each of the eight competitors, including yours truly, will be sponsoring one scoundrel to hopefully carry them through the contest. Representing GGAL in all its glory will be Frank Fontaine of the Bioshock series, a dark and scheming character from one of my all time favourite franchises. For this round of the competition, me and ole Franky will be up against Alex Sigsworth and his champion: the crime kingpin Charles Jericho of the Driver games. Our particular trial by combat blogging  will be live on the 20th of August so stay tuned. If you want the full details of our particular throw down, or any of the other match ups, then check out the full match schedule here.

Parking Panic
Art by Robert Ian Shepard

Seeing as I’ve already mentioned Bioshock, I feel that would be as good a topic as any for this weeks article. Now I can’t even begin to explain how much I love the Bioshock series, which I’d comfortably place in my top 2 favourite game franchises (it’s jockeying with Spyro the Dragon for number 1). The setting is absolutely stunning; Rapture, a failed objectivist utopia founded at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is the perfect backdrop to a deeply unsettling, yet tonally and visually immaculate story.  Speaking of story, in the world of gaming (and in my opinion most other media) there really aren’t many better and for the sake of any poor souls who have yet to play the game I will refrain for telling you what happens right now (though there will be spoilers later in the post). But in a nutshell; right wing idealism + rampant technologically advancement + some casual heavy drug misuse/ chemical warfare + a dash of mismanagement multiplied by some gorgeous steampunk = an undersea adventure more fitting of Alice than Ariel.

Little Sister Boishock .jpg

Little Sister Bioshock by Armand Rajnoch
Model/MUA: Iona Veerman

Can you tell I’m a fan?

But I’m not here just to fanboy over my favourite game as if it were Sander Cohen’s Quadtych (don’t ask just play the damn game). No I’m here to discuss one of the most unique themes that the game… dives in to… sorry. This particular theme is choice; “a man chooses, a slave obeys”. Bioshock was famous for many reasons but the addition of player choice was seen as pretty different back in the dark ages of 2007. Now that’s not to say it was the only game with player agency but the Bioshock dev team definitely used it in some cool and unique ways, in particular the little sister harvesting choice. In addition to that you’ve got lots of different play styles with the plasmid system and you even have the choice of whether or not to kill a certain insane artist (basically Shia LaBeouf). But what is more interesting than the players ability to choice is the fact that this wasn’t ever true…

 

Abandon all hope of no spoilers all ye who enter through here…

Sea monster mao.jpg
You’re off the edge of the map mate! Here there be spoilers

Yeah, as any of you seasoned Big Daddy’s may know (that sounded so wrong… oh well still keeping it), the choices that you get to make in the game are greatly exaggerated. While you play through the game and get closer to finally getting your revenge against Rapture’s despotic leader you find that not all is as it seemed to be. The one friendly voice who had guided you through the punishing fish tank of horrors that is Rapture turns out to be an impostor! Atlas, the man you once believed to be your kindly guide is in fact a nefarious puppet master who has been using you to take over this laissez-faire Atlantis for himself! All the choice you believed you had was in fact an illusion… but is that a bad thing?

I know what I’m saying here is pretty controversial, am I really saying that we shouldn’t have choice!?! Now before you call me a fascist I promise that I have a good, pro-freedom reason for what I just said. You see after Atlas’s betrayal, you were given a linear path free from choice to find and then ultimately beat him. If the game had given you the choice to give in, accept defeat or any other spineless behaviour, you may not have been able to save Rapture. Heck, if it weren’t for Atlas’s treachery in the first place you’d be as screwed as a fish out of water. It was the freedom from choice that enabled your victory. We as humans are not perfect (not even me as shocking as that may be), so as great as freedom and choice are, too much of it can be detrimental to our success. As a student I know that too much free time will more likely yield a Netflix binge (or another play through of Bioshock) rather than extra revision for exams. And students aren’t the only one at risk here, anyone with a lack of clear day to day structure (such as entrepreneurs), are just as likely to struggle with issues like decision fatigue or ego depletion.

IMG_0378.JPG
Photography by Pippa Michalski

Now I want to be clear, I am definitely not telling you to move to North Korea in order to get away from too much choice. Like I said, freedom is awesome (not to mention basic human rights), it’s us that are imperfect. So maybe setting up systems to help take away some of this excess freedom could help improve our lives, a good example of this was former President Barack Obama, who would only ever wear two suits. Tactics like this ensure that menial decisions would not drain your willpower meaning that you could focus on the important things.

I think it’s time to resurface from this little dive but I assure you we have only scratched the surface and I’ll definitely be talking more about these topics in the future. But this article is getting a little long so let’s take a break for now. Any other Bioshock lovers out there? Maybe you’ve got more to add on this, do you struggle if you’ve got too much time or freedom? I’d love to know what you think so would you kindly leave a comment!

Until next time

GG Everyone.

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