on Jun 18, 2013
As part of my ongoing effort to repeat mistakes of the past, here is the Spoiler Warning where we we talked about both Objectivism and religion.
About four years ago we had a thread where an Objectivist weighed in on Objectivism in BioShock. It made for an interesting thread and was surprisingly civil, given the subject matter. At some point (and I can’t find it now) I said that it’s not at all clear what property anyone owns in Rapture. If Ryan owns everything, then he didn’t build an Objectivist society, he built an Objectivist house and invited a bunch of assholes to live with him.
I mean: Ryan is a totalitarian thug. If they really wanted to explore with the ideas of Objectivism then they ought to have messed around with the classic conflict between individual liberty and the common good. It’s like if I wanted to make a game about (say) environmentalists, so I fill the gameworld with standard mooks who talk about trees a lot. And then their leader loves pollution because ENVIRONMENTULISM!
The further I get from this game, the more childish and sophomoric its handling of Objectivism seems. There doesn’t seem to be anything of the philosophy in the characters, in their discussions, or in how they relate to one another. The game comes off like a college senior who just got done reading Atlas Shrugged and is looking for a way to work bits of it into conversation.
ON THE OTHER HAND…
I have to give the game credit for at least having the ideas on the canvas. I suppose I’d rather a game fumble philosophical themes than have another macho melodrama. And getting the gameplay and the themes lined up is something few games attempt and fewer still pull off. BioShock fell down, but at least it fell down trying.