The Dystopia of Bioshock Infinite

Written by on January 7, 2013 in [, , , ]

Many games nowadays like to paint pictures of civilizations gone terribly awry. The Walking Dead illustrates life during a zombie apocalypse, Fallout tells of the struggles of post-war America, and the upcoming Bioshock Infinite promises to introduce us to a new civil war brought about by philosophical differences. If you’ve played a Bioshock game already, then you’re familiar with the chaos that ensued from Rapture, an underwater sanctuary that was designed to be a utopia where art, science, and industry could thrive without corruption. While Bioshock Infinite takes us above the depths of the ocean, we can already assume that this alleged utopia in the heavens is bound to come crashing down at some point.


The year is 1912 and you play as Booker DeWitt, a man tasked with traveling to Columbia to rescue a woman named Elizabeth, a pawn in a bigger game of political chess. Columbia is a hub of ultra-nationalism, focusing primarily on American exceptionalism and xenophobia. Strewn around Columbia are flags, propaganda posters, and overbearing patriotic music. Designed as a place to escape unwanted control from the government, Columbia is a ticking time bomb. Amongst Columbia is two factions, the Vox Populi and the Founders. This isn’t like the Republicans and Democrats of today. No, instead we are dealing with two sides of war, who will stop at nothing to prove their point. This is going to be one hell of a bumpy ride. Comparing Bioshock Infinite‘s problems to some of the issues we face today, such as the Occupy Movement and people questioning the Constitution should make us happy that we don’t live in an overly factional world. The Tea Party doesn’t seem quite so bad now.

Another big ideal playing into the dystopia theme of Bioshock Infinite is unlocked human potential. People can use vigors and nostrums to change their DNA makeup, allowing them to use pyrokinetic powers, manipulate their environment, control animals, and much more. We have a hard enough time regulating gun laws. Could you imagine regulating superpowers? The early 1900 technological age is a great setting and adds a satisfying semi-historical layer to the overall experience.While walking the streets of Columbia you will come across animatronic deathtraps, oddly molded after past presidents, gun-crazed citizens, and psychotic creatures. What’s delightfully sinister about these characters is that most of them are neutral towards you, but you can never tell what will set them off. When was the last time you didn’t feel safe walking down a public street? Somewhere along the line, this society spiraled downhill and DeWitt is just the man to uncover the mystery.


Dystopia is a theme that many video games have attempted to use, but fallen short. Bioshock, on the other hand, has done dystopia disastrously perfect every single time thus far and as more previews for Bioshock Infinite land amongst us land dwellers, it is shaping up to be another catastrophic success. It may be based in the past, but it can be scary how some of these events hit close to home and look almost plausible. Do you have what it takes to embrace dystopia?

Bioshock Infinite will be descending to shelves on March 26, 2013 for PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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