Michael Davis: A Bioshock To The System
Over ten years ago I was in business with Irrational Games and its creative guru Ken Levine. I liked Ken and I liked his company. We were trying to bring a comic book project to life. It didn’t work out but such is life. Years passed and I did my thing and Ken and Irrational Games did theirs.
Then Irrational Games launched Bioshock.
Fuck. That game was a game changer.
I sent Ken a note congratulating him on the success of the game. I never heard back from him. That’s fine; those things just don’t bother me. I don’t dwell on why people do what they do or don’t do. He could have just ignored me because he’s such a big shot now or he may never have seen the email or another 50 thousand reasons why he did not respond.
Bioshock is still one of my favorite video games and that’s true rather I heard back from Ken or not. When the second Bioshock game out I loved that game as well. It seemed to be to be a bit harder than the first one and truth be told I’m still not done with it.
In fact I’ve been stuck on the same level for… let’s see…about two years.
No. I have not been playing the game constantly for two years. I pull it out every few months to try and beat that level, fail, then put it away for another few months.
More than a year or so ago I hear about a new Bioshock. Bioshock Infinite.
Some time after that I see some of the screen shots from the game and start to hear some of the hype surrounding the game.
I’m all in. Man, I’m all the fuck in.
I can’t remember the last time I was so jazzed over anything. Oh wait, I can remember. I was dating this Asian girl and…wait, now that I think of it, Irrational Games treated me just like that Asian girl.
They both promised something great yet that greatness kept being delayed. Over and over again. Bioshock Infinite was delayed then delayed again and frankly I got a little pissed waiting for it.
Then I thought that might be a great way to reconnect with Ken. I’d send him a funny email making light of the delays. After a little thought I decided not to do that. I realized I didn’t think the delay was funny so the odds of the guy who was sure to be taking some flack over it thinking it was funny was slim to none.
So I just waited.
Then the wait was over. For only the 3rd time in my life I went to a midnight release of a video game. When I arrived back home I started to play and at first I was not happy. The game starts with some puzzles, which I just hate.
I hate puzzles in fucking video games. I’m not buying a shooter so I can figure out how to unlock a door so I can start shooting.
Fuck that, I just want to shoot mofo’s. I don’t mind a level where I face a challenge as long as that challenge is how to survive not how to figure how many turns it will take to unlock a door and the only way you can do that is by finding a piece of paper that has the correct number of turns on it but first you have to decode that fucking paper.
This is not 1993 when video games had to be clever, no it’s 2013 and I want my video games simple. George Bush simple, that means no puzzles! If George Bush had to deal with puzzles we would have had World War III…twice.
As is my policy I at least try and figure puzzles out so that’s what I did. I gave it a try and-son of a gun-I did it! What, you ask, would have been my alterative to trying to solve the puzzle? Looking up the solution on the net would have been my next move.
No, whenever I’m stuck in a video game I don’t run to the net. If that was the case I would not still be on the same level on quite a few games as I am now, Bioshock 2 being just one of them.
I’m done with the puzzles but I’m still not shooting anyone. Now. I’m starting to get really pissed. And then, as if an answer to my prayers, a gun appears in my happy little hands.
Now I’m happy!
No, I’m really happy! This game is turning out to be worth the wait and living up to all the hype.
Then I see something that makes me want to get on a plane, fly to Boston and put my foot up the ass of Ken Levine.
Irrational Games is playing the race card.
There is an element to this game that deals with racism. In case you have not played the game I won’t say anymore than that. I’m not a dick so regardless of how I felt when first seeing that backstory I won’t go into detail.
I’ll just say I saw an image that made my blood boil. Fortunately for me I realized that more than once I’ve assumed the wrong thing regarding race so with that in mind I decided to continue shooting people until more of the backstory was revealed to me.
I’m glad I did.
I no longer want to put my foot up Ken’s ass which would most likely be a mistake as Ken does not strike me as anyone’s Bitch. That said – I love this game. Irrational Games pull off something remarkable and I’m not just talking about gameplay. That is not to say that some people of color won’t have a problem with the game (they will) but I’m not them and I love this game.
Well done, Irrational Games. And Ken don’t worry about returning my call, it’s only been a bit more than a decade. Bioshock Infinite took a while and look how good that turned out.
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil
FRIDAY: Martha Thomases