NOTE: Reading on might put you in danger of reading Bioshock Infinite SPOILERS. You have been warned.
Once upon a time there was a story. It was told by a man with a very passive and detached narrative to the events that were happening before him.
The story, of which he didn’t much care about, was an age old classic about a young child who was given away to a man who could not have children. The story begins with the child whom, grown up at this time, is imprisoned in a tower, hidden away from everyone except the man who adopted her. Our main narrative joins us drunk, and disorderly scrambling about in search for this lost child in hopes of kidnapping her to settle his large gambling debt.
I’m not sure if you guys noticed yet, but I’m summarizing the beginning of Bioshock Infinite.
I was thinking for a while now that Bioshock Infinite could be so much better with a change in perspective. The experience would feel way more immersive rather than a player watching a docile character watching a scene in someone else’s movie play out on it’s own.
In video games the last thing you want your main playable protagonist to be is passive in their own story. Sure, Dewitt has a manly commanding voice. Sure, he’s got guns and power. Yeah, he’s an unfeeling soldier with a shady past, but all-in-all the reason he’s the narrator of someone else’s story is because, as everyone likes to believe, women can’t escape from their own towers…
The game’s beginning relies on the player’s investment in an ominous note, a stranger’s mutilated body, a pretty face, and a light house.
You save a strange girl in a castle because despite her having the ability to time travel she is incapable of escaping a castle. SHE CAN ESCAPE AT ANY POINT IN TIME BUT DOESN’T (I mean there’s probably a really crappy skim-over why she doesn’t…something about an emotion obligation to a metal bird…? Her “father”? Stockholm Syndrome? I dunno. I call BS though.)
Now I’m not an expert game developer nor am I the perfect story writer, but honestly if you think about Bioshock Infinite’s story cutting out Booker Dewitt, the main protagonist, and inserting the player directly into the action of the game that completely revolves around Dewitt’s “sidekick” (the girl mentioned above) whose life is being thoroughly explored through a series of flashbacks and defeating of past “demons” makes a way more interesting narrative. Also it’s just a really cool game mechanic to be able to time travel. Seriously.
Booker’s story is so briefly skimmed upon that the ending seemed like shoving a pretty ribbon on a hastily packaged gift and throwing at the recipient and running away (amazing how that simile worked out, eh?)
Elizabeth (Dewitt’s sidekick) makes an amazing main protagonist because the entire game is her LIFE. She’s trapped in a castle, she escapes, she experiences the world for the first time, she fight’s her dead mother’s demon, she kills someone for the first time to protect her morals. Elizabeth develops and changes and grows up through out the entire length of the game. You get to live this young girl’s life and experience loss, and cotton candy, and an entire world!
And what does Booker Dewitt do? He discovers he’s a dad and is actually a super devote Christian(?).
Dewitt hardly changes or grows throughout his experiences in the game. The player only learns more things about him that develops in cut scenes and flashbacks. His life was all planned out already and you’re only living the end, to his inevitable death.
I’m not saying Bioshock is a bad game/series because it’s not. It’s has a lot of really good aspects that I enjoyed and the story really was interesting, but thinking about perspective is interesting to me.
I challenge you guys to think about interesting, creative, new perspective in a beloved video game/movie/book/comic/etc. If you think of an interesting one, tell me in comments!
Later you guys.