In The End, Our Choices Make Us

The ruined metropolitan city of Rapture in the game Bioshock (2007) is a microcosmic incarnation of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. The first cut scene of the game introduces to the player the idea that Rapture was intended to be a haven for intellectual advancement free from moral constructs, but the player arrives after the city has fallen into disrepair. While navigating the ruined city, the player is presented with an array of monstrous former citizens, including splicers, deranged scientists, and Little Sisters. The Little Sisters present the player with the options of saving them for small gain or killing them for great gain. This moral quandary singlehandedly determines the narrative outcome of the game and has an impact on the ease with which the player moves through the game. When following the path where the player chooses to sacrifice morals for increased survival and ease of play, a causal relationship can be seen between the ideological structure of Rapture and the evolution of the main character. This relationship posits monstrosity as the logical conclusion of the unrestrained individualism and obsession with progress that the game derives from Rand’s Objectivism.

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Classical Music and Killer Psyches in Horror Settings

    Implementing otherwise calming orchestral music in a horror setting is an ingenious technique used to instill uneasiness. While playing with the viewer’s expectations, using classical music in this way simultaneously provides a depth to characters that would normally be written off as simply psychopaths. Characters such as Alex DeLarge from Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, Patrick Bateman from Mary Herron’s 2000 film American Psycho, and Sander Cohen from 2k Games’ 2007 video game Bioshock are perfect examples of where this technique has achieved an affecting sense of uneasiness not otherwise associated with classical music.Thomas Fahy, in his article “Killer Culture: Classical Music and the Art of Killing in Silence of the Lambs and Se7en”, suggests that when classical music is used in horror settings it is “like an appreciation for literature and fine cuisine”, which all three of these characters have, which fits the persona of what Fahy calls the “Gentleman Killer”, one who “Having appropriated the pose of aristocratic or elite culture…feel empowered to judge and destroy those who fail to be ‘civilized’” (Fahy, 2003). The use of orchestral music is a way to provide an unspoken insight into these aforementioned characters’ psyche; their crimes are intricate, which lends to the idea that these characters are indeed intelligent. The idea that a killer is smarter than his victims is quite unsettling indeed. They could prey upon anyone and they are out there among us; they like the same things, attend the same concerts, and even have similar philosophies as the general public. Facetiously using classical music, which is usually associated with high class, in disturbing scenes is a tool used in games and movies that highlights antagonistic characters’ intelligence (and therefore their capabilities) and perspectives while exuding an anxious atmosphere not otherwise associated with the genre.

    Alex DeLarge, the main character of A Clockwork Orange, is a teen with a thirst for “ultra-violence” (as he calls it), who thinks very highly of himself. While a narcissistic character, using pieces such as Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” highlights the fact that Alex is well-read, smart and educated enough to blend in. He can hold a normal conversation, and is in fact highly gifted and imaginative with words; for example, Alex narrates while listening to the score, “…. Oh, it was gorgeousness…. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship…. I knew such lovely pictures!” (imdb.com). Obviously inventive and literate, a disturbed Alex uses his cultural knowledge to incite terror on others. In the scene where one of his “droogs”, Georgie, decides to mutiny, Alex exacts his revenge when he is inspired by music coming from a stereo, “It was lovely music that came to my aid” (imdb.com); it is prudent to point out that the “Overture” to “La Gazza Ladra” by Gioacchino Rossini is playing over this following scene, possibly meant as the song that inspires him. One can guess that the scene unfolds as a fight instigated by Alex assaulting Georgie. Interestingly, within the mechanics of the film, in Alex’s infamous punishment scenes, the “Ninth Symphony” is turned against him; he is forced to watch violent scenes while the music is played over them. Classical music is unusually used here as a torture device as he can not listen to Beethoven (his favorite composer) after his release. The uncharacteristic use of classical music in such ways influences the viewer to think that something terrible can happen in their own lives and it could come from a person one doesn’t expect, a gentleman who has inserted himself into an “elite culture” who could have a civilized conversation about elevated topics, but is really judging his companion. Regrets to those who do not, for they become prey.

    The use of classical music in American Psycho, is used to accentuate main character Patrick Bateman and his ideals. However, it should be briefly noted that modern music (like Huey Lewis and the News) is used during Bateman’s murder scenes, employing the same technique only with a different genre of music. Classical music is used in this film during the opening credits scene and Bateman’s personal introduction to the viewer. The opening scene has the capability of immediately instilling the level of uneasiness that the viewer feels for the entirety of the movie. Playing with the viewer’s expectations from the start, with an upbeat and playful score, there are drops and streams of red that the viewer can only assume (upon first viewing) is blood. However, it quickly becomes clear that it is an elegant dish being prepared (the red being some kind of sauce used as a garnish), not a build up to a crime scene. Yet, the viewer does not feel at ease upon this realization. This ambiguous title sequence combines beauty with crime, which is certainly how Bateman sees it: There is an art to murder; everything must be organized, pristine, and perfect (much like a classical music score). Though it should be said that this way of thinking is Bateman’s whole life, not just where murder is concerned; he has a very rigorous and detailed daily regime so he physically looks his best in order to avoid detection that he is different from his social circle. One of the tropes normally associated with a psychopath (in films anyway) is a need to feel normal, to “fit in” as Patrick puts it at one point.

    In the daily routine scene, classical piano music is played over his voiceover while the viewer witnesses this glimpse into Patrick Bateman’s life. Image and perfection are very important to him; it is imperative that he looks the best and has the best. The use of classical music here highlights the simultaneous paradox occurring: During an otherwise (somewhat) normal routine in a normal setting, the carefully planned regime is straight from the mind of a sociopath (who is usually very precise). Everything has its place in his life, even murder, and the balance must not be disturbed. In the final shot of this scene, Patrick says “There is no real me, only an entity”. This lends insight into his character, as he does not see himself as a person (another trope of the psychopath); yet, he is smart enough to not to draw attention to himself and uses his physical appearance as a way to fit in with everyone else. An unsettling reminder that he is a killer among us, indeed. However, his prey are the dregs of society; people, he thinks, that are expendable, and in fact should be destroyed. Bateman’s victims are mainly bums and prostitutes, two demographics he feels don’t have a place in society; in fact he feels the need to purge society of them. Combined with the fact that Patrick is dressed to the nines when committing these crimes and has a dialogue with his victims about the importance of being an elevated member of society, Fahy’s claim that a “Gentleman Killer” feels empowered to “judge” seems to hold true within Bateman and his ideals.

    Sander Cohen in Bioshock, is one of Rapture’s demented artist types who thinks himself as having an elevated status because of his passion concerning music and art. Similar to Bateman, he sees himself as high class, above everyone else. He forces the main character, Jack, to help him complete his masterpiece by killing other people and placing photos of their corpses into a collage (careful to not get his creative hands dirty). To Sander, people are expendable when it comes to making art; in Cohen’s audio diary “The Doubters”, he says “I suppose the Doubters think you can paint a picture without soiling your smock”(bioshock.wikia.com). Indeed, there are instances in the modern art world that depict scenes of suffering; there is a beauty in death, but not when one is responsible for the killing(s). In Bioshock, as stated, Cohen forces Jack’s hand in completing his masterpiece collage so he doesn’t actually commit the murders. It seems, through the audio diary of one Anna Culpepper (a citizen of Rapture), that Cohen has often made art out of murder without doing the actual killing. She claims in a diary (titled “Ryan’s Stableboy”) that can be found in Fort Frolic that “Cohen tidies with a catchy melody and a clever turn of phrase” (bioshock.wikia.com) after Andrew Ryan (Rapture’s creator) has doled out deadly punishment. Even before the downfall of Rapture, he was creating art in the monstrous; however, he was creating it in such a smart way that he could always deny he was part of the event, only documenting the aftermath; “The burden of the artist is to capture”, Cohen claims. After Rapture falls, however, Cohen becomes more openly demented. As a way to get revenge on the ones who “doubted” and “betrayed” him, he doles out punishments of his own, becoming a dictator like Ryan, for the sake of his art.

    Before Cohen allows Jack to enter Fort Frolic, he sends splicers (psychopathic goons) after Jack to test his worthiness of meeting the great Sander Cohen. It should be noted that Cohen often refers to himself in the third person, as if he is the finale of an act, as a way to distinguish himself from anyone else; his artistic knowledge and creativity, he believes, allows him to be put on a pedestal. Upon beating the splicers and entering Fort Frolic, Jack is met with Kyle Fitzpatrick, a former disciple of Cohen’s, who is vigorously playing Cohen’s Scherzo. Upon closer examination, we can see that this is not out of leisure; Fitzpatrick is plastered to the piano, which is rigged with explosives. Upon this realization, the player is immediately uneasy; it’s quite apparent that something awful is about to happen. Classical music is again being uncharacteristically used as a torture device, like in A Clockwork Orange; it is the last thing Fitzpatrick will ever hear, and it is the tune of his enemy. Sadistic Sander knows Kyle will stop playing in defiance, which causes the piano (and Fitzpatrick) to explode. His death is always part of Cohen’s intricate plan, no doubt meant to highlight his intelligence. A further atypical use of classical music comes when Cohen irrationally believes that Jack is judging him upon placing the third picture in the collage. In a rage, Sander sends more splicers after Jack who battles the hoard while Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker plays. Usually a song reserved for the beauty and magic of the Nutcracker’s kingdom, the score is used here as Jack fights for his life with Cohen baiting him over the radio to “Smile! Smile!” as if Jack’s fighting were a performance. Cohen fits the bill almost perfectly for being a “Gentleman Killer”, though Fahy also says “By relying on ‘art’…. these crimes transform high culture into a tool for expressing violence” (Fahy, 2003). Similarly to Patrick Bateman, there is a parallel beauty to art and killing for Cohen.

    Albeit all mentally disturbed, there is an intelligence associated with these killers which is highlighted using an otherwise pacifying genre of music. When little attention is given to these characters, it is easy to write them off as simply the antagonist. This is a shame as a killer’s psyche is not so one-dimensional. Using classical music subtly and facetiously brings attention not otherwise paid to antagonists as a way to add depth to their characters. Upon a close reading of these texts, the subtle references to these characters’ complicated personalities is highlighted using orchestral music. A genre that is usually reserved for the high class, it is partly used to point out the fact that these “high class” characters could be the very people one walks by on the street everyday; all three of them look normal (for Cohen, based off his audio diary picture) and arguably act normal in public because they strive and know how to fit in. They have elevated likes (aka: an appreciation for music and art) and dislikes like everyone else, yet their mentality is extremely different from a normal citizen.

    In the cases mentioned, these characters are educated and have a public demeanor that alludes to an elevated status in society, all fitting Fahy’s description of a “Gentleman Killer”, which makes them hard to spot in a crowd of the same people. This is certainly an unsettling fact that breaks the fourth wall; it exhibits these killers’ intelligence at being able to blend in, which instills a sense of uneasiness for the viewer, not only within the film’s universe, but in the real world. A further aim of implementing classical music (in settings it normally wouldn’t be in) is to play with the viewer’s expectations, like with the American Psycho opening, and adds to the general uneasiness one is meant to feel when dealing with these characters, like when “Waltz of the Flowers”, a song usually associated with beauty, is played while Jack (aka: the player) fights for his life in Bioshock. Uncharacteristically using this otherwise soothing music genre in a horrific setting is an affecting, yet subtle, way to bring an awareness to these complex characters’ psyches.

Works Cited

  1. Fahy, Thomas. “Killer Culture: Classical Music and the Art of Killing in Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.” The Journal of Popular Culture, 27 June 2003. Web.

  2. Bioshock Wiki. bioshock.wikia.com. 2015, web.

  3. IMDB. imdb.com. 2015, web.

No Gods, No Men, No Future: Bioshock’s Unregulated Nightmare

 

In “The Battle for Galt’s Gulch: Bioshock as Critique of Objectivism,” Joseph Packer argues that Rapture, the Objectivist underwater dystopian setting of Bioshock (2007), is full of  “dangerous [Objectivist] enemies, seeking to inflict harm for their own personal gain” (215). He consistently reiterates his argument that these enemies, called splicers, are acting in accordance with Objectivism’s core tenet of rational self-interest (216-21), suggesting that they are making these choices consciously and of their own volition. In painting all citizens of Rapture with such a wide brush, Packer misinterprets the motivations behind Bioshock’s enemies, and in doing so, he also misses the central catalyst for Rapture’s ruin in general. Society has collapsed in Rapture not because its citizens are selfish, but because there of the lack of government intervention to counter the moral bankruptcy of the business world of rapture.

In Brigid Tenenbaum’s audio diary “ADAM Explained,” she reveals the negative effects of ADAM, a popular substance in Rapture that allows for instant genetic modification. ADAM’s process of cellular regeneration, she states, causes “cosmetic and mental damage. You need more and more ADAM just to keep back the tide.” Because its debilitating effects can only be subdued by repeated applications, users are caught in a trap of psychological dependence after using it, leading to their violence against others who have ADAM. Therefore, Packer’s explanation of the splicers’ violence is inadequate. They attack the player not because of their ideology, but for physiological reasons beyond their control. The splicers are essentially stand-ins for drug addicts with no access to rehabilitative services.

In response, one might wonder why there are no rehabilitative centers in Rapture when there would certainly be a high demand. After all, Rapture is a free market society. The answer is that there is more money to be made from selling to the users of ADAM than rehabilitating them. As Tenenbaum also states in “ADAM Explained,” “From a medical standpoint, [the addictive nature of ADAM] is catastrophic. From a business standpoint, well… Fontaine sees the possibilities.” Frank Fontaine is the founder of Fontaine Futuristics, the business enterprise that funded Tenenbaum’s experiments leading to the discovery of ADAM. The high demand for ADAM only increases during the civil war, when “Johnny and Janey Citizen are lined up round the block for Plasmids” (Bioshock, “Fontaine’s Legacy”). In Rapture, there is no institution in place to stop someone like Fontaine from taking advantage of the masses’ dependence on ADAM.

Another prime example of the dangers of unmitigated ADAM distribution and consumption is Dr. Steinman. Steinman is a plastic surgeon in Rapture’s Medical Pavilion who becomes obsessed with elevating his trade to an artform. He pontificates about Pablo Picasso’s deconstructivist experimentalism and suggests that it has influenced him to perform unorthodox procedures on his patients (Bioshock, “Surgery’s Picasso”). Thus, his unregulated and unconventional practice usurps the desires of his patients, leading to horrifying deformations and even deaths (Bioshock, “Not What She Wanted”). Steinman, like the nameless splicer enemies, exemplifies how well-adjusted citizens can be destroyed by the unchecked, amoral free-market economy of Rapture.

The lack of official oversight in the form of safety nets in Rapture leads to class inequality. Because Fontaine has control over ADAM production, he is able to hoard the wealth of Rapture for himself, leaving the masses poor. He further takes advantage of them, as he explains in the audio diary “Sad Saps”:

These sad saps. They come to Rapture thinking they’re gonna be captains of industry, but they all forget that somebody’s gotta scrub the toilets. What an angle they gave me… I hand these mugs a cot and a bowl of soup, and they give me their lives. Who needs an army when I got Fontaine’s Home for the Poor?

He is able to use these vulnerable citizens as soldiers to insulate him against any retribution. Once again thanks to the lack of government regulation, Fontaine is able to build a private army with deadly weapons and plasmids, exploiting the lack of a state-sanctioned military in Rapture.

To understand the graveness of the oppression brought on by the free market economy in Rapture, one needs only to listen to Julie Langford’s audio diary “Arcadia and Oxygen.” In it, Langford reveals that oxygen production and distribution in Rapture is also a part of the free market. Since Rapture is located at the bottom of the ocean, breathable oxygen is not naturally occurring and has to be farmed from trees in an area called Arcadia. Andrew Ryan, Rapture’s founder, demonstrates the dangers of such an arrangement when he kills the trees with herbicide, putting all of Rapture in jeopardy due to its oxygen dependence. Because oxygen is privately owned, prices can go unregulated, and the very life of public is determined by the state of the market. This is an extreme analogy that parallels real-life anti-government sentiments that oppose universal healthcare, food stamps, and other state-funded social safety nets.

Another injustice inherent in the absence of centralized government in Rapture is the lack of a public police force. Ryan has the privilege of employing a man named Sullivan to investigate anything Ryan perceives as criminal activity (Bioshock, “Timmy H. Interrogation”). These investigations often result in the murder of Ryan’s enemies, such as smugglers working for Fontaine that harm Ryan Industries’ profits and a young singer who gained popularity by singing protest songs (Bioshock, “Picked up Timmy H.”, “Artist Woman”). Again, the privatization of a force that is meant to protect the public leads to more inequality in Rapture. Even Sullivan becomes disillusioned by the impropriety of his own job and threatens to quit in his audio diary “Have My Badge”. Without public servants to protect the rights of the lower-class citizens of Rapture, the social disparity that is already so pervasive will perpetuate.

Similarly, if there had been an ethics committee to regulate scientific experimentation, all of the multitude of problems caused by ADAM would be non-existent in Rapture. Ryan openly celebrates the lack of ethical oversight in the sciences at Rapture. In the video that accompanies the first bathysphere ride, Ryan describes Rapture as a place “where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality.” In another, particularly dark, revelation, it is revealed that Tenenbaum’s genetic experimentation that lead to the discovery of ADAM was likely a continuation of Nazi eugenics, in which Tenenbaum participated as an assistant in the concentration camps (Bioshock, “Useless Experiments”). The indifference toward using Nazi science is a clear indicator of the fatal extremes of Rapture’s laissez-faire take on science. As a result of being unhindered by government intervention, “Fontaine Futuristics is the biggest thing going in Rapture” according to Bill McDonagh, one of Rapture’s city council members (Bioshock, “Arresting Fontaine”). Thus, Fontaine Futuristics jump-starts the end of Rapture by mass-producing and distributing ADAM, completely unregulated and in defiance of ethical business practice.

Ryan’s favorite analogy for the free market is the Great Chain. He likens the path of the market to human industrial progress being pulled in the right direction (Bioshock, “The Great Chain”). This is ironic because there is no universal morality in Objectivism since every person has their own independent moral compass. As Ayn Rand writes in The Virtue of Selfishness, “the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose” (23). Thus, each puller of the proverbial chain is pulling in his or her own direction, without regard to the others, leading to stagnation. This is where Ryan’s Great Chain analogy falls flat, and his philosophy is complicit in the every aspect of the downfall of his city.

Ryan’s motto for Rapture is “No gods or kings. Only Man,” and that in itself is not problematic. But the overall sentiment is that Man doesn’t need anyone else to survive and prosper, which the downfall of Rapture has shown to be false. Government intervention is not a mere moral obligation, it’s also a rational one for a society to prosper. Public institutions help offset the greed, dysfunction, and chaos that arise from any the social interactions of any complex society. In denying the citizens of Rapture such benefits as medical regulation, social services, free access to breathable air, and a public police force, Ryan launched his city in a doomed trajectory for the masses.

Video Games & the Power of Narrative (thehumbleoscar & ironreaver)

Picucci, Marcello A. “When Video Games Tell Stories: A Model of Video Game Narrative Architectures.” Caracteres: Estudios Culturales Y Criticos de la Esfera Digital 3.2 (2014): 99-116.

In this article, Picucci analyzes the importance of narrative in video games and the various forms that narrative takes and has tkaen throughout video game history. He discusses that video games have had hints of narrative since their earliest days, usually taking forms that were fairly simple and direct. For example, he references Nintendo’s 1981 arcade classic, Donkey Kong, in which the main protagonist is seen stealing the princess, thus prompting the hero to begin a mission to rescue her. He then goes on to discuss the various forms that narratives are presented in modern video games. These are pre-established, disccovery, sandbox, and computer generated. He continues on by defining each of these forms and providing examples of them in various video games.

Cuddy, Luke, and William Irwin. “BioShock’s Meta Narrative: What BioShock Teaches the Gamer About Gaming.” BioShock and Philosophy: Irrational Game, Rational Book. Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. 3-14.

In this chapter, Cuddy explores how video game narratives, and in this case specifically, the narrative presented in BioShock, affect and enrapture players. He discusses the intense psychological reactions that games can cause in players and references both one of the main turning points in the story of BioShock and the act of harvesting little sisters as examples. He then goes on to discuss what methods the developers used to make these things so visceral, from the loss of control the player experiences to the violent nature presented. Finally, he discusses the illusion of choice that is presented to players in video games, and then compares this to how BioShock gets around this somewhat by offering multiple endings that are affected by the choices the player makes throughout the game.

Schneider, Edward F. “Death with a Story.” 10 Jan. 2006

In this article, Schneider goes into the effects narrative heavy and non narrative first person shooters have on gamers. He looks into this issue to try to bring more information to the violent games/violent people debate. In his paper Schneider finds that first person shooters that have no narrative (such as Doom and Quake) have little effect on people and they merely see the games as a simple shoot things that move endeavor. First person shooters with narrative, however, pull gamers in, make them rationalize with characters, puts the violence into context, and actually makes them feel and be aware of the violence. This in turn, Schneider states, does create a situation where a gamer may be more susceptible to violent tendencies because they’ve actually immersed themselves in such situations in their games and must rationalize/have it rationalized for them. It’s a very interesting look into the power that stories and narrative have in gaming.

Modern Game Culture Debates (venusgrace17 and lereynolds1996)

Chess, Shira, and Adrienne Shaw. “A Conspiracy of Fishes, Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying About #GamerGate and Embrace Hegemonic Masculinity.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 59.1 (2015): 208-20.

This article details one instance within the GamerGate Controversy in which an academic discussion of diversity in the gaming industry at a Digital Games Research Association conference held in August 2014 was used as evidence by supporters of  GamerGate of a conspiracy to forcibly inject feminist principles into the gaming industry. The transcript of the conference was used as a means to rally those who felt attacked by feminist social critics and justify harassment of anyone who took part in such criticism of the gaming industry. The authors of this article, who were both present at the conference and for the proliferation of this document, view the conspiracy theories associated with GamerGate as failure to understand that feminism is not widely accepted, that games research is not well-funded and incapable of forming any kind of overthrow of the gaming industry, and that criticism is simply meant to criticize and not to oppress.

Gjoni, Eron. Web log post. “TheZoePost.” WordPress, 16 Aug. 2014. Web.

This blog entails a total of five articles, all dealing with Zoe Quinn and her former boyfriend Eron Gjoni’s dating history. Gjoni’s purpose for the blog was to expose Quinn’s infidelity to him. It details a timeline of their relationship and screenshots from conversations on Facebook, Tumblr, texts, etc. Gjoni essentially exhibits evidence that Quinn had been having sexual relations with men from both the       gaming industry and gaming journalism. Recently, Gjoni has edited the latest post stating that he never intended for Quinn to be subjected to abuse that the Gamergate controversy began due to his blog’s release.

Schott, Gareth R., and Kirsty R. Horrell. “Girl Gamers and their Relationship with the Gaming Culture.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 6.4 (2000): 36-53.

The introduction to this study details some of the history of masculinity in the gaming industry, which began as marketing exclusively towards young boys and games developed only by men “based on their own tastes and cultural assumptions”, that  helped to maintain a male audience. Females were for the most part not protagonists, and when they were they were portrayed undesirably. Today, women have in some ways broken into the industry and games are becoming less gendered towards men, but problems still exist. The study itself finds that girls and women playing video games in their homes are often relegated to the role of “watcher” of male family members who believe themselves more capable and experienced.

Todd, Cherie. “COMMENTARY: GamerGate and Resistance to the Diversification of Gaming Culture.” Women’s Studies Journal 29.1 (2015): 64-67.

This article maps the development of GamerGate and also explains the atmosphere in the gaming industry that led to GamerGate. It sets up that the proportion of female gamers is increasing and that games are becoming more culturally inclusive, but that the existing audience is resistant to letting women in and respond to attempts at diversification with harassment and accusation. Women’s experiences and criticisms are often overlooked or labeled as reasons why women should stay out of the gaming industry all together. The author points out that gaming companies, which are made up of significantly less female than male employees, are conducive to these problems. She concludes that GamerGate has brought attention to what women have been long trying to point out as problematic.

Video Game Genres (griffinhanson and harleyquinntwinn)

Cuddy, Luke, and Irwin, William. Bioshock and Philosophy: Irrational Game, Rational Book. Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2015.

In this book, Cuddy explains the cognitive science and philosophy involved in making and playing Bioshock and how it affects the player. He addresses how Bioshock employs real-world tactics (like propaganda; you can see it all over the place involving Ryan) to influence you; the game’s story also involves topics like Marxism, morality, feminism, as well as political decision-making and the importance of autonomy. Cuddy explores Bioshock’s philosophy which embraces the theories of Ayn Rand (especially in terms of corporate power), Aristotle, Plato, Dewey, and Leibniz (among other influential philosophers and writers). Cuddy also brings up the concept of “meta-narrative” and how it can affect the player and their gameplay by incorporating the player’s personal beliefs and playing into their emotions, which influences how they play the game.

Wolf, Mark J.P. Video Game Explosion: A History From PONG to Playstation and Beyond.Westport: Greenwood Press, 2008.

In this book, Wolf gives a comprehensive history of video games (starting in 1985) that spans all the way from the days of Atari to today, where video games have become immensely advanced. He talks about how Nintendo revived the American video game industry after the unsuccessful Halceyon system (around Atari time) and how developers and companies (like Playstation and Xbox) have taken the reigns in recent history. Wolf goes into depth about many genres in chapter 38, where he gives a breakdown for each genre in his list. He also includes chapters dedicated solely to discussing the more popular genres that require more explanation like First Person Shooters (FPSs), Role-Playing Adventure games (RPGs), and Independent/Art games.

Lee, Donghun, and Linda J. Schoendstedt. “Comparison of ESports and Traditional Sports Consumption Motives.” ICHPER — SD Journal of Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance 6.2 (2011): 39-44. Print.

This article approaches the topic of eSports, or competitive video games, and their rise in popularity during the 21st century. The main focus is that of what factors motivate people to spend their time on either participating in or watching eSports. Opinions were also collected of both eSports fans and more typical sports fans in order to compare the aspects of the two that lead to involvement. It was determined that the main attributes of eSports that gamers find attractive are competition and drive to have skill. Some fans also find eSports to be more interactive and engaging than regular sports.