Bioshock Infinite (Chain of Causation)

Although it’s not entirely new, Bioshock’s presentation of players with moral decisions that they don’t immediately see the consequences of is a very important and interesting inclusion in the game, especially the way it was done at the time the game was made. An article by Ryan Lizardi in Game Studies discusses the nature of the decision to either harvest or save the Little Sisters and how the player is not immediately notified about the correctness of their decision. Lizardi explains how the sort of historical time capsule created by Rapture allows this decision making mechanic to make statements about the way that the progression of history is influenced by the morality of one’s decisions and the understanding of the “infinite chain of causation”. Games since Bioshock have done this effectively (having played Undertale recently it comes to mind as an example) but to my knowledge it was one of the only games with such a clever morality-based decision-making mechanic at the time of its release. The ability for players to go back and “redo” or “correct” their actions by replaying the game differently and making morally correct decisions allows players to understand the ways that their actions had consequences on both sides of the spectrum (if they chose “wrong” vs if they chose “right”), something you are never able to do in real life which can provide a valuable understanding of this “infinite chain of causation” and bring players closer to understanding the distant consequences that their immediate actions may have. The way that games like Bioshock allow players to revisit morally complex situations and see how their actions create consequences that may not be immediately visible to them is very powerful and could be used very interestingly in the future. I could see decision-making based children’s games being created along these lines to teach children moral lessons and help them understand the infinite chain of causation discussed by Lizardi.


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