Bioshock = High Art.

I figure I should just come out and say it instead of dicking around with doublespeak. Bioshock is art.

After beating the game, for the first time ever I feel as if the title “Game” is a sleight against it. It is an experience, one that could easily be revelatory. For me, it once and for all answered the question of whether or not video games can be art.

There have been ‘Art’ games before like Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Rez, etc. Those have all excelled in more finely focused ways such as visual beauty or symphonic immersion.

Bioshock is more the total package, perhaps to Video Games what films like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin, both being films that addressed complex issues with artistry and scope unheard of at the time. Bioshock, perhaps influenced especially by Metropolis

Everything from the disturbing imagery, to the moral choices, to the beautiful ending, remind me of all the very best in film, prose, poetry, music, and the myriad graphical arts. It is an expression of an idea, many ideas in fact. Not simple ideas, either, or ideas of little import.

Bioshock, if you treat it as an experience and not “another game to use to buff my gamerscore”, acts as a sort of mirror. It asks us to answer questions and make decisions, none of which are easy to make. It also rewards us by treating us with respect, not pandering to any audience or critic’s whim. Perhaps the most impressive facet of the experience is not graphical, or literary, or auditory, nor any level of technical prowess. Perhaps the most impressive facet is that I can say with all honesty, that my life has been enriched by this game.

That is what makes something high art.


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