eratosthenes314  asked:

Why are some people down on the term 'ludonarrative dissonance"? I've heard murmurs that the concept/phrasing implies gameplay and story are separate, but I thought the whole point of the word is to admonish those who fall into that trap, not to be a symptom of it.

I have no idea how old this ask is, but I get this question on occasion so I'ma try to answer it.

In short, the term “ludonarrative dissonance” was coined by Harvey Smith almost 10 years ago now to describe what he felt were issues in the way the original Bioshock attempted to comment on Objectivism. Basically, he felt that the game was clearly critical of Objectivist philosophy via the fall of Rapture and the hypocrisy of Andrew Ryan - that an all-for-one mentality inevitably lead to the collapse of this society. But the mechanics of the game were all about prioritizing self-interest and accruing power to leverage over others (guns, plasmids, even the moral choice system about whether to harvest the Little Sisters). In Smith’s view the story and the gameplay were in conflict with one another and what they were trying to achieve thematically and tonally, and he called that conflict “ludonarrative dissonance.”

And superficially this seems like a really handy term, right? Like how Fallout 4 presents you with this urgent job of saving your missing child but the game’s open-ended design encourages you to screw around in the wilderness forever instead, or how in Human Revolution Jensen is full of self-loathing about his augmentations, but as the player they’re just a conduit for making us more awesome and we love them and want more. We can just point and go: “Ludonarrative dissonance!” and everyone understands what we’re saying. And I guess to a degree that’s true, especially given how common it is for game stories and game play to be at odds. We want emotional beats (“I’m falling in love!”/“I’m mourning my dead husband!”/“I need to save my child”/etc) but our gameplay systems are very spacial, and the results often don’t gel.

So if it’s a useful term why the distaste for it? Well, the reason the phrase has fallen out of favor with a lot of critics is that we’ve seen something of a philosophical shift take place in terms of how we approach games. Historically “story” and “gameplay” were seen as discrete, separate things. It was just the way games were thought about for the most part. DOOM the game was a shooty adventure about blowing up demons, DOOM the story was a blurb in an instruction manual that let you know the setup about Mars and a door to Hell. Final Fantasy the game was one of turn based battles and inventory management, Final Fantasy the story was something that took place in cutscenes and dialog boxes. Mario the game was about jumping, Mario the story was about a lizard that kidnapped a princess and a plumber that had to save her. It was widely believed for *years* that these two elements were both part of any game and yet wholly apart from one another. Consequently we had a whole generation of players, critics, and developers who largely thought about story and play as separate constructs, even if there were games that blurred that line a bit.

But we’ve reached a point where that line is regularly blurred. The very point of playing games like Gone Home or Dear Esther or Her Story is to exhume the story. In Western-style RPGs players sculpt the story as they play with their decisions and actions. Games like Minecraft and The Sims allow players to tell their own stories by building their own locations and characters. Games like Dwarf Fortress are built around *generating* unique stories with each playthrough from the very game mechanics themselves. The point is, story and play are increasingly not thought of as separate or discrete, but inexorably entwined. Where do the systems end and the stories we tell with them begin? Gameplay has little to no meaning for the player without the narrative (even an abstract, non-representational one), and the narrative is not separate or independent from the act of play. Left 4 Dead isn’t a story about 4 survivors and a game about shooting zombies, it’s a game that generates narratives about four survivors trying to survive a zombie apocalypse by shooting their way out.

That’s not to say games can’t be internally dissonant. Human Revolution *does* fail to make us meaningfully empathize with what Jensen has lost, and Fallout 4 *does* fail to treat the Shawn plot with the gravitas one would expect a missing child to generate. But to phrase the failing as a conflict between story and gameplay feels increasingly misleading - it’s a failing with the game itself, full stop. Like, you can shoot a scene in a movie completely wrong - you can use the wrong lens, the wrong framing, the wrong focus, and the wrong camera movements to completely fail a scene. My go-to example of this remains Battlefield Earth, given that half the damn movie is shot in dutch angles for absolutely no reason and completely in defiance of all cinematography conventions. But you wouldn’t call it “cinema-narratively dissonant” because the cinematography is not a force at odds with the narrative. It’s just crappy cinematography. Similarly, mechanics and narrative are both part of the experience of playing a game, and they’re not forces at odds with one another but parts of a whole.

Now, this is a relatively new position, and one that’s largely been taken up by younger critics who are generally interested in games with more narrative meat than formal systems meat. I am sure there are game critics and academics who are quite comfortable deconstructing a game down to systems and narrative in pursuit of more rigid formalism and more specific ontologies. I’m also sure there are devs who, having seen stories written separately from game systems their whole lives, would struggle with a more holistic interpretation of how games can or should work. So like everything I say, take it with a grain of salt, do your own research, and reach your own conclusions!

And now I’m wondering if this should just be a script for a short episode. Goddamn it.

“We put our eldest Sister through a new regimen of physical and mental conditioning, and suited her up with modified Protector equipment of my design.”

Big Sister: Combines the strength of a Big Daddy with the ADAM-draining abilities of a Little Sister. They are armored, deadly, and can survive out in the ocean, but are also able to drain ADAM from corpses to power Plasmid abilities.

Along with dashing and slashing attacks, Big Sisters may wield genetic abilities like Incinerate! and Telekinesis. Big Sisters are incredibly agile and can jump up to perch on walls like a Spider Splicer, catching their target unawares.

Track: Big Sister on The Move


@countryboyforlife44 @letgo-jean @firechild66 @spacemanaustin @hernameisthegalaxy @knight-of-night @littleweasley @cjriedelwrites @e-d-g-ek-i-n-g @whippersnapper-shenanigans

Originally posted by skyphoi

Remember, use the plasmid to call me into battle father. I shall fight by your side always. You showed kindness, and I learned that kindness. Let me show others. 

Eleanor shall always be by your side, and so shall we! Thank you for joining the BFS Family! 



Sausomecon may have been a few weeks ago, but it was a lot of fun!!

I was Jack Wynand from Bioshock all three days, and a lot of people actually recognized me!! It was amazing, even if my Winter Blast Plasmid made my hand itch a little bit. ;3;

Credit to my friend @deliverygodyatty for help with my facial makeup!!

The wounds were largely inspired by amazing art from my other friend, @medicalwaste.

Temporary tattoos from Ricarrrds on Etsy.


@mooseycowjr @lowkey10 @funlovingdandyme @spacecowboyspiegel @angel-of-lightbulbs  @wyynand @kgwastedtime @rapturelimits @deathbyfuego @kelsyisme 

Originally posted by nickvalentine

Welcome to the Gatherer’s Garden! Buy Plasmids, Tonics, and more for just your ADAM! Remember to buy safely. 

Thank you for joining the BFS Family, and remember to stock up on plasmids. In Rapture and Columbia, you’re going to need them.. 


I know this is blasphemy but… there’s so much I love about BioShock 2—in some respects I think it’s a better game 😶 

*dodges vegetables and other projectiles*

I gotta admit, I’ve yet to re-experience that magical feeling of descending into Rapture for the very first time in the original BioShock, and BioShock 2 lacks that “oh shit I’m about to murder my dad with a golf club” moment, but I love seeing the other side of Rapture; I love the constant mental struggle with whether or not Sofia Lamb is really a villain, and Subject Delta’s potential for showing amazing compassion despite everything that was done to him. Also, Delta and Eleanor’s relationship really pulls at the heartstrings. And I can’t forget Delta and Sinclair’s doomed bromance 💔 (Sinclair is probably my fave character from the series, tbh) Then there are the gameplay aspects I prefer, like dual wielding plasmids and weapons, the ability to set up such elaborate traps that you don’t even have to fight if you’re clever enough (heh), and the freaking drill.

  • Desparate Times
  • Andrew Ryan
  • Bioshock

Doctor Suchong, frankly, I’m shocked by your proposal. If we were to modify the structure of our commercial Plasmid line as you propose, to have them make the user vulnerable to mental suggestion through pheromones, would we not be able to effectively control the actions of the citizens of Rapture? Free will is the cornerstone of this city. The thought of sacrificing it is abhorrent. However… we are indeed in a time of war. If Atlas and his bandits have their way, will they not turn us into slaves? And what will become of free will then? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

does anyone remember that really fucked up chapter in the bioshock book where that guy and his wife were fighting over him buying too many plasmids and he killed her by accident. that was super fucked up

thegaymerist  asked:

Gear of War was remastered and the level layout and design stayed the same, but it was a huge quality upgrade and they added aesthetic that was tied more to the sequels, books, and overall lore, such as a painting of Chairman Prescott, who wouldn't be revealed until the sequel. What I'm getting at is with the BioShock Remaster, we might get some aesthetic changes that tie BioShock with BioShock 2 and Burial at Sea such as posters of Elizabeth and playing her song, ads for Drinkable Plasmids, etc

It would be pretty sweet if they decided to do that. It doesnt even have to be much, just little nods to the other games, like they did with the picture of Adonis in Burial at sea ep2.