Transcript for the video Bioshock Infinite Is The Worst Game Of The Year.
On October 16th, 2013, one Tevis Thompson posted the words:
BioShock Infinite is the worst game of the year.
Oh the hyperbole. Not just a bad game. The worst game. Maybe he meant the worst out of those games that get called “game of the year”? That would have been okay. But I can’t think he really meant worst compared to all the crappy clones that are foisted on mobile users every month. My God, at least it’s a game, can you really say that about Prote–
That wasn’t what galvanised the videogame Twitterati though. It was Thompson’s conclusions. He wanted to raze videogame scoring to the ground.
Where else do you see these numbers? School, that’s where. There is perhaps no clearer admission that videogames have not escaped their adolescence than grading them on a high school curve.
This was revolutionary. We had never heard of this before. Never. Before.
He knew his detractors would identify the paradox of multiple scoring realities.
But wouldn’t having 100 different personal scales wreak havoc on Metacritic? Without common standards, wouldn’t a Metascore be incoherent? Indeed, but that was always the case. Only on top of it, we’ve made our aggregate scores dishonest and gutless too. They betray our conformity, our thoughtlessness, our lack of belief. And they remain the clearest signs that the videogame review community has not arrived.
All this from just one worst game of the year. His words resembled the sermon of a bible-thumping preacher. A Zachary Hale Comstock. His inner preacher outed, he was determined to start a holy war.
One needs no better example of how reviewers can be just as blinded by indie charms than the hysterical reviews given to the vapid dead-end that is Limbo.
Some idolised Thompson for his dangerous honesty. Some people even said his essay was coherent.
A good review will honor this. It will say: This is what it was like for me. And in doing so ask: Now what was it like for you?
Others of us were like, uh wow. I’m sure you’re a nice bloke, but you sound a little bit crazy. I wrote a parody of the whirlwind of score rage that had seized Twitter. It was called Stanley Scores Reviews.
This is the story of a man called Stanley. He used to believe that all game reviews should have scores. Look, a reviewer would write, this is the best seven out of ten that I have ever played. And all the other reviewers wrote the same thing, and no one knew why they did this.
It wasn’t meant as a serious response. But the call to arms struck me as kind of silly. Good luck convincing the internet that scores are bad by calling Bioshock Infinite junk.
And one day, I played Bioshock Infinite.
I sat there alone and I understood. I understood the horror, the terrifying truth of this game. This game that was the same as all the other games but got all the things other games had got right really wrong. Perhaps Bioshock Infinite was indeed the worst of the games of the year.
Like all big games it panics that players might waste some time or get a little frustrated. Right out of the gate, you’re lead to the top of a lighthouse and have to be told:
I guess they want me to sit in their fancy chair.
Ladies and gentleman, your gaming revolution is just another theme park shooter. God forbid I run out of ammunition or health as Columbia’s trashcans are more impressive than Jesus in that bible story about feeding the five thousand.
And it’s kinetoscopes all the way down. I’d like to hear what Comstock has to say and —
— bloody Hell, Booker. Would you kindly not bash Comstock’s brains out? At times, Bioshock Infinite resembles the bastard hybrid of a first-person shooter and torture porn. Luckily, I didn’t warm to a single character. Like the excruciating know-it-all Lutece twins. Or revolutionary-hero Daisy Fitzroy who then becomes wannabe-child-killer Daisy Fitzroy. Not even that mobile coin and salts factory, Elizabeth.
Some of the themes just feel so heavy-handed, more painful sacrifices made to the Attention Deficient Focus Group Player-God. And when the developer locks me in a room and the only key is a baby, I am unmoved by dialogue like “WHAT CHOICE DO I HAVE”.
Eventually, we reach the Book of Revelation. “Constants and variables” – because all games are scripted? “Always a lighthouse” – because Irrational could only remake Bioshock?
BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH ALTERNATE REALITIES
It was like experiencing multiple realities where “multiple realities” had a different meaning in every reality. Well, aside from “this is a plot device”.
You know, the end of game revelations reminded me of another stellar ending. Moore & Eick’s Battlestar Galactica in which God literally filled in most of the plot holes.
Something peculiar began to happen to me. I became angry. I was offended by this game. I was insulted.
How could anyone write about this game with a straight face? Anything experimental in its conception had been euthanized in the final product. It fails many well-established rules of environmental storytelling. Plot defeats character. The fetch quests are humiliating. All that triple A money was used to polish it into the frictionless game, where nothing matters.
The only person I would commission to write about Bioshock Infinite would be Doug Stanhope.
He wouldn’t mention it in the same bourbon breath as Citizen Kane.
And so, belatedly, I’m very sorry Mr. Tevis Thompson. I’m sorry I made fun of your rage. It’s easy to lose one’s mind after being exposed to a lethal dose of Bioshock Infinite. And then you read that plenty of people haven take it earnestly. It breaks a piece of soul and, after that, maybe you’re never quite the same.
I am truly sorry. I wish there was some way I could wipe away the debt.