The Big Balls of BioShock Saviours

A recent Cracked article caught flak for pointing out sexism in BioShock Infinite, where the inhumanly powerful Elizabeth has the ability to pick any lock, retrieve weapons from thin air, tear open portals in space and time and rearrange reality itself, but still sits patiently in her tower prison until rescued by a man whose only power is “Ability to operate tools designed to be used by any human hand.”

“Gosh, if only my frail feminine fingers could operate such beastly triggers!”

“Gosh, if only my frail feminine fingers could operate such beastly triggers!”

Hordes of commenters descended to scream about the Siphon, the ability-draining machine preventing her from fully using her powers. My god, they’re right! I bet Irrational Games were cursing that Siphon as they explored Columbia, gathering notes for the documentary that was BioShock Infinite.

“Damn!” they thought. “We almost had a powerful woman who didn’t exist only as self-propelling carrot for the dominant male to chase, but those dastardly villains developed technologies to cripple her! If only we could somehow imagine a fictional version of these indisputable historical records which didn’t relegate anything with ovaries to ‘objective and reward’. But no! Our ethics! As video game developers we have a duty to report the truth. If we altered these archaeological discoveries in any way, why, people would think this floating city of impossible technology was something we’d just made up!”

That’s why Grand Theft Auto’s budget is so big: it’s expensive to bribe your way into the Hidden City of Los Santos. And the Moon landings are nothing compared to the thousands of space invader armies NASA has conspired to hide from us, word smuggled out only by the Weekly World News and embedded video game historians.

I’m an published expert in video game breasts. I’ve also had fun with fictional females in The 5 Most Sexist Superhero Costumes, and the resulting 8 Dumbest Defenses Against Accusations Of Sexism.

8 thoughts on “The Big Balls of BioShock Saviours

  1. I want to frame this post and keep it above my bed.

  2. Er, serious question that I didn’t want to ask on Cracked:

    Could you explain in more detail your argument regards Ellie and Joel? While I do see how Elizabeth is a fairly decent example of at least accidental sexism (considering the mind bending powers, it seems like the developers at least TRIED to not be sexist), I’m not clear on where the sexism is with Ellie. The situation you cited, specifically, was the part where Ellie is fighting the Creepy Cannibal Bastard and then gets “rescued” by Joel.

    From my point of view, anybody in that situation would be distraught, regardless of gender, given the age of the individual in question and the fact that a creepy old guy would be trying to rape you before killing you. In comparison, Clickers and Such are sufficiently ingrained into the culture of the world that you know, intellectually, that they exist and can deal with that easily. While I can’t attest personally to the implications of violent crime being common place on a person’s psyche, it does seem justified for Ellie to be used to taking down mooks given her response at the beginning (when they get caught by the Curfew Police).

    I guess this is the part where I get yelled at by the internet for clearly being an ignorant slob of a dumbass, but I am seriously trying to understand rather than stewing in ignorance. Thanks.

    • Hi rofl,

      I didn’t write the original article so I can’t expand upon the author’s intentions.

      I can say that my first urge on reading the article was to disagree with some of the examples, but my second was to realize that that was the entire point of the article: looking at things that I might not have thought of, rather than the obvious egregious examples. In this case, my own expansion on Ellie would be “Hmm, I don’t recall seeing any guys breaking down in tears after equivalent or worse traumas in video games.”

      Most importantly, thanks for the civility and the discussion.

      • Hey, thanks for the response! As to your explanation, I think I understand what you’re saying. Do you think, then, that the story would work just as well if Ellie was male (say, “Eric”)? I know that it’s a common question, but I guess a big problem I have with some gender/race related criticisms is that there’s very little consideration as to how the structure of the story would change if you altered gender/race of a particular character. That’s not necessarily always true, but it’s important to think about it, I think.

        But again, thanks for the response!

    • I thought about that article for a little while, and a lot of them did seem like understandable things for people to do in their situations; outside of the context of every video game ever, not a big deal. I’m still quite fond of these games and even some of the characters. But then I figured the message was that girls and women do get the worst of storytelling tropes in games. It’s a fair point well made.

      • Yes, being able to simultaneously enjoy a game and understand its flaws is important. An astonishing number of online commenters interpret anything less than 10/10 as an attack. An attack on fiction, written by someone else, for the profit of other people, WHICH THEY MUST DEFEND TO THE HATRED!

  3. I’d like to say something more insightful here than “Yup, you basically say exactly what I’m always thinking in these situations“, but there you have it. Whenever people try to defend the appearance of racism, sexism or other kinds of awfulness in games by appealing to the social rules and circumstances of the fictional settings they are in, I can’t help but wonder if they also bolt their Christmas trees to the floor to safeguard it from the Grinch.

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