Thanks for the signal boost, Stubby! This was way too much fun. What if I can't stop divulging?!?
@Comfort - I couldn't agree with you more about escort quests. Those merchants/children/animals need to put a point or two into Survival or give up and die of dysentery. :)
@Comfortable Madness - I hear you, but would argue that asking not to hear a feminist argument where you don't expect to hear one is a form of privilege you shouldn't necessarily expect to have exerised on your behalf. Irrational Games certainly didn't: earlier builds of the game had Elizabeth taking heavy damage AND combining powers with the player - in the end they decided to make her (mostly) passive but (essentially) invulnerable, and the "can take care of herself" is likely a result of those big decisions and the common complaint of princess syndrome, not escort-quest-phobia. I wouldn't hark on it, but since you call it out: I definitely think it's a positive thing to identify the inherent frictions of inequal power structures when they're relevant to a discussion: eg, gameplay and agency. I'd rather risk being unnecessarily vocal in the right direction than complicit in the wrong one. @mark & @Dough - I totally said that violence conflicts with the story. It's also toally central to the story. My issue isn't with the violence itself - I think nonreal violence is neato - my issue is with the hand-off between moments of other-genre-ness and the violence, which is well-grounded in the genre of shooter-lite. I think future games will learn from the new ground that BioShock Infinite breaks, and handle these kind of "meta key changes" in even better ways - that's all. (I can shoot RAVENS out of my freaking HAND, no complaints with that.)
Funny, I was Tweeting about this just today. The whole debate of "Is ___ art?" seems wrongheaded to me, because no person has the authority to answer the question. Who's the President of Art, and would her answer change the way we play games? (Also, it's wrongheaded for a bunch of other reasons, not the least of which is: If you have to ask, you're not ready for the answer. Check out the similar fuss in the long-long-ago, when Impressionist painters suffered the same inane examination.) The game industry en masse likes to ask this question because it's an industry forever insecure about its place in the world. Journos like to ask the question because it generates an invigorating discussion. Lots of non-gamers like to ask the question because, rilly, they hope the answer is 'No.' But gamers and game developers know the answer. ...Duke Nukem Forever notwithstanding.