Lighthouses: A (Spoiler-Free, don’t worry) Purview of BioShock Infinite
Knowing where to begin is the hardest part of any journey.
More often than not, it’s the only part in our many adventures where we have a choice. And these choices can be…infinite.
And infinity is as frightening a concept as nothingness. If there’s even a difference between the two.
Either way, without a light to shine the way, deciding where to go can be as daunting as getting there.
The question then is…what do we need?
I just finished a video game.
I had been looking forward to the game for some time. Years, actually. At least two. The wait seemed to drag on forever and ever after.
Now that I’m done with it, I realize that I had actually been waiting a lot longer.
You see, I’ve actually been waiting for this game my entire life. Since the first time I hit start and sent Mario to the right, I was awaiting this collection of zeroes and ones, of items and ideas, of hopes and dreams on a compact disc.
Why? Because this, my friends, is the greatest video game I’ve ever played.
I speak, of course, about BioShock Infinite.
Now, I’m not one to give in to hyperbole (except always about everything for all of eternity), and I’d like to think myself a pretty hard critic of artistic endeavor. Get a Master’s Degree in whichever Fine Arts of your choosing, and if you don’t come out hating every piece of art you ever see again, you don’t deserve your degree.
The best art is the art that you don’t see coming. When you study and create art for as long and as deeply as I have, this is a harder and harder commodity to come by. There is nothing new under the sun, they say, and that could’ve been just as true up in the clouds of Columbia.
And yet, here I am. Still stunned days later. Still remembering what it felt like to not play this game, but to grow with it. To walk parallel beside it and not be led like so many other games, or leap ahead like even more.
Let’s put all the reviewy stuff aside quickly, shall? The game is gorgeous. The gameplay thrilling. The controls liquid. All that programmy wammy goodness all sublime. There is expert craftsmanship at work here, folks, and it should be commended. And it has been, so I’ll move on.
It’s very hard to earn…anything in art. Nothing is given to an artist from the audience, other than their attention, and even then, that can be tenuous. Any point you wish to make or wisdom you hope to impart must have a clearly discernible path. Nothing can be from nowhere. Then it’s not art. It’s exploitation.
Everything in BioShock Infinite is earned.
Fascinating since I would argue that the point of this experience, this journey, this digital soul that we get to share…is to prove that anything is possible.
Such a tired phrase I know. Every after school special you ever saw, every Academy Award acceptance speech, every guidance counselor who spoke to every second grade, they all said the same. They all promised us endless possibilities. Maybe you believed it then. But I’ll bet you don’t now.
Until I came across this. This…I don’t even know what to call it. A game sounds so trivial, a work of art so pedestrianly used these days.
How about this? Until I came across this…lighthouse.
Now what is a lighthouse? A guide? A reminder? A savior?
Whichever, that’s what we have here. Lighthouses are a fascinating phenomenon. They stand on the edge of apparent eternity, always looking out. They can be seen from far away, distance or time, and while we may not be able to see their roots anymore, we always have the light. Always there to steer us straight. Or, bring us back home if the waters are too rough.
They are gifts. Elegant in the truest definition of the word.
I wonder if they realize just how important they are. Or if we do.
BioShock Infinite will not be forgotten for a very long time. At least, not by me. As long as my journey continues I know I’ll look back and continually be basked in its glow. Continually have to shield my eyes at its magnificent radiance. Continually have all fears for the future rested, knowing that that possibility happened, and that another could always be waiting.
We just have to take the journey.
And like all journeys, it all begins with a lighthouse.
And, if we’re lucky, it’ll end with one, too.