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A man chooses, a slave obeys: agency, interactivity and freedom in video gaming

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This article explores the concept of interactivity through a close reading of the 2007 video game Bioshock (2K Boston & 2K Australia 2007). By analyzing the interconnections between the game's storyline and ludic mechanisms I argue that Bioshock's narrative twist can be read as a powerful deconstruction of the notion of player agency (cf. Ruch, this issue). I therefore offer an analysis of this game as a problematization of traditional understandings of choice. By highlighting the role of pedagogy in Bioshock I reveal the importance of processes of training in the medium of video gaming. I conclude by drawing upon a post-structuralist framework to suggest that the subjectivity of the video game player is constructed through the play experience.
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Keywords: Bioshock; agency; interactivity; narrative; pedagogy; post-structuralism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of New South Wales.

Publication date: 01 May 2010

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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