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The battle for Galt's Gulch: Bioshock as critique of Objectivism

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This article argues that the first-person shooter Bioshock uses the video game medium to provide a powerful critique of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. The city of Rapture, collapsing into chaos and violence, provides a dystopian vision of what the game suggests are the inevitable results of the laissez faire politics of Rand. Bioshock not only tells a compelling story about the dangers of Objectivism, but also encodes anti-Objectivist messages into the very mechanics of the game. I examine the game's visual, narrative and procedural rhetoric, and the ways that it counters the fiction that has acted as the conduit to spread Objectivist thought.

Keywords: Ayn Rand; Bioshock; Objectivism; capitalism; first-person shooters; procedural rhetoric

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Pittsburgh.

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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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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