Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth face

Like many other entertainment mediums, video games have reached a point where some of the older titles contain scenes and ideas that did not age well. Sometimes, it’s something that is straight up in bad taste, and sometimes it’s something that was well-intended but misfires in one way or another. "Bioshock" as a series deals with political and economic systems, showing the disaster that could happen if these ideas are taken to their extreme. The first two "Bioshock" games focus on the most extreme version of libertarianism, while "Bioshock Infinite" is an extreme version of a theocracy. While the fourth "Bioshock" game is confirmed to be in development, we don’t know yet the form of society or government it will tackle.

In "Bioshock Infinite" the cloud city of Columbia is a religious society, one that was formed as a result of an alternate universe version of the US Civil War. Because of this, Columbia is a racist society, something that is demonstrated to the player very early on in the game. However, this scene aged poorly due to some unfortunate decision making.

Bioshock Infinite lets players make poor decisions

Bioshock Infinite raffle scene

Early in the game, as Booker Dewitt is exploring Columbia and learning about the cloud city, he comes upon a raffle in front of a stage and takes a number, written on a baseball. It is revealed that the winner of the raffle gets to throw the baseball at an interracial couple, who is surrounded by racist imagery. While the scene can certainly be uncomfortable, up to this point it serves its purpose well. It shows the ugly side of Columbia in a single scene and it demonstrates that some people who live there don’t necessarily agree with these ideals, in the form of the couple. What happens next is where things get problematic.

Players are presented with three options. To either throw the ball at the raffle announcer, throw it at the couple, or do nothing. Ultimately, all three options lead to the police noticing the "mark of the beast" on Booker’s hand, preventing him from throwing the ball at anyone. The game, however, never reflects or discusses the player’s choice. Instead, there is a situation where the "hero" of the story could have chosen to participate in a racist, hateful act, without any real consequences or conversation about it. There might be an argument that foreshadows a reveal at the end of "Bioshock Infinite," but it seems more likely that this resulted from a need to have a choice in the narrative-driven game.