WARNING: Spoilers follow.
“A man chooses. A slave obeys.”
So said Andrew Ryan, the iconic antagonist of 2007 classic Bioshock, and so changed my perspective on just what it meant to play a video game. With those six simple words, I was led to consider just how much control stemmed from the seemingly misnamed controller I held in my hands.
Sure, I may have been the one doing all the running, jumping, and shooting, but when it came down to why I was actually doing all those things in the first place, the answer was simple: because I was told to. I realized that my in-game freedom had been an illusion—an enjoyable one for sure, but a fallacy nonetheless. Once I entered into the game’s world, I effectively constrained myself to the only paths it had ever provided for me.