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When Critique Meets Reality: Systemic Violence and the BioShock Games


The procedural rhetoric of the BioShock games has been both lauded as a ludological implementation of social critique and criticised as the continuation of conservative gameplay formulae. At times, this extends to full hypocrisy, with the series simultaneously narratively criticising and mechanically perpetuating capitalism and ethnocentrism. This article will expand on these examples and, as part of the field of cultural legal studies, emphasise the relevance of procedural rhetoric to contemporary Western legal systems. Ultimately, while the series demonstrates a deep hypocrisy, an emphasis on this hypocrisy as an aspect of the franchise is able to produce a new critical reading that emphasises how systemic violence can be rendered invisible through normalisation in what are often perceived as objective and mechanical systems, including many contemporary understandings of law.

Published: 2023-11-21
Pages:205 to 220
Section: Articles
How to Cite
Ogden, Matthew. 2023. “When Critique Meets Reality: Systemic Violence and the BioShock Games”. Law, Technology and Humans 5 (2):205-20.

Author Biography

University of Dundee
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Matthew Ogden (he/him) is a PhD Student in Law at the University of Dundee (UK), specialising in Cultural legal studies with a focus on video games. His thesis uses the BioShock games to discuss the relationship of aesthetics and law with the rise of digital technology.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074