The Bioshock Game Experience

Posted: February 8, 2013 by neumann2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I decided to play Bioshock for my game journal because back when it was released in 2007 I never got a chance to sit down and play through the whole story, so I figured this would be a good time to do it.  Bioshock is a game that rewards the player who really immerses oneself in the story and underwater artistic utopia of Rapture.  It is a beautifully designed first person shooter that not only submerges the player into an eerie underwater metropolis, but also sends you back time to early stages of the cold war.  The reason it was so well received is can be related to Brian Sutton-Smith’s philological process by which games are experienced.  Bioshock is a game that hits all of the marks when it comes to the five elements of a game experience.


The world of Rapture is as creepy as it is visually stunning.  From the moment you crash land into the Atlanic and begin exploring Rapture, it is impossible to stop scanning the game world, because everywhere you turn there are interesting details and locations.  The combination of artificially light, and a world engulfed by water makes for a beautiful game that is a pleasure to play and explore.

One aspect that really stood out during my short play through was the audio component.  The games sound, does an excellent job of bringing the under water world to life.  Whether it is the sound of gushing water, echoes or the clanking of a big daddy, they all contribute to the sense that the player is in an underwater world full of evil creatures.

Although the game world is beautiful and fun to just explore the player actually has to fight the creepers dwelling in the deep.  Sutton-Smith’s third element is motor response.  The combat in Bioshock is intuitive.  There are two ways to kill an enemy.  Right trigger fires traditional weapons like a wrench, handgun or machine gun, while the left trigger is for plasmids.  Plasmids are genetic enhancements that give the player a wide range of special abilities that like lightening and fire.  These combat options give the player a variety of attacks and keep the combat interesting.

Concentration is the next important element of the game experience.  In the depths of rapture there is no telling what creature lurks in the deep.  As the visuals and audio suck the player in, it is easy to get lost in the world of Rapture.  Whether you’re concentrated on killing the big daddy in the next room or tracking down Andrew Ryan and discovering his secrets, it is difficult to not concentrate on the game.

The final component is Perceptual Patterns of Learning.  As the number of plasmids in your arsenal increases, so does your ability to interact with the game world and deal different death blows to enemies.  The player is simultaneously learning the structure of Rapture itself and how different combinations of attacks can eliminate the enemy quicker.

  1. suzannescott says:

    This was a good focus, but in future posts you want to push past these descriptive terms (stunning, beautiful, excellent, etc.) and dig into specifics: HOW do the visual and audio suck the play in (or create the magic circle)? HOW do you learn the structure of the game? This is nicely comprehensive in terms of Sutton-Smith’s categories, but needs a bit more detail and to be rooted in concrete examples (images might have also helped with this, to give you specific moments to point to).

    Just a minor note: your impulse to italicize/clearly demarcate the 5 elements was a good one, just be sure you’re uniform in these formatting decisions (e.g. visual and aural).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s