Revisiting Rapture

Revisiting Rapture

A return trip to the beloved underwater dystopia.
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It’s been a while, a long while actually, since I last stepped foot into “Bioshock’s” hauntingly beautiful art-deco dystopia. I couldn’t remember the last time I had gone toe-to-toe with the hulking Big Daddies and mentally anguished Splicers that roamed Rapture’s underwater halls, yet it felt as if I’d never put down the controller. It felt as if I had suddenly jumped back to 2007, only around 14 years old at the time, gripping the Xbox 360’s controller, not wanting to turn off the game even after hours of exploration and tense firefights. I found myself almost immediately picking up old habits from when I played as a teenager, obsessively hacking every turret, security camera, and vending machine I could find, approaching combat with uneasy caution, and allowing myself moments to simply take in the city’s gorgeous (though dilapidated) architecture. Even with all the familiarity, however, “Bioshock” feels just as creative and atmospheric as the first time I played.

There is a real sense of dread in the original “Bioshock” game, a tension that pulls you in and makes even easy encounters with enemies feel fraught with danger. This is a game world that does not want you to grow comfortable, a game where you are alone throughout, accompanied only by disembodied voices over the radio or forever entombed in audio diaries. The rest of your adventure is spent mostly in solitude, roaming dimly lit hallways and the melancholic remnants of a failed utopian city. Outside the crumbling walls of Rapture is the Atlantic, ocean water oppressively seeping through cracked walls and burst pipes, keeping you constantly aware that you are trapped in a claustrophobic ruin, crawling with twisted characters and science-fiction terrors.

Even now, years after originally completing the game, “Bioshock” still manages to enthral me. Garry Schyman’s orchestral score flourishes and sways at all the right moments, rumbling bass tones evoke nautical imagery as high strings seem to swarm in with creeping warnings of impending doom. When the orchestra is not providing the tonal punches it is the sound design of the world itself that creates these strange, dark moments. Jukeboxes flicker erratically as pleasant classics such as Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” flutter on, their casual, sunny dispositions sprinkled throughout the dank halls of Rapture, juxtaposed perfectly against the more sinister tone of the game and its world. More than just a clever opposite of the overarching tone, these songs, alongside old advertisements and other elements of the city serve as a reminder to the player of what once was, before the societal collapse.



While the smaller moments that build the game are rife with sombre reflection and muscle-tensing terror, the story and themes of “Bioshock” stand as some of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and literary in gaming. The entire city of Rapture, and its founder, Andrew Ryan, are both critiques of Ayn Rand’s works, “Atlas Shrugged” in particular. The game world is founded upon Libertarian and Objectivist ideals, leaving the player to stumble through the wreckage of a great social experiment gone awry. By the finale you are left with the ghosts of this city, and the ideologues that served as its stewards, haunting you. Moral choices throughout the game change the ending in different ways, but when it is all said and done you are still alone with the questions that Rapture’s denizens have left for you.

“Bioshock’s” questions on morality, humanity, society, and the illusions of choice are thoughtful and tragic, executed brilliantly by writer/director Ken Levine and his staff, and have stuck with me to this day. With the recent release of the remastered editions and the fairly cheap prices that old copies can be bought for there is no reason not to give Irrational Games’ masterwork a chance. If you have never delved into the waterlogged art-deco ruins of Rapture it is a journey well worth undertaking. If you, like me, have wandered its grief-stricken halls before and want to return to the city under the sea there is no better time than now.


Cover Image Credit: Bioshock WIki

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Stop Saying 'Love Is Love' And Then Shame Me For Dating A Republican

"How can you date a Republican?!" Quite easily, actually.

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"And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love." Other theater geeks like me probably also remember this quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony acceptance speech in 2016. Now, thanks to Lin-Manuel and his talent for catchy phrases, every time someone says "love is love," all I can think of is Lin-Manuel's emphatic cry for equality.

This cry is one that I support wholeheartedly. I think that you should be allowed to love whomever you choose and that you should do so without fear of hatred or scrutiny. If you are a guy who loves guys, great. If you are a girl who loves girls, great. If you are a girl who loves guys and girls, great. You are born a certain way with certain sexual preferences, and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you believe that people should be free to love anyone they choose, then, honey, you better start looking past gender.

Let me tell you a little story.

Recently, I had a conversation with one of my closest friends about my boyfriend of almost 11 months. Somehow (and I'm shocked that this hadn't come up before), my boyfriend's political preferences became the topic of conversation.

The conversation went something like this:

"Wait, so is Tom a Democrat or Republican?"

"He's a Republican."

"WHAT?! Are you serious?"

"Yep."

"How can you date a Republican?"

After that, I basically went on a five-minute rant about how at the end of the day, his political preferences only make up a small fraction of who he is as a person and that I am not so shallow that I would be deterred by something this trivial.

At our cores, Tom and I value the exact same things: compassion, knowledge, kindness, dedication, honesty, respect, and above all else, love. Tom loves me unconditionally and I give him that same love in return; honestly, what else could I ask for?

Tom and I do get in some political arguments from time to time, but we also agree on those issues that are most important to me: female reproductive rights, marriage equality, and support for survivors of sexual assault. All of those things are non-negotiables for me, and Tom understands that and possesses his own list of non-negotiables.

Before you ask, yep, he voted for Trump. Did that take me back at first? Yes. Did I struggle to understand what would compel a person to vote for him? Absolutely. Did that thought kind of terrify me at first? Hell yes.

But you know what? After I just sat and listened to Tom's reasoning as to why he voted for him and watched him delve deep into Trump's policies, I could understand why some would vote for him. And to tell the truth, once I fell in love with Tom, none of that mattered anymore. And what is sad is that people so often fall so deep into their own echo chambers nowadays, that they wouldn't even give someone with different beliefs their ear. Well, I'm damn glad I did because Tom is the most amazing person I've ever met and I fall more in love with him every day.

So to tie this all together with a pretty little bow, if you're going to go around and preach that love is love and that everyone should be free to love whom they choose, then that shouldn't change for me. Maybe you're a Democrat that would never date a Republican or maybe you're a Republican who would never date a Democrat; that's your choice. But we don't get to choose who we fall in love with (much to the dismay of my liberal family and friends). Just keep an open mind and who knows? Maybe you could find some absolutely epic happiness.

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I'm Not Voting, And Guess What, That Is OK

To all of the recent political endorsements by celebrities and Facebook posts telling me I should register to vote, I'm not voting.

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I am not the type of person to normally ever write a Facebook post related to politics, yet here I am dedicating a whole article to it. Or rather about voting itself, not my political affiliation. For the most part, I like to keep my political outlooks to myself instead of broadcasting them to all of my friends, family, coworkers, and that handful of people I do not actually know but I accepted their friend request anyway. Instead, I grace this group of people with animal videos because it doesn't cause any friction, the videos are always light-hearted, and there are already so many other people posting about the next election.

But tonight that changed. I saw a post about how people who do not vote should be fined. I do not know why this ignited something in me, but it did. I have no problem ignoring every other person telling me to register to vote or vote a hundred times on my feed, but charging me a fine for exercising my right crossed a line.

Quite frankly, I do not identify as a liberal democrat or conservative republican so I should not be subjected to vote for either. I choose not to vote because I do not support either side of the political spectrum and I do not think any of the candidates are true to what I want in the future of my country. There are some ideas I like from Democrats as well as some ideas I like from Republicans, but because of the political climate in recent years, the political parties are becoming more polarized than ever with their ideas, and instead of seeking a moderate stance, are becoming more extreme. I understand that voting is seen as a civic responsibility that comes with being a U.S. citizen, but I have the right to vote not the obligation to vote, and people should respect that decision.

Can you imagine amending the constitution to include penalties for not voting? Where is the democracy in forcing citizens to the ballots via scare tactics? I just do not want to be forced into voting or supporting something that I do not believe in. I will vote when there is a candidate that earns my vote and that I support instead of voting just to vote.

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