The Escapist, Religion, and Fake Baptism

There’s nothing so untimely as being a game reviewer who can’t buy games when they’re new, except, perhaps, commenting on news events surrounding the release of a game, then covered in someone else’s podcast. Still, this is the lot I have, so I’m going to try and make the best of it. In the Escapist’s podcast, they sat down and had a discussion about in the opening of Bioshock Infinite, there’s a baptism – trust me, that’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first few minutes of the game – and a religious player objected to it, demanded a refund, and received it to him.

Now, not to open up the religious debate, or the stupidity or hipocrisy of a person who was happy to play a game which advertises itself with guns and at least one chainsaw-to-the-face murder, or the wisdom of the move itself. What I want you to consider is: Is there any context in which I could demand a refund of the same game and expect to have it?


  1. Interestingly, it’s entirely possible that if I had any interest in first-person games, I would have been in this position myself. I have seen the clip of that scene, and honest to god, I am not sure I could have played through it. Ritualistic behaviour disturbs me at the best of times.

  2. Speaking as a religious person, I’m quite capable of separating the fact that stabbing people with a sawblade who don’t exist is different from doing it in real life (and even Jesus’ statement about fantasizing about it being wrong). The fact is that Booker Dewitt is a horrible person but he becomes American Hitler because he becomes religious. That’s a pretty bizarre accusation to make and kind of flanderizes Christianity–especially since baptism is about being reborn and forgiveness of sin whereas Comstock comes to glorify all he’s done before. It’s a bizarre caricature of the religion he’s supposed to be following even if there have been been plenty of bad Christians in the past. If they wanted to insert religion as a theme, they should have gotten the religion right. It’s not like accurate racist evangelists are lacking in RL.

    1. One thing I found really interesting about the game is how little its religion directly maps onto the existing racist evangelical groups. Even though the near-deification of the Founding Fathers is present, it’s not a tenet of faith for anyone at the moment barring some truly small groups. That is one of the big points I will give the game in the vein of religion: Comstock’s faith is invented. It may rhyme with some existing beliefs, but it’s not the same.

      The idea that Booker without a baptism always becomes a useless nobody and Booker with a baptism always becomes a driven leader capable of convincing British super-scientists to do what he wants and the US Congress to finance it is pretty much horse-shit, but then I’m not fond of the ending of this game as it is. The moment is sad when you’re in it, but when you think about it, it starts to just fall apart.

      1. Yeah,

        The weird thing is that I’m wondering whether the baptism at the end is deliberate symbology (Booker dying for his/Columbia’s sins) and being reborn or just coincidence. Because the game actually works as a Christian parable about godlessness and humility but Ken Levine doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who gives that sort of message. Also, the Burial at Sea DLC torpedoes all reborn symbolism for Booker and Elizabeth.

        Tsk tsk tsk.

        1. If you can find that symbolism in it – and I can see how you could – then take your reading and run with it. The text will not aid you, nor will it hinder you with troubling depth.

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