profile of PaulVerhoeven

Shut up already about the Bioshock Infinite box art!

The box art for Bioshock: Infinite, the highly anticipated slab of steampunk wonderment due out not nearly soon enough, has created a massive shockwave of dissent online. I'm not exaggerating, either; it hasn't reached the dizzying and mostly (I feel) justifiable heights that Mass Effect 3 gave birth to, but still, the reaction has been pretty mammoth considering how scintillatingly low the stakes are.

Let's take a look at the facts. First off, Irrational Games released the box art image, which you can see (and judge) right here.

And that's when people unleashed. Over at Kotaku (a site I unabashedly adore, for the record), Owen Good presented an array of criticisms, ranging from twitterers and Facebook fans panning it for being too generic, to people calling it misogynistic for leaving out Elizabeth, a key female character in the story, who, as a supporting character, is offered a supporting visual role on the back of the box (something most people seem to be blissfully unaware of). Some people even latched onto the burning American flag in the background, missing the point entirely, and proving just how right I am to want to punch them in their collective throats.

Because it doesn't matter. Not even a little bit. The box art is marketing, pure and simple, and putting a badass Pinkerton agent named Booker DeWitt in a frankly arousing pose on the cover in period clothing with sparks flying around him is a brilliant marketing move. Men want to be him, women want to be with him. Also, plenty of men will want to be with him, and women will… the point is, he's an extremely appealing hero figure, and the artwork depicting him is gorgeous.

But even if the artwork was god awful, which it isn't, it wouldn't matter. You think the box will be taken into account once the reviews come out? Do you really think that academics will extol the merits of the original cover of Moby Dick whilst discussing the narrative? Did critics ceaseless battering of the poster for The Kings Speech in any way affect the film itself? No. Of course not. It's irrelevant.

No, shut up. It's irrelevant. Let it go. Whether or not the game is good is genuinely up for debate, but not until the game comes out. But until then, stop acting like a horny teenager waiting in bed for their first lay to wander in from the bathroom, and whose impatience has reached such dizzying heights that they've started mindlessly humping random items of their pending paramours clothing. Slow your roll. This isn't the game, it's a shadow. A promise. Paul Revere rang his bell and yelled that the British were coming,  but at no point did even the most subhuman moron lament the discordance of the notes issuing forth from his frigging bell.

*drops microphone and walks out*

/Paul
profile of PaulVerhoeven

4 comments so far..

  • Woobie's avatar
    Commenter
    Woobie
    Date and time
    Tuesday 04 Dec 2012 - 12:39 PM
    Yeah, it's just marketing bullshit, but it's still disappointing. Look at the cover for the original Bioshock; you've got the haunting steampunk setting of Rapture, dimly lit by the glow of the ocean bearing down on it, with the Big Daddy and Little Sister, two of this gaming generation's most iconic, easily recognised figures, standing front and center, and that gorgeous Deco title. It perfectly encapsulates what made Bioshock different, exciting, and special. What do we get for Infinite? A generic muscle-bound gun-toting protagonist (who, this being a first person game, you're never going to see), a burning flag, and a blimp. From what we know so far, the game features a city in the sky, tears in space-time, rollercoaster rails you can hang from by your freaking hand, and a well-drawn female character who has something more to contribute to gameplay than her (admittedly stupidly oversized) boobs, but is any of that on the front cover? The shitty box art doesn't have any bearing on the game, but if Infinite turns out to be the classic we hope it will be, that shitty box art is going to represent the product for gaming history, and it's going to do an awful job.
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  • PaulVerhoeven's avatar
    Commenter
    PaulVerhoeven
    Date and time
    Tuesday 04 Dec 2012 - 1:57 PM
    I see what you're saying, design-wise, even if I don't agree. But your entire argument stems on the assumption that the cover of a game matters, which it doesn't; we'll be completely digital soon anyway. Ninety percent of ALL box art is either average from a design perspective, or aimed specifically at the rare crowd of impulse game buyers. It in no way matters, unless you look at the box art every time you play and are visibly offended by it, in which case you have problems far beyond anything the developers could help you with.
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  • Philthy's avatar
    Commenter
    Philthy
    Date and time
    Wednesday 05 Dec 2012 - 11:37 AM
    Ah, but even when we go completely digital that shitty box art will be the face of the game's shop page on Steam. Having said that, I can't really think of any box art for a game I've played recently, so I don't know why I should care about this. Think it's time for a top 10 best box art/misleading game boxes article though.
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  • PaulVerhoeven's avatar
    Commenter
    PaulVerhoeven
    Date and time
    Wednesday 05 Dec 2012 - 12:13 PM
    I am curious as to how people think it's misleading, though. It shows the protagonist, holding a gun, in period costume, for a game in which you play that protagonist and shoot things in period costume. It shows nothing misleading whatsoever; perhaps the only crime is that it is a tad unoriginal, but sweet jesus people are getting hilariously wound up over this. If you go to your game library 90% of covers have heroes in cool poses. The first Bioshock's plot relied on reveals and twists re: the hero so showing the hero wouldn't really have worked. Bioshock 2 showed you on the cover in the suit. Pretty much even the artiest covers, with some notable exceptions, show the playable characters in some form and the name of the game, so I fail to see how this is so different. It's like overnight gamers suddenly became aesthetes with degrees in marketing and cover design, or that this game, this one particular game, deserves special treatment.
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