|Image from PopMatters|
The column is partly an expansion of the discussion Jorge and I had on this week's podcast. The broad point is that Infinite isn't afraid to deal with very heavy themes, but it also doesn't explicitly lecture the player about the significance of the imagery that's on screen. The result is a game that deals explicitly and confidently with subjects that most games never touch. Infinite goes beyond simply acknowledging that racisim, sexism, and religious zealotry exist and that those things are dangerous; it shows how those forces can structure a society by becoming daily realities that reinforce the power of those who benefit from them.
All this is done through imagery and overheard conversations, so it's up to the player to use their brain for something besides aiming and shooting. It's an approach that respects the player's time, level of engagement, and intellect. It's also an approach that is all too rare these days.
I've been wracking my brain over the last week trying to come up with other games that deal frankly with traditionally taboo subjects like racism and menstruation. There's stuff in Infinite that is even rare in the independent scene, so it's astounding that it shows up in one of the most publicized games of the past few years. Seeing this material in a game is great, especially when it's such a mainstream one. Hopefully it emboldens designers and publishers to take more thematic risks and to let strong images stand on their own.