Monthly Archives: February 2014

Booker, Are You Afraid of God? No, I’m Afraid of the Multiple-Worlds Theory

Major spoilers for Bioshock Infinite. Didn’t watch/play? DON’T READ! Disclaimer: I am basing this off what is in the game/DLC – nothing more. If the Infinite developers have come forth with more concrete information, please let me know in the comments!

Bioshock Infinite… I mean, where do you begin? I’m not going to lie: I love this game. Love it. But it also makes my head hurt.

Infinite has one of those plots where if you don’t think too hard about it, it all makes sense. Once you start really thinking about the world-construction, your head spins in circles. This post is about the ‘rules’ of Infinite’s multiple worlds. I’ll outline the facts, suggest theories and pose some questions.

When it comes to the semantics of time and space in Infinite, one thing is clear: this is not multiple-worlds theory. For all ye uninformed: in a vastly reductive, sparknotes-version, multiple worlds theory is the idea that every decision every person ever makes spawns another universe where you choose the other choice(s).  As a physics theory, it’s obviously way more complicated than that, but for our purposes, it’s a sufficient explanation. (If you want, check out the interesting/disturbing thought experiment that the theory produced.)

Back to the topic: so Bioshock Infinite is not about multiple worlds theory as we know it. There are several universes within the game, all of which have ‘different outcomes’ (Chen Lin is alive, Chen Lin is dead; Booker is alive, Booker is dead) but: “There’s always a lighthouse, there’s always a man, there’s always a city.”

This means that there are fixtures in every, single universe – constants that never change. The Infinite world is some form of limited multiple worlds theory, which is smart when you think about it from a plot/narrative perspective. The ability to warp time has presented all sorts of plot-holes for even the best of authors (Rowling’s Prisoner of Azkaban, anyone?).

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