I've never played the first BioShock, so I haven't paid much attention to online coverage of BioShock Infinite either. About all I know is that, on some level, it tackles racism, according to Ice T's Twitter:
This new 'Bioshock Infinite' has got me hooked. Killing virtual racist. Crazy!
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) April 13, 2013
The consumer base for the gaming industry doesn't yet seem as segmented as for other media. With TV, even the major networks serve different audiences, and CBS, while being America's most watched, is also the least buzzed about. (I imagine it's huge in the same parts of the country NASCAR is—a world I'll never know or understand.) In film, Tyler Perry is a box-office superstar beloved among large segments of the nation, but Roger Ebert never got it. But, in games, although there are many different types of games for different types of gamers, the very biggest releases remain the very biggest among gamers everywhere in the country, even if they don't really seem designed to appeal to mass audiences. (In any other medium, could Grand Theft Auto's script ever be considered mainstream?). And so I wonder, how does a major game discussing racism go over in those parts of the country where racism is still running strong? I don't mean among white supremacists necessarily, but more among those wide populations of gamers who can be heard constantly spewing thoughtless racist trash talk online. We know they're buying and playing the game, but what do they make of it? Does it give them pause? Are they digging it? Do they get defensive and protest? Is it going over their heads? I actually seriously want to know how that thoughtlessly racist gamer responds when confronted with an in-game moral decision of "to be racist or not."