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While some shooters changed the way that we play games, with features like robust multiplayer and chest high walls, Bioshock is the only game that changed the way we think about games.
During the confrontation with Andrew Ryan the revelation that the player has been mind-controlled the entire time elucidates the central theme of control. While this revelation is central to Bioshock’s plot, it calls into question every objective ever completed in every game that we have ever played.
Bioshock's twist turned a polite turn of phrase into an abhorrent, yet compelling command. As a player, we want to complete the objectives given to us, but, as Andrew Ryan has pointed out, we are only completing the objective because we are told to do so, due to the subversion of the protagonist’s free will. However, if we, the players, control the protagonist, and his free will has been subverted because he must complete the objectives given to him, then our own free will has been subverted by simply playing the game.
Bioshock was a game that knew it was a game, and used that knowledge against us. It showed us that in games, choice does exist, but the choices have never been ours, the players. The choice lies with the developers, the designers, the ones who string us along with checkpoints and objectives, and no matter how open the world is, or how many choices we are given, Bioshock has shown us that our choices are only the choices that the developer allows us to make.
In the end, Bioshock has shown us that every time we put in a game and hold the controller, we are not in control of the game. The game controls us, making us slaves to the game.
For this introspective revelation, Bioshock is not only the best Xbox 360 shooter, it is a game that cements the medium as art.