Autonomy, Heteronomy, and Bioethics in BioShock

  • Arno Görgen
  • Matthis Krischel


The digital game BioShock addresses questions about human enhancement, unbounded biomedical research and unregulated technology. Our analysis is situated in an interdisciplinary field between media studies, the history of ideas, and bioethics. We focus on the processes of generating meaning and knowledge while playing a game, and therefore on the context in which the game is played and how it may be understood by different audiences. What marks this medium as potentially more powerful than movies or novels is that the player interacts with the game and participates in both the narrative and the ludic experience.

In this chapter, we explore how the theme of autonomy/heteronomy is addressed in ludic terms in the game and give two examples of narrative elements that address autonomy within the context of bioethics and medical ethics. We show that in BioShock the medium of computer games has been used as a thought experiment, examining the consequences of unregulated medical research and practice.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arno Görgen
    • 1
  • Matthis Krischel
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Unit Communication DesignBern University of the Arts HKBBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department for the History, Theory and Ethics of MedicineHeinrich Heine University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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