Welcome back to Gaming For Official Use Only, it’s been a while. I thought it would be interesting to do an article that sort of mixed two of my columns together, and honestly FTP needs to rest for a while. Nobody wants more politics during an election cycle. This is the first half of a two part article between Gaming For Official Use Only and Gaming On The Fringe that uses the “science” behind Bioshock: Infinite to tie back to two different real world topics. As such, I won’t go into detail about the science portions in this article. That one is another article, and one that will be written soon after this one.
In this article for the gaming section I’m looking at Bioshock: Infinite, but not the core story line per se, but instead how the advanced technology of Columbia is claimed to work. There is no way I can do this without spoiling some of the story, so SPOILER ALERT from now on.
Bioshock:Infinite is one hell of a game; honestly, that’s the best way I can describe it. Few games’ story hooked me – no pun intended – as hard as this one did, and the world it built was nothing short of amazing. In large parts of the game I just wandered around to watch the scenery play itself out in front of me, and it was great. Columbia was not just a static backdrop but a living, breathing environment where dozens of NPCs went about their “normal” ways ignoring the main character, until the big reveal. What makes Columbia so amazing is that it’s set in 1912, yet Columbia is a floating city of technology, often near modern day levels. How can this be? Simple: quantum
All of the advanced technology employed in Columbia, including the floating systems themselves, are based upon quantum mechanics and alternate universes. The city uses a system that claims it’s based upon quantum levitation which is technobabble but might vaguely be based upon the Casimir Effect. Instead, Columbia uses Lutece Particles, named for their discoverer Rosalind Lutece along with Robert Lutece, who is not her twin brother but her alternate self from a parallel universe. That is the true basis of all of Columbia’s advances: they’re raiding alternate timelines.
Alternate timelines/parallel world/alternate universes are really just different ways of saying the same thing. Essentially, these are universes like our own where history didn’t go the same path it did here. The classic scenario of “Hitler Wins WWII” notwithstanding, the changes between universes can be as simple as you picking something different for breakfast this morning to a fundamental law of physics being different so molecules never forme. Of course this means that there are an infinite combination of possible alternate universes, and it’s very likely that you can find one that would possess the kind of highly advanced technology you want to play with. If the universe you just popped into doesn’t have what you want, you can just find another. Not only that, but by virtue of the Law of Averages, not only would some universe have the technology you want at the moment, but said tech would exist right in the location you want it to. This is the basis of how Elizabeth uses “tears” to rip a part of reality out and replace it with the corresponding chunk from another universe. Do you need a mounted machine gun? Well, somewhere there’s a universe that has one right in front of you, so Elizabeth just drags it into our universe.
Now, the question ends up being what’s the ultimate source of the high technology from Columbia, and that leads us to a very interesting place: Rapture. As Booker and Elizabeth escape the underwater city to the infamous lighthouse outside, Elizabeth explains how there are many Bookers, many Elizabeths and many worlds. Booker is actually Elizabeth’s father who sold her to Robert Lutece on behalf of Columbia’s dictator Zachary Comstock. Booker changed his mind soon after and chased after them. Comstock freaked out and pulled Elizabeth through the tear quickly, but her little finger was cut off when it closed. Somehow having a finger in one world and her in another lets her play merry hell with the fabric of reality. It turns out that Comstock is actually a future alternate Booker who had given to religion to atone for his sins at the Battle of Wounded Knee but became a terrifying amalgam of religion, nationalism and authoritarianism. Also, the Luteces had worked together with Elizabeth to bring Booker in to stop this, but many had chosen to become Comstock…except the player’s Booker. He allows the various Elizabeths to kill him at the moment of conversion, to which they start blinking out of existence. The stinger shows Booker waking up back at his office to Elizabeth’s baby cries. The end.
Now, let’s ignore the fact that if the multiverse works like it does in game then there are infinite Bookers and Elizabeths. Somehow killing one Booker – which ignores the infinite universes where he was already dead or never existed – clears the time line. This isn’t even Back to the Future rules, this is Timecop rules on a three day acid and tequila bender. Further, let’s ignore the idiocy of “quantum mechanics can do ANYTHING!” style Deepak Chopra bullshit before my science nerd side has a full bore stroke. We’ll save that for the counterpart to this article where I take on the physics of multiverses, but what if we do live in a multiverse? Going deeper, what if this multiverse sometimes overlaps onto the world line we’re on? If you ask some people, that’s already happening and they call it the Mandela Effect.
The name comes from how a group of people originally responded to Nelson Mandela’s 2013 death by swearing that they remember him dying in prison sometime during the 1980’s. Comments about the status of history education aside, paranormal researcher Fiona Broome not only created the name Mandela Effect but began collecting the stories of others who agreed and starting speculating that this was proof that the various alternate realites of the multiverse not only existed, but could interplay with each other. The Mandela Effect was the name for people who remember events differently than history recorded them. I don’t mean idiots who claim things like we never landed on the moon, 9/11 was an inside job or that Luxembourg exists, I mean people who claim they vividly remember major events being completely different from everyone else.
Now, most of you are probably thinking you’ve never heard of this, and that’s not quite true. You dedicated internet denizens certainly have and I can prove it with two words: Berenstain Bears. Now, for someone of my age group (31 as of this writing) you likely have memories of reading the books as a child, if not watching the cartoon series. The funny thing is, a large number of us remember the name being BerenSTEEN Bears, and pronounced the same even though it’s spelled BerenSTAIN and pronounced as such. The internet was aflame with this recently, and I fully admit I would have sworn it was STEEN, but I was mistaken. Even now, I go back to YouTube videos of the cartoon’s theme and it’s STAIN. A cursory visit to Reddit’s Mandela Effect forum will offer dozens of people claiming to remember things differently than they are, and a few of them are the heights of unintentional hilarity. A lot of them go beyond simple pop culture to things as huge as the locations of continents. To the sub’s credit, they usually answer those with the correct point of all maps being inaccurate representations of a three dimensional object in a two dimensional space, but too many want to ignore that. Still, points for rationality, subreddit.
Now, the explanation believers offer is that this is the result of alternate timelines affecting the memory of certain people. For some reason, certain people can have their memories be influenced by the alternate sequence of events from another universe. There’s no accepted reason why it’s only certain people or concentrated on certain items, but interestingly there is also no generally accepted reason as to why it happens in the first place. Sure, there’s the standard accusations thrown at HAARP – that’s another article – or the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or of course my friends in the Illuminati, but there is nowhere near a consensus. However, since the LHC literally just collides subatomic particles at near light speed, it couldn’t cause this – otherwise the sun would be causing this 24-7-365. HAARP is just a receiving system for weather data and we banned this kinda thing from Illuminati actions a long time ago. There is one answer that satisfies why this happens and actually makes no sense whatsoever.
Psychiatry, the branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders, call this phenomenon “confabulation.” Despite sounding like a bad 80’s cartoon it actually is when someone tells a lie not because they chose to lie but because they didn’t think they were wrong. Instead of being a willful misrepresentation of the truth, it’s actually them just not knowing what the truth is. While some skeptics claim it’s just people making things up for Copypasta, I tend to agree with the confabulation theory. It’s well accepted as science that every time you remember something you don’t actually remember it, but actually you remember you remembering it. If our own cherished memories are this fluid, why wouldn’t they be for things as simple as forgetting JC Penney has the e? It’s not that people were lying or that an alternative universe messed with our spellchecks, it’s that we simply remembered the wrong thing. While I won’t comment on the plausibility of alternate universes here, Occam’s Razor clearly points at confabulation as the root cause of this phenomenon. Confabulous!…I want to say I’m sorry for taking that easy joke, but I’m really not.
While I find the Mandela Effect fascinating, I truly believe it to be a simple case of mistaken information. I very seriously doubt that alternate universes are intruding upon our reality, let alone that this was man made. By the same token, I have no doubt whatsoever that you could use alternate realities to power the kinds of things in Bioshock: Infinite, but for more on that you’ll have to read the second half of this two-parter. Until next time.