“A man chooses, a slave obeys – Andrew Ryan”
The Steam summer sale is on and gamers around the world are emptying their wallets and forgoing meals to purchase some games to see them through the months ’til Christmas. I’m restraining myself since I’ve got that EVE Online subscription to worry about (decided to forgo subscribing another character though, as painful as it may be to finally write it down), but I’ve picked up quite a few games. Hopefully I end up making the most of my money and actually playing them; apparently these sales are so alluring for others that games are purchased that are never touched, left in that digital collection like those toys bought for us as kids that we never played with.
Anyway, a few days ago I bought Bioshock. Definitely not new, and this won’t be a review or guide because I’m sure there are plenty of those out there already. I have never played it before, but I watched the trailer back in 2008 and it freaked me out. Personally, I cannot stand horror movies nor horror games, something my friends go great lengths to exploit.
In addition to my inability to stomach scary shit, I’m also a little forgetful. Bioshock Infinite came out much more recently, and the blue skies and breathtaking steam-punky setting had me totally forget about my initial impressions about the other two Bioshock games. So I picked them up and started playing them, and well, it was tough going.
I was particularly affected by the parts where the lights blacked out on me and all I was left with was the suspense created by the music combined with horrible noises. They really mastered the squelching and ripping, that’s for sure. -shudder-
The scene above was another one of the many disturbing moments in the story; these previously living humans frozen in strange poses in wax had my heart beating and my resolve to complete the game wavering.
I eventually stopped freezing up and quitting the game to take a breather at parts like these, and instead when I got to those moments I braced myself, reloaded the biggest weapon in my arsenal, and dived in ready to shoot in every direction wildly until I killed everything.
Anyway. Besides some hiccups, I definitely enjoyed playing it. So ends the little bit of a review in a post that I said wouldn’t be a review.
So, what I really wanted to address from Bioshock was what I started to think about when that quote popped up. The difference between a man and a slave. This is an important topic not because we have slaves these days but because we’re interacting with new people more than ever. My words don’t have to be mailed and shipped to the other side of the world. I don’t need a carrier pigeon to carry my words to a friend on the other side of the city. We’re connected and whilst communication through writing is not always the right medium to communicate, it’s dead convenient. Even that problem is slowly being phased out with video conferences; soon we’ll have virtual reality technology where even if you’re not in a boardroom physically, you damn well feel like you are.
It’s no surprise then, that international management is becoming the hot topic of enterprises who see new opportunities over their home country’s borders. I’m interested in the leadership aspects of it and especially interested in applying them to online gaming. EVE Online is one of those games. Playing alone is a road not many take and not many should take; and hence because player interaction is vital, leadership becomes just as critical.
Leadership in this context involves the challenges of leading multicultural teams, with lifestyles and cultures from all over our world, differing experiences and ideas of how they are to work, and how their leaders should lead, different tastes and values, and totally varied ideas that they can bring to the table. However, I’m not going to discuss every aspect of leadership either.
Back to Bioshock. Considering the quote of the post, and applying it to leadership, we get to the question: “If a man chooses to obey and be lead, is he a slave?”
If a leader is charismatic, irresistable, powerful, persuasive, enchanting, visionary, are his or her followers slaves?
Martin Luther King, Jr. supporters, slaves?
Followers of Mahatma Gandhi?
Believers in Lenin’s revolutionary ideals?
Not all men are leaders. Not all men want to lead. Not all men want the responsibility to shoulder the responsibility of the happiness of all those under them.
But like the individuals above some do, and when they do, they will always find people who obey them. Because most men are going to be led. Most men make a decision to be obedient. Whether it is because they are a poor student looking to make money to fund their gaming addiction, or because their leader is utterly convincing, or because the lives of their family are threatened, they become obedient.
Does it make a difference that the reasons for entering into obedience are different? Is the third scenario even a choice? Does choice matter? Perhaps it does. Perhaps that’s why we have servants, and we have slaves. Pledging your life to the eternal service of a master may sound like slavery to a free man, but compare that to someone hobbled and forced to attend to their master’s every whim, obedient because there is no other option, and a distinction can definitely be drawn.
A man can choose to obey, a slave must obey.
But then we get to situations where a man has a choice to obey, then has no choice to disobey later. Christ, the world is complicated.