We follow that disembodied tutorial voice without ever asking why. And even when we don't, when we insist on attempting to ignore those prompts, we find that ultimately we are chained to the elements necessary to drive the plot of Bioshock Infinite (or any game) forward.
This post includes spoilers for Bioshock Infinite.
In the medium in which the audience’s choices are supposed to matter because interactivity is key, Ken Levine just seems to keep coming back to the notion that, shucks, no choices really don’t—not even in video games.
When Andrew Ryan declares that “A man chooses. A slave obeys” in the original Bioshock, he declares that the player, despite all his seeming autonomy, is a slave. That is much of the point of the “Would you kindly?” twist in Bioshock. Despite seemingly having chosen to aid Atlas or to aid Tenenbaum to save Little Sisters or to destroy them, ultimately we have been as programmed as the game itself. We follow the arrows that point us in the right direction in video games. We follow that disembodied tutorial voice without ever asking why. And even when we don’t, when we insist on attempting to ignore those prompts, we find that ultimately we are handcuffed (or chained as is the case in Bioshock, whose main character has chains tattooed on both wrists) to the elements necessary to drive the plot forward. Or else we give up in exhaustion to play something else. But to get to the end of most games in most instances, we find that we must jump through the predefined hoops that the developer deems essential to forward motion.