Levine: Dialogue is the “least effective” communication tool in games

Monday, 28 November 2011 08:30 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Although BioShock: Infinite abandons the silent protagonist schtick, Irrational Games boss Ken Levine is still a champion of quiet.

“It’s always very tempting to have people talk, you know? We’ll do a level review and either me or somebody else will have like an idea, ‘this person will say this!’, and generally that’s the least effective way to get across information in a video game,” Levine told IGN.

“You know the audio line to the player is about a 14.4 connection but the visual line is a cable modem in terms of how well you can communicate and how much data you can send to them at once.

“Audio dialogue is a very thin line because you only hear it in order. You hear this line then that line, whereas visuals can all come at once. You can take in so much visually at once, so we really try to tell as much of the story as we can in the visual space. We don’t always succeed but that’s the goal.”

In this line of reasoning, Levine added that the game will be “better off in some ways” if Irrational can arrange to have primary antagonist Songbird never speak.

“The nice thing about silence is it forces you to make very clear decisions about that character,” he added.

“It forces you to make that character have very clear motivations because you can’t caught up in a ton of subtlety. Now hopefully when [people see] Songbird and Elizabeth they understand there is some subtlety in that relationship, there’s some complexity to that relationship.

“It doesn’t necessarily require words. The goal is to get across that relationship without them sitting down and having coffee and discussing it.”

BioShock: Infinite is expected on major platforms in 2012.

Thanks, games.on.net.