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BioShock Infinite stays true to its setting despite some “negative Rorschach views”

Friday, 14 December 2012 01:34 GMT By Naren Hooson

With all the Ken Levine BioShock Infinite interviews coming out, PC Gamer delve into some of the darker elements of the game resulting from the period it’s set in.

Talking to PC Gamer, he goes into the time period of the game and staying true to it, but also some things that many might not consider about American History.

“I don’t feel that it’s the purpose of the game or the responsibility of the game to be a survey of American history,” he said. “Certainly there are many things that are in Columbia that were very prevalent at the time, whether it’s charismatic religious movements, whether it’s a sense of growing nationalism—which was very present at the time. I’ve talked about that before, so I won’t bore you with that again. Or the deeply institutionalized racism and classism, which were… It was so prevalent that when you go back and read the writings of known figures like Teddy Roosevelt, who was extremely progressive in so many ways… I’m not using “progressive” in the sort of “Fox News versus MSNBC” way. I’m just saying that he was involved in anti-trust, in splitting up large corporations like Standard Oil.

“He was also a champion of the rights of the poor. But he was also what you would call a neoconservative in a lot of ways. He was very keen on American expansion. When you read his writings as sort of what you would call, at the very least, an extremely compassionate conservative, he would refer to Jews and African-Americans in the most horrible of terms. He was a man of his time. Abraham Lincoln, if you read his writings now, how would you ascribe him? Even though he’s the most important abolitionist of all time, and a great man, he was a man of his time. He viewed African-Americans as a lesser race. He just thought they should be free. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. George Washington owned slaves. People were men of their times, and this is a game that’s set in a time where, if you don’t have those elements in the game, it’s just dishonest, you know?”

Levine said he realized the team needed to diversify but not because “it was unrepresentative of reality” and he wanted to be, but because it was need to tell a story.

“Most people don’t know how Catholics were viewed in this country, or how the Irish were viewed in this country,” he said. “They were viewed as… I use this term obviously not from myself, but at the time they were viewed as subhuman by some people. When we had our first Catholic president in 1960, many people thought he was going to be an operative of the Pope. He had to publicly proclaim that he wasn’t. We’re fortunate to grow up in a time where a lot of that is behind us. But this game wouldn’t be honest if we didn’t have that.”

A game like this will be perceived in many different ways and is somewhat of a mirror for some, Levine explains.

“When I started working on this game, relatives of mine were very offended, because they thought it was an attack on the Tea Party. Specifically an attack on the Tea Party, which they were very active in. Then, when we sort of exposed the Vox Populi people, I saw a lot more left-leaning websites being like, ‘This is trying to tear down the labor movement!’ I remember that I saw postings, unfortunately, on a white supremacist website, Stormfront, where people literally said, ‘The Jew Ken Levine is making a white-person-killing simulator.’

“I think these games are a bit of a Rorschach for people. It’s usually a negative Rorshach. It pisses them off, you know? But I’d way rather have that than to…These games are, to some degree… If they’re about anything they’re about not buying into a single point of view. About having a lack of confidence in anything. They’re not ever an attack on a single idea. It’s a bit of a plague on all your houses. The American experiment is insanely successful and positive. The notion of democracy is the most… There’s that saying that “it’s the worst political system in the world, except for all the others.” It’s transformed the entire world. The founders in this world, this city, were worshipped.”

Levine goes on to compare his experience with the first BioShock to cable TV show Mad Men, saying he was stunned the team was “given this money to make a game about failed Objectivist utopia,” you know? It’s insane.”

You should also check out Stace’s interview with Levine following the first hands on of the game.

Game’s out in March on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

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6 Comments

  1. Telepathic.Geometry

    Spelling mistake in the title – “its setting”

    Also, the text in “VG24/7′s interview” is b0rked.

    Feel free to delete this post once you’ve fixed it. :)

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Naren Hooson

    Cheers. What do you mean by b0rked? Sorry

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Telepathic.Geometry

    Man, reading this makes me worry less and less about Infinite. Sounds like it’s gonna be full of interesting characters. :)

    Also solves the mystery of whether SuChong was Chinese or Korean. ^-^

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Telepathic.Geometry

    Sorry, I mean that it looks funny. The apostrophes are different in:

    Barry’s interview;
    VG24/7′s interview.

    Or is it only on my browser? I’m using Google Chrome…

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Sini

    hmm this reminds of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7qKD-Ph7ds

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Naren Hooson

    Yeah, it does look different, not sure why. It appropriates it for numbers perhaps.

    #6 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • HBO Go app now available on PlayStation 4

    Sony has announced the HBO Go app will be made available for download later today for PlayStation 4. The app works just like the PS version. Now you can watch True Detective, Game of Thrones, Veep and more through your console. Information on installation is available through the PS Blog.

  • Skyrim mods no longer restricted to 100MB in size

    Bethesda has announced a beta for Creation Kit update 1.9.33, lifts the 100MB size restriction for Skyrim mod makers. The beta is for both Skyrim’s PC launcher and the Creation Kit which will allow for unlimited file sizes. Here are the notes: Creation Kit 1.9.33 Update Creation Kit now supports unlimited file sizes for mods […]

  • Mad Max release date set for September, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions canned

    Mad Max from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios has been given a September release date, along with the new of a last-gen cancellation. The axing of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were announced via Game Informer. Mad Max is the magazine’s featured game for the April issue. Avalanche, according GI, nixed development on […]

  • MGS 5: The Phantom Pain out in September, Kojima “closing the loop” on saga

    Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will be released in September, according to an IGN Italy video, which also features Hideo Kojima discussing “With Metal Gear Solid 5, I’m finally “closing the loop” on the Metal Gear saga. The video has since been removed, but an image cap of the date is posted above. […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 Rockstar Energy Car Pack now available

    The Rockstar Energy Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One is available now, alongside the free car for March. The free car is the Acura Integra Type-R, and the Rockstar pack included the following vehicles: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC 2015 Subaru WRX STI 1996 BMW 850CSi 2015 Jaguar XFR-S 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert […]

  • 3DS firmware update kills web browser exploit

    Nintendo has issued a 3DS firmware update which fixes a web browser exploit that was being used to run pirated Game Boy Color ROMs since January as well as inject code within downloadable games. Another piece of code, per Eurogamer, changed the setting on the handheld to make it region-free. The exploit was only available […]

  • Unreal Tournament video shows updated textures on Outpost 23

    The latest footage from Epic’s new Unreal Tournament has surfaced, and it shows off the game’s first high-textured map which is called Outpost 23. As you can see from Zaccubus’ video, its the same are which Epic showed in the flythrough video from last year, only with updated textures and some new areas outside. The […]

  • Final add-on for Sunset Overdrive arrives in April

    The final add-on for Sunset Overdrive, Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines, will be released in April. On April 1 to be exact. No, that’s not an April Fool’s joke from Insomniac Games either. Below, you can watch a fist-look at the new story, area, and traversal mechanic.

  • Heroes of the Storm playable at EGX Rezzed

    Heroes of the Storm will be playable at EGX Rezzed. This will be the first UK public hands-on with the online team brawler. Blizzard will also host giveaways and friendly tournaments at its stand. Tickets for all three days of Rezzed are still available, and you can purchase a pass through the official website. EGX […]

  • PES 2015 Data Pack 4 coming next week with Winter Transfers, new faces

    Data Pack 4 for Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has been dated, and it updates the game with Winter Transfers, new player faces, and additional stadiums. The latest free update contains real-time player transfers made within the January window, and player ratings have also been updated. Additionally, a number of improved likenesses to key players will […]

  • Here’s the changelog for Dragon Age: Inquisition Patch 5

    Notes for upcoming Patch 5 for Dragon Age: Inquisition have been posted, noting improvements to gameplay and stability, and the new features outlined back in early February. Along with the new party storage system added to the Undercroft at Skyhold, players also have the ability to adjust the size of subtitles. Below you will find […]

  • Game of Thrones, Mortal Kombat X, Batman mobile games on the way

    Warner Bros. has announced free-to-play mobile titles spanning its DC Comics, Mortal Kombat and Game of Thrones properties. The following five new games under development are: Mortal Kombat X from NetherRealm Studios: The game blends fighting and card collection with cinematic gameplay and Fatalities. Play as both classic and fighters, and if you own the […]

  • Win! Beta access to new MMORPG Skyforge and DLC worth $70

    We have ten Wrath of the Gods Founders Packs to giveaway for new RPG Skyforge, worth over $70. All you need to do to win a Wrath of the Gods pack is enter your details in the form below and we’ll pick 10 winners at random on Thursday, March 5, after 3pm GMT. Skyforge is […]

  • PC gaming expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018

    PC gaming is alive and well. In fact, it’s expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018. According to game-business group Open Gaming Alliance, the PC gaming industry is expected to grow beyond its current $26 billion worth and to a massive $35 billion by the year 2018. The information is based on data collected […]

  • Advanced Warfare: new patch adds new weapon, Master Prestige ranks, more

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has received a new patch that gives season pass holders early access to a new weapon and everyone else a myriad of fixes and additions. The patch went live today on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, without any official notes. CharlieIntel reports that among the new additions is the new […]

  • Destiny’s end game and raids explained

    Destiny’s end game can be a bit obtuse to those not used to MMO games. Fear not, we’ve got a few quick tips on how to crack it. Arekkz Gaming has a video for new players of Destiny or those who are looking to brush up on their knowledge of the game. Today’s theme is […]

  • Capcom adds local co-op to Resident Evil: Revelations 2 on PC

    Following fan outrage over lack of local co-op support for the PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Capcom has now added it. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 now officially supports split-screen local co-op in both campaign and raid mode. The update is currently in beta on Steam, but anyone can opt-in to try it. Capcom […]

  • New Destiny glitch spawns infinite Thralls on Earth

    Destiny’s latest glitch spawns infinite Thralls to help fuel your bounty hunting and loot lust. The glitch is simple to replicate. You’ll need to start The Dark Within mission on Earth, on any difficulty. Then follow the steps in the video below (Via DualShockers) to get to an area out of the map. You’ll then […]

  • Battlefield 4 Winter Patch is here with new game mode, netcode improvements and more

    DICE has released the Winter Patch for Battlefield 4. The patch brings an eSports focus with new game mode Squad Obliteration and plenty more. Battlefield 4 Winter Patch is now live on all platforms. It’s just over 400MB on PC and 1.34GB on consoles. The patch adds new game mode Squad Obliteration and more customisation […]