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BioShock: Infinite altered after staffer nearly resigned

Friday, 1st March 2013 05:13 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Ken Levine has explained a recent comment in which he said he’d altered BioShock: Infinite’s plot slightly after receiving feedback from a religious colleague.

When Levine mentioned the altered content in January, commenters were quick to condemn him for bowing to censorship and conservative pressure, despite his staunch refusal to make changes just to earn approval from religious parties.

Digging deeper into the matter while speaking with Gamespot, Levine explained that a strong reaction from a colleague helped him release that his writing, and understanding of the issues, needed to be tighter to communicate what he wanted – not that his essential messaging was changed.

“There was a scene in the game at the end where one of our artists got to a point in the game, played it, turned off BioShock, opened up his computer, opened Microsoft Word, and wrote a resignation letter, it had offended him so much,” he explained.

The incident caused Levine to return to his treatment of the character Comstock.

“It occurred to me that I had to figure out why people follow him. That was the key to his character. Why do people follow him? What does he provide to them?” Levine said.

“And I struggled with that for a long time because obviously an ecstatic religious experience is something that a religious leader provides but I don’t have a connection to as a writer. And it’s always hard when you’re trying to write something that you have never felt. And that would feel dishonest to me.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the final treatment is received both by religious and non-religious gamers when BioShock infinite arrives on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on March 26.

Thanks, PC Gamer.

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43 Comments

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  1. mreko3230

    “There was a scene in the game at the end where one of our artists got to a point in the game, played it, turned off BioShock, opened up his computer, opened Microsoft Word, and wrote a resignation letter, it had offended him so much,” he explained.

    So instead of first discussing his concerns, he leaped to writting a resignation letter? Sounds like a pouty, childish reaction to me and not one of a grown adult with real, well thought out concerns.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Rosseu

    @1 My thoughts exactly. Now I am curious as to how the game was supposed to end originally. They should release two versions of the game:
    Bioshock: Infinite
    Bioshock: Infinite – Non Butthurting Edition

    #2 1 year ago
  3. manamana

    Nice MS Word advertorial, Levine, you old dog you. ;-)

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Old MacDonald

    1: Well, that’s what being religious is all about.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. sh4dow

    Still sounds like a severe lack of integrity on Levine’s part to me. He should’ve just let that guy leave. (see also comments #1 and #4 here)

    #5 1 year ago
  6. LifeCarrier

    I hope he’s really serious about his writing and understanding of the issues needing to be tighter to communicate what he wanted, I’d hate to lose a scene or revelation that would’ve made BioShock Infinite more bold or poignant just because some religious nut job had an issue with it.

    I’d really like to know what it was…

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Samoan Spider

    I’m the last person to jump to the aid of religion, but in the interests of furthering the discussion, we don’t know what was taken out and why. We don’t know why this person felt the way they did, and we don’t know if in retrospect, Levine thought that what was depicted was a step too far. Hence the change.
    However, I hate that there are so many people claiming the moral or religious grounds (not always the same) and that so many people have to shift or change to satisfy them. I agree with #2. Have a disclaimer/option (like CoD) warning that something may offend and then have it in there for those like me who are quite happy to hate everyone equally :)

    #7 1 year ago
  8. hyperbaric

    Just another example why videogames will never be considered art.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. HauntaVirus

    I agree that Ken should have let that artist walk. Interesting write up nonetheless.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Dragon246

    “There was a scene in the game at the end where one of our artists got to a point in the game, played it, turned off BioShock, opened up his computer, opened Microsoft Word, and wrote a resignation letter, it had offended him so much,”
    Very Good. I would just have accepted that and let him leave.
    Religious fanatics should just stay in closets and never come out. Almost all of today’s conflicts are due to “OH MY RELIGION IS HURT” sentiments among morons.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. The_Red

    Wow, so instead of letting a religious fanatic who doesn’t even understand the concept of civil discussion rather that sudden thread / resignation, you caved in to his demands?

    Last time I checked, terrorism was about the same thing. A religious group, threatening to do something (Resignation here) and others having to censor / change things in their favor.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. roadkill

    Wait! So that guy wrote his resignation letter. Why is he still working there then? F**king losers..

    #12 1 year ago
  13. FrayJoker

    @1 That sounds more like hyperbole to me, but I don’t doubt that someone got offended enough to contemplate resigning.

    @11 Terrorism? Really? If you think this bears any similarity to terrorism, your world view is distorted.

    Anyway, I don’t doubt that the artist overreacted here (though certainly if they felt their values were under fire, that is kind of a hostile workplace issue), but it doesn’t sound like Levine overreacted himself. If he truly felt that altering this scene in any way would compromise the impact of the message, letting a staff member go at this end of development would hardly matter.

    What it sounds like is that he doesn’t want to cause undue offense, to convey the themes of the game without need of controversy. I think that sometimes it’s better to not upset people for the sake of upsetting people. I understand why some people my feel that compromises the art of the game, but it’s a fine line between controversy and exploitation. One that certain other series could stand to learn, Call of Duty.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. death_489

    You guys are racists here. You want religion people to respect your believes but you yourself doing what you don’t want others do it to you. You are the sensitive one by offending people and then say they are sensitive..

    please think about it a little bit..

    #14 1 year ago
  15. LuLshuck

    I BET THE JEWS DID THIS

    #15 1 year ago
  16. pukem0n

    nobody uses MS Word anymore!

    sounds made up :P

    #16 1 year ago
  17. ps3fanboy

    and what religion was it???… i bet it was a muslim, its typical them to go crybaby about things like this. like the mw2 pic with the frame writing that was in a toilet.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Dave Cook

    @17 that’s straying too close to what we define as good taste on here mate. Tone it down.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. death_489

    #17
    Read my comment number 14 please and grow up. Anyone who respect his religion would defend it so it’s not wrong if muslims defend there religion

    #19 1 year ago
  20. TheWulf

    @14

    Racist doesn’t mean what you think it means. Not even remotely.

    Racist is to be against race. Now, I know organised religion has some glaring issues with delusions of grandeur — but the last time I checked, being part of an organised religion didn’t actually change your ethnicity. So there’s nothing to be ‘racist’ about by attacking organised religion.

    Or has organised religion taken to painting their servile sheep blue so that they can claim to be a new ethnicity and thus call faux racism whenever their religion is attacked? Did I miss a memo about that?

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Samoan Spider

    @19 I did a quick check for the word Muslim in any website with this information. It only crops up in comments from people like you. So by that token, what have you got in terms of proof that there is any persecution of muslims? There are many religions mate, take a chill pill.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. death_489

    @ 20 TheWul

    Sorry, I used the wrong word. it’s Fanatic. People shouldn’t attack or fight each other for religion. No one should offend anyone. If they want to discusse the reality they should go together and seek for the truth together. religion should be ordering you to respect all kind of people with there thoughts. If you think someone wrong for choosing that religion or anything like that then show him the reason not fight him because you want him to see the truth ..

    That’s what i meant. The talk is a lot for this kind of topic but i think this is how we should treat each other. Just don’t offend another religion because you think he is wrong. He may be better then you in GOD eye so respect them all..

    #22 1 year ago
  23. death_489

    @21Samoan Spider
    My english is limited so i hope i understood you right. Islam never told muslims to attack anyone. Islam want us to be peaceful but in the same time defend our selfs and spread it by love and reason. Give the rights for everyone. No discrimination. All live equally. No one offend any religion. It makes the person understand the reason of living. It gives goals such as knowledge. Hard working. But in the same time worship GOD and thank him for everything from the bad to the good..etc

    So if you see a muslim do something bad it doesn’t represent islam. It’s his faults for not commiting to the religion and if there is a punishment to his acts it must be applied to him. No one is perfect. GOD created all of us so he loves us all. Muslims are in crisis right now because of the rulers that claim they are muslims . so of cours you would take the wrong message. I just wish you people don’t judge us because you see someone bad that claim he is a muslim. bin laden claim he is a muslim but he is not. He use weak people for his benifits in the name of islam ..etc

    Oh. I understand now. I never said the one that quit his job is a muslim. I just told ps3fanboy that muslims have the right to defend what they believe and that is not sensitive. Muslims don’t offend your religions so i think they have the right to do that..

    #23 1 year ago
  24. Phoenixblight

    Ha I would have let him go. Irrational studio wouldn’t be a studio to work for if you are a zealot or really into politics. YOu want a PC game go to Nintendo.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. vOL

    What amazed me more is that most of you guys already assume that the altered plot is somewhat terrible when the game is not even released yet. Have you even play it? Or perhaps know the whole story?

    I just don’t get why people jumped to that conclusion just because it had an altered plot.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. Sadismek

    @25 I think it has something to do with people wanting to know what has been changed in the first place. It definitely made me curious what was the initial ending of the game now.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. vOL

    @26 Yeah it made me curious too but just curious. My point is we don’t even know what the original plot to compare it and likely will not ever know.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. DSB

    Bow down to the flying spaghetti monster you heathen scum.

    #28 1 year ago
  29. fearmonkey

    Bioshock 1 was anti-god, at least from Ryan’s point of view. Ryan would have venom in his voice when he mentioned God or religion. So whatever this was about, it must have been something worse than that.

    Why would Levine even bring it up though? Seems like a mistake or a way to get people talking about the game.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. Samoan Spider

    @23 I will never assume that a person doing something for religious motivation is doing so with the blessing of every person under that religion. But I do believe anyone is capable of anything. Religion is just the tool used my so many through the ages for some really nasty things.

    #30 1 year ago
  31. Espers

    @ 11 I got enough of civil rights OK !!! civil rights are made by humans and therefore they are prone to ERROR and that’s why in each particular case, you notice amendments done to civil laws which they call it “upgrade” …. instead of calling it … ” we fucked up big time ” … while religion has always been there … when you are afraid and when you are in deep trouble … unconsciously first thing… you cry to GOD for help. ” Oh GOD ” <– isn't it

    @ 1 you are the child !! and you should have respect to others religion, you can discuss it, doubt it but you have to respect it !!

    @19 u are right, I am a Muslim and at the time when I see a game make mockery of Christianity .. I also get angry and upset .. both religions are that of GOD … I respect a person decision if he doesn't believe in GOD .. but trying to spread that thought is wrong and it is not a matter of censorship as much as it won't be appealing to the audience … thus the writer fears that game my not be a success !!

    #31 1 year ago
  32. Phoenixblight

    “you are the child !! and you should have respect to others religion, you can discuss it, doubt it but you have to respect it !!”

    No no no that is wrong. No game or piece of media needs to conform to anyone’s ideals because it will offend their religion. There are multiple religions and if you let that dictate your vision you will just come out with a bland game that no one will want to play. This guy should had gone to his higher ups about being offended instead of resigning. If I were Kevin Levine I wouldn’t have changed the ending just because people will get offended especially since his games have always been about pushing buttons.

    Edit: Ah well you are ones of those have to bash your religion into other people and then act like you are the martyr whats that about double standards?

    #32 1 year ago
  33. Gnosis

    @31: “you are the child !! and you should have respect to others religion, you can discuss it, doubt it but you have to respect it !!”
    Err… no. I have to respect your RIGHT to have a religion, to express it and to live by it, which I do. But I don’t have to respect the religion itself. There’s a difference.

    #33 1 year ago
  34. death_489

    @ 30 Samoan Spider
    I wish if you read this ( it’s about religion )
    Sometimes people see the good and bad without having religion. That’s why in my religion GOD mention that there are people outside the religion will go to heaven for there ethics and acts but they are not a lot and they are not evolving and understanding the real reason of life. They just live it. Religion bring something greater. But not everyone can achieve that level in knowledge. We are not perfect in our minds and we have choices that’s why i for one believe religion is important.

    //// This religion bring someone to be a leader or example of how we must live and how the religion works. So this the person we must follow and the people who he choose to be after him not anyone who come and say in the name of the religion should be followed. If you question the people that after him you will know the one who’s worthy of taking the leadership. That’s how i will know who is worthy to lead us in the future or the past. Question every religion and if you see a reasonable one then follow it. But question the real religion and will it work for all times whether for the past or the present or the future . don’t look at the people. Choose the right one. In the end of the world you will see the bad is good and the good will be bad that’s why i’m telling you look at the leaders of the religion or the religion it self. In my opinion we are living the start of this fall. signs proves that things only gonna be worst so choose wisely..

    In my country it’s clear to know the good people and the bad people but when i see my self in your position it’s hard to understand what is going on in middle east.

    This world is too complicated to come from no where or no reason so i hope you have something to believe. Religion makes me don’t regret anything i do unless i did something against it so when i face GOD or dark or what ever faces me after my death i will be ready for it..

    @Espers
    Yep, but you can say it this way to make it more clear. It’s alright to spread your believes but never offend. discusse with reason. That’s the key to solve all these problems. But it’s sad only few know this :(

    #34 1 year ago
  35. GwynbleiddiuM

    Religion, the source of everything that is wrong with this world.

    #35 1 year ago
  36. death_489

    @35
    I wouldn’t say that. Before religions things were worst . History proves it. We call it ignorants age. you guys may call it something else though.

    #36 1 year ago
  37. Clupula

    @36 – What age would this be?

    You’re aware Conan is fiction, right?

    Please do provide me with actual years where there was no religion.

    #37 1 year ago
  38. Clupula

    @35 – Reminds me of the Jello Biafra quote, “Heroin has killed people, but how often has heroin started a war? How often has religion started a war? Can you name a war that wasn’t started by religion?”

    #38 1 year ago
  39. Clupula

    @17 – Never met any of the Evangelicals from the States, have you?

    #39 1 year ago
  40. Rosseu

    @death_489
    “If they want to discusse the reality they should go together and seek for the truth together”

    Religions ARE “truth” and every religion claims their belief is the ultimate truth which is why what you are asking cannot happen. Morality is subjective and most if not all religions want to establish something called objective morals – basically each religion wanting to dictate what the basis of right and wrong is for everyone, and if you go against their teachings, you’re against their deity/god.

    As I said, moral grounds are never the same (subjective) and what offended the artist may not even offend 99% of the people in his religion. Heck, you even said your God recognizes people that do not have a religion but will go to heaven for having morals – which I don’t get why waste time believing in something when it came from your God that it’s ok not to believe in Him. (Not an insult. Just wish people would use their time doing something productive, like actually help out other people?)

    #40 1 year ago
  41. GwynbleiddiuM

    @36 There was always Religion, according to the continued lies that carried over by every religion. Read the Bible, Quran and Torah. And these are just well organized and well established religions. You realize that there are more than 4000 recorded religions, right? They didn’t happen yesterday. It is the nature of man when they rise to power they need to keep it, and what better way to rule over your subjects than somehow convince them that you are chosen by some God or a group of them, giving them promises of afterlife so they could gladly fight your wars and die for your cause, expand your dominion and fill your pockets. And of course the next group who would dare to disagree with you can’t be just your enemies, they have to be the enemy of the Gods. You motivate them to go to war because your God wills it, and blesses your people if you do as the God commands or burn an eternity in hell.

    Religion was not there to civilize men, it was there to enslave them and make them do things that they wouldn’t do otherwise. A wise man once said “Power resides when men believe it resides, it’s a trick.” And what better trick than to put this power upon the shoulders of an almighty invisible being capable of doing absolutely anything if you bend backwards and do what his representatives claim is his will. You cannot question the God because your intelligence is too narrow, too limited to grasp the grand scheme of his design.

    Need more elaborations?

    #41 1 year ago
  42. Clupula

    It all comes down to, to paraphrase Garth Ennis, the first two barely human half-apes, looking at the sun, worshipping it, when one turned to the other and said, “If you give me your half, I’ll make sure the sun gets it.”

    That was the birth of the first religion.

    #42 1 year ago
  43. IL DUCE

    Yeah what a bunch of BS…Levine’s a total vag…”I’m not changing it because it’s offensive but I’m changing it because it’s offensive”

    What a joke

    #43 1 year ago