BioShock Infinite dev discusses ‘difficult challenge’ of box-art creation, reflects on backlash

By Dave Cook
30 January 2013 13:53 GMT

BioShock Infinite’s box-art was a cause of backlash among some gamers when it was officially unveiled by Irrational Games. Studio founder Ken Levine even stated that it was made with ‘fratboys’ in mind. The game’s level designer Shawn Elliott has recently discussed the difficult challenge of creating a cover that sums up a whole game.

Speaking with OXM, Elliot was asked about the debate that sparked around the game’s final cover, and replied, “I’m not going to duck that, but it’s overseeing marketing and stuff – I just make the stuff, I don’t sell it, you know? So, I really am not involved in any of that, but I can imagine that it’s a very difficult challenge to take and create a single image that says everything that needs to be said in the game.

“I mean, God – imagine, you know, writing a book and trying to make the same kind of statement with a book cover, a movie poster or anything. Stanley Kubrick is one of my favourite directors and his movie posters are always phenomenal, but they don’t ever really tell me anything at all about the contents of the movie, so I imagine it’s a challenge.

“We have several principal characters: Elizabeth, Songbird, the city itself is the biggest character – that’s Bioshock, you know, the city as the character, that’s the essential DNA that threads all Bioshock games together going forward. So, how do you sell that? Then there’s the skyhook and skylines, which are also essential, there’s Liz opening tears, and you can imagine quickly that gets confusing.

“Box art in the 80s, for early games they tried literally to put everything on there – so you’d have game box art where there’s a dinosaur on one side, there’s a spaceship on the other, and you really don’t understand what the hell is happening.”

But was Elliot or the team frustrated by the reaction? “No. I wasn’t frustrated at all,” he stated, “because the interesting thing is that the game so far has largely been discussed by enthusiasts – those people got to see our very first stab at the game at reveal, they got to see the E3 trailer, they got to see pretty much everything – any time we put media out about the game, every screenshot or whatever they have been aware of it.

“So I don’t really have to worry that they’re getting the wrong impression, because they’ve picked up on every impression that we’ve made.”

What’s your opinion on the whole cover saga that unfolded? Was it needless, do first impressions really count, or should it always be the game inside that matter? Let us know below.

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