After introducing gamers to one of the most talked-about games in a console generation — BioShock — Ken Levine became something of a big deal in the game industry. By infusing his games with socio-political overtones, sympathetic characters, and ambitious art direction, the Irrational Games president and creative director earned a reputation for creating smart games for smart people, influencing a generation of video game developers in the process. And now, the Boston-based developer is deep into development on BioShock Infinite, a game that has already earned widespread attention for its focus on weighty themes such as xenophobia, American Exceptionalism, and civil unrest.
I know Ken pretty well, as far as these things go, but I’ve always wanted to learn more about his background: where he came from, what it was like for him growing up, and how he came to be an unabashed lover of geek culture (which manifested itself in a spirited defense of geeks in the pages of Game Informer magazine). I recently caught up with the man to delve further into these topics and, hopefully, catch a glimpse of what makes him tick.
BioShock is one of the most surprising games of this generation. First of all, it isn’t inspired by a real-life conflict, a film or another game series, but a moderately successful novel called Atlus Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which put forward a philosophy called Objectivism, or ‘rational selfishness’.
BioShock’s writer and Creative Director, Ken Levine, and his team are now working on BioShock Infinite, a departure from the dark, dystopian corridors of Rapture into the bright skies of Columbia, a floating city named after the female personification of the United States of America. I recently had the chance to sit down with Ken to talk about the philosophies that underpinned the original BioShock and how, if at all, these are being applied to BioShock Infinite.
It’s always a pleasure to speak with Ken Levine, creative director for the award-winnging BioShock and the PS3 dystopian epic BioShock Infinite. Ken’s been good enough to drop by the PlayStation.Blog before, bringing news of PlayStation Move support as well as an upcoming PS Vita BioShock game, but we’ve never been able to immortalize him in crisp HD video.
Until now. In Rey’s lovingly produced video feature, Levine lays out his plan for Infinite domination, starting with creating a convincing relationship between lead characters Booker and Elizabeth as they seek to escape the crumbling city of Columbia.
Okay, we’ve teased you for long enough. We showed you a teaser on PlayStation’s E3 stage. We leaked out dribs and drabs of content over the past few weeks. Yeah, we’re S.O.Bs. But we’re S.O.Bs with an expiration date! And today’s that date.
Here it is, a video of the full demonstration that we showed to the press at E3, all fifteen minutes of it. We’d love to know what you think at our forums at www.irrationalgames.com.
Let me dish out some home truths here. The BioShock universe hasn’t always treated the PlayStation community super well. The first game came out on PS3 over a year after launch on other platforms. To Sony fans, that probably read as, “Hey, what are we? Chopped liver?”
Irrational Games came to the press conference to say Sony fans are not chopped liver. How’s them for bold words? They’re fans who have embraced innovation. Who champion cool, weird stuff like Flower and LittleBigPlanet. Who seek out content from all over the globe.
But I’m also here to back our commitment up with action. Like Move integration. Like a new game set in the BioShock universe on PS Vita. Like a free copy of BioShock 1 with each copy of BioShock Infinite on PS3 to ensure that everyone in the PlayStation world gets a chance to see how the whole BioShock magilla began.
You’ve seen the debut trailer for BioShock Infinite. You’ve read Creative Director Ken Levine’s thoughts on expanding the award-winning formula of BioShock from the murky depths of Rapture to the soaring heights of Columbia. You’ve even bookmarked the 10 Things You Should Know About BioShock Infinite article on IrrationalGames.com. What’s left? Watching 10 uninterrupted minutes […]
Last week, Irrational Games introduced BioShock Infinite to the world with a startling cinematic trailer set in the clouds far above Earth. Since then, I’ve seen BioShock Infinite in action, and the first-person gameplay featured numerous hallmarks of BioShock as well as intriguing new elements. In the gameplay scenario I saw, protagonist Booker DeWitt explored […]
Before you do anything else, watch the premiere video of the next game from Irrational Games that will land on the PlayStation 3 in 2012. The less you know before watching, the better! We’re pleased and excited to welcome Irrational Games to the PlayStation.Blog to reveal their latest project to PS3 fans. I was fortunate […]