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Levine On Bioshock Infinite Story: "I'm Not Afraid Of Any Topic"

As fans of the franchise well know, the storyline and atmosphere of the Bioshock games are of the utmost importance. Which is great.

And Irrational Games boss Ken Levine is only interested in generating the best possible plot and set of characters possible. If that involves potentially controversial subject matter, then so be it.

In a recent Joystiq interview, Levine, who is the president, creative director and lead writer of the game in question, said he's not about to run from the controversial stuff:

"For my own personal tastes, I'm not afraid of any topic or I wouldn't walk away from any topic because it was controversial. And I wouldn't run towards any topic because it was controversial. There's a story I want to tell.

Originally, the conflict in [BioShock Infinite] was one between technologists and luddites, and it just wasn't very interesting for us. The story didn't go anywhere, because there wasn't a lot of historical precedence for it and it didn't really resonate. And it evolved, and it kept evolving many, many times. But it's all about how you do it, not what you do."

Being an amateur writer myself, I have to agree with this. Nothing bugs me more than people who either purposely avoid or purposely include controversial topics for the sake of attention. The story is paramount. If the story requires something that might offend people, too bad. If it doesn't, don't put it in just to make a social point. This is art, not a political platform. And even if you wish your art to make a political statement, the quality of the art should still be the primary, manifest intent. This, I strongly believe.

Related Game(s): Bioshock Infinite

Tags: bioshock infinite, irrational games, ken levine, bioshock sequel

12/11/2012 9:54:44 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (7 posts)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 @ 10:29:38 PM

Any and all topics that enrich the story are welcome and it doesn't matter if there are women being hit, animals dying, dead children, etc. Those things unfortunately happen but if it contributes in some way with the story or he atmosphere, then so be it.

Look at Dead Island's rewinding teaser video and the zombie girl and you'll see what I mean. IF that scenario were to happen, there would surely be zombie children and animals and unless somehow there is a way to reverse the state they regrettably must die.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012 @ 11:21:14 PM

I think it's okay they are handling the Tea Party versus the 99%. It just sort of came about that way.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 2:17:57 AM

There are so few games out there that actively seek to tell a formidable story, and Bioshock Infinite is guaranteed to be one of them. To hear that it will be based purely on the vision of Levine, without catering to whatever will sell is great.

This is why Tomb Raider can't be taken nearly as seriously as Infinite: the developers were forced to recant and defend their mention of rape; Levine just says that if it's there, it's there for a reason - The way it should be.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 4:57:34 AM

depends on what controversy your talking about.
i have to point to the recent MoH debacle with EA allowing players to play as the infamous terrorists.
or the multitude of games recently edited because there were specific religious relations found in games.
so do whatever you want as long as its sensitive and respectful to the group your portraying.
but there is a line that has to be drawn.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 11:20:40 PM

I for one find extremist political correctness, policing, and the prejudice against any and all manner of controversy to be, in and of itself, equally, if not MORE offensive than any individual controversial element. Games get judged unfairly. We can have TV shows, movies, books, sculpture, paintings, music, stand up comedy, and all other manner of art, media, culture, and entertainment that gets away with things that gaming does not.

This needs to change.

If I see a game set in the 1910s, then I would expect that game to depict the lifestyle of 1910s. There are MANY things from that time period that we consider controversial or offensive. Child labor, women's rights and minority civil rights, arranged marriage, marriage age, and age of consent, and so on. We even find many aspects of the theater of that time offensive. Things like black face and horrible stereotypes are still a big deal. Still, if we white wash over history, then we threaten ourselves with forgetting why things are no longer acceptable.

It IS acceptable to depict the worst of the past in modern art, for what it was back then, as long as we understand that it IS something we should want kept out of modern times. Using something considered very offensive, as an example, I would think it would be rather offensive to perform in black face in a modern production, but a depiction of the past that shows blackface in a setting where it once was considered a norm... That would not offend me at all. It's not the depiction, but the INTENT that can be offensive or not. I'm not gonna be offended if a documentary on 1920s theater features vintage clips from old film reels depicting blackface, or a modern movie depicting life in the 40s, featurs modern actors performing roles in blackface, or for that matter, even a live play... None of these would offend me by simple means of depiction. If they were done IN an offensive manner, by means of the DEPICTION itself being offensive then yes, I'd find it offensive... But I also would not care, and would simply not watch it. I wouldn't explode in rage and demand it be banned. I have better tolerance than that... That and better things to do with my life.

I remember the Little Big Planet delay. There was some song with some manner of Arabic lyrics, or something like that. I was MORE offended by the fact that they made a big fuss over it than anything else. I would not have been bothered by the song, or it's content. I find it offensive that the ACT of censorship itself becomes the controversy.

I don't know...

I just find the whole world shriveling up into some pathetic ball of amorphous, whiny, fearful, conformists... Afraid of anything that might offend their precious little eyes and ears, and oh so willing to jump out at anything that MIGHT even remotely offend anyone else. They want everyone to be the SAME and not see any differences. They want to filter out what makes each of us and each of our cultures and histories unique, till all that remains is one happy, loving, bland brainwashed family of humanity.

I shake my head at what we've become. It makes me sad.

I say the world needs to grow a pair. I'm not afraid that I am unique, and you are unique. We are each different and similar in ways that let us find a place in the world where we fit. I'm not afraid if there is a little controversy. If anything, it makes life interesting! :)

At the same time, I'm proud to say that this developer is doing the right thing. I look forward to Bioshock Infinite, and I can't wait to see the story unfold before me.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 8:28:42 AM

Hence why Levine's in the good books.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 1:54:05 PM

I agreed with Levine!
Screw PC(and I don't mean "Personal Computer" either), people should stop pussyfooting around the issues & say what they mean mean & do what they say.

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