I finished Bioshock Infinite last weekend and have been thinking about it since. The game is incredibly well put together; the world and the story are both impressive. Just like the first Bioshock, Infinite shows what’s possible in narrative when it comes to the current world of games.
Obviously this post is filled with spoilers, so continue only if you’ve already played the game.
I’ve chatted about the game with many many people and everyone has been impressed by it, yet, I have this curiosity around design decisions and the story which I can’t sedate. So I’ve scoured the internet and here are my findings below. Most of the interviews and such are centered around Ken Levine, who was the creative director on Bioshock Infinite, but please don’t forget there are teams of people who all helped make the game too.
On developing the game:
BioShock Infinite – The Revolutionary AI Behind Elizabeth
Development principals, delays, and environments are covered in this interview:
Here’s an interview that address many themes around the game and the game industry itself. I particularly enjoyed the discussions around religion and indie vs. AAA games.
For more on his views on the gaming industry and such check out this interview with PC Gamer, which also touches on why Infinite is appealing.
Reddit user TheCynicalGamer wondered what changed between 2011-13 from the first demo to the delivered game.
Crafting the gameworld and story:
Grantland has a great interview with Ken Levine where he talks about plot and immersion:
Put the player in an interesting world and make him feel like there’s interesting things around the corner. That’s way more important than specific details about what’s going on. … But people need a sense of what’s going on, and it’s our job as writers to make sure they have enough of a sense so it doesn’t become a barrier. Just put them in a world with as much visual information as you can, without overwhelming them, and let them bathe in it.
About the ending:
This article on Escapist is basically how I also understand the ending.
This video does a really good job of providing an explanation of the ending too:
The Mary Sue has a great review of the game and what it says about the state of politics in America today:
I found myself in a Masonic-style fraternal house belonging to the Order of the Raven, a society that mirrors the KKK (the dining hall features a painting of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, complete with a haloed John Wilkes Booth). I picked up an audio recording made by Father Comstock, Columbia’s leader and prophet. “What exactly was the Great Emancipator emancipating the Negro from?” he says. “From his daily bread. From the nobility of honest work. From wealthy patrons who sponsored them from cradle to grave. From clothing and shelter.” As I listened, my stomach sank. I recognized that appalling argument, but not from fiction, and not from a history book. Similar words were spoken just three weeks ago by an attendee at a CPAC panel on minority outreach. We need to be talking about racism in America. Now. Today.
And of course, there’s always Zero Punctuation’s take on the game.
Reddit user Pyroklastic created a timeline of events in Infinite.
Sexy Vioegameland’s analysis is a good read particularly the comparison to the original Bioshock. I also quite enjoy her take on the meaning of the game itself:
Clearly, but to what end? When does a supposed essay on the purposelessness of conflict simply become purposeless? Racism, corpses, endless slaughter — all the things that are supposed to remind me of how horrible Columbia is only makes me think of how horrible games are. There are more dead bodies in this world than live people, and ever moreso as the game progresses. Their deaths don’t matter. This is a dead world.
There’s a fan blog dedicated to mysteries about the game.
Lastly, here’s a hilarious compilation of people reacting to a Boy Of Silence.
Thanks to Ghost of a Flea, Manaf, and Sam for providing some of the links above. Plus all the good folks at Reddit.
I wonder what this game will feel like in a few years. The original Bioshock seems to feel ‘old’ and no longer novel to players who are playing it for the first time.