Stephen Speicher

... when it inspires a video game!

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From MTV.com

Game designer Ken Levine is making "BioShock," the next big shooter for the Xbox 360. But he wouldn't make the last big one, "Gears of War."

"It doesn't come out of me to make guys in big suits of armor like that and talking tough like that. It's just not my thing," he said in a recent interview with MTV News. "But hey, it would make my life easier if I could."

"BioShock" — which has steadily built hype since last year's E3 and is veering toward a June release on 360 and PC — will cast its players in Rapture, a creepy, art-deco-style undersea city that is slowly flooding. The game will also pit players against foes like the lumbering Big Daddies, grunting men in bulky diving suits who collect bodily fluids from corpses. He hopes "BioShock" will change what people expect from every first-person shooter that follows it. He promises a game that mixes heaps of bullets, guns and blood with dashes of philosophy, economics and architecture.

[...]

Levine describes himself as "half total freaking computer video game nerd and half pretentious, boring, Vassar-educated twit." He's read up on Ayn Rand and studied art history. Certainly that can fit into a video game. "You could take a bunch of liberal-arts courses and find 'The Matrix' all throughout it. What they did is they basically said, 'Let's take a tiny bit of this and sprinkle it on top of our action movie. Because it makes our action movie seem cooler.' That's what 'BioShock' is. The architecture ... [and] the Ayn Rand philosophy and the economic theory sprinkled on top. My challenge as a writer is to make this a nice flavor, but never forget this is a first-person shooter. Never."

Okay, "grunting men in bulky diving suits who collect bodily fluids from corpses" is not too inspiring, but at least these are the bad guys! ;)

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From MTV.com

Okay, "grunting men in bulky diving suits who collect bodily fluids from corpses" is not too inspiring, but at least these are the bad guys! ;)

At the end of the article, the designer starts talking about the threat of taking philosophy too seriously, and how the city that is now drowning was originally designed to maximize freedom, then choked on too much of it!

Sounds like this game was inspired by a critique of Objectivism rather than Objectivism itself.

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You may be right. It was a bad choice. Apologies.

Well, perhaps a silver lining is that Ayn Rand is being identified as synonomous with capitalism and freedom.

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Having played and enjoyed the game, I can tell you that it is not necessarily critical of Objectivism, it is merely Dystopian. The underlying "warning" of the game seems to be that power corrupts.

Then again, I am by no means an expert on the subject, so I could be wrong.

Still, the game led me to re-read Atlas Shrugged and as a result I have a newfound respect and admiration for Ms. Rand and her ideas. So I think it can only be a good thing if the game is inspiring people like me to go out and learn.

You may be right. It was a bad choice. Apologies.

Well, perhaps a silver lining is that Ayn Rand is being identified as synonomous with capitalism and freedom.

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Having played and enjoyed the game, I can tell you that it is not necessarily critical of Objectivism, it is merely Dystopian. The underlying "warning" of the game seems to be that power corrupts.

Then again, I am by no means an expert on the subject, so I could be wrong.

Still, the game led me to re-read Atlas Shrugged and as a result I have a newfound respect and admiration for Ms. Rand and her ideas. So I think it can only be a good thing if the game is inspiring people like me to go out and learn.

I'm glad to hear that Bioshock inspired you to re-read Atlas.

I played the game and am very down on it (there are other threads here on the subject). Perhaps the net result of the game will be positive, but that still doesn't excuse Levine's script. It would be perfectly possible to make a truly inspiring adaptation of Atlas Shrugged's world into a game but that would 1) be 1000x harder to do than the typical first-person shooter, 2) completely different than Bioshock, because creators/innovators/inventors/rational people generally would be the heroes and not the villains. Levine took a work of genius that he couldn't have created if he lived for a million years, and purposely mangled it into a bloody mess; as somebody who finds the book and the philosophy to be the pinnacle of human philosophic knowledge, and beautiful literary art, to date, I consider that unforgivable.

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[...] It would be perfectly possible to make a truly inspiring adaptation of Atlas Shrugged's world into a game but that would 1) be 1000x harder to do than the typical first-person shooter, 2) completely different than Bioshock, because creators/innovators/inventors/rational people generally would be the heroes and not the villains.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it.... :D

And I can't wait for the action figures!

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it.... :D

I've actually given such a game some thought over the years. To do it right would be a huge undertaking, partly since the graphics now commercially expected are very expensive. Budgets for big games are now in the millions. Unfortunately, first-person-shooters still dominate the landscape, and the game I have in mind would have little of that. It could still succeed - there are highly successful games such as Myst which had no shooting at all. Overall though I don't have a clear and detailed enough picture of how it would work to move towards making it, especially since I know how hard (basically impossible) it would be to directly use Atlas as the basis for it, given intellectual property issues, so it would amount to writing a conceptually similar story with different concretes - tough assignment. Levine basically did that, but through a horrifyingly inverted filter.

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