Bioshock - Ken Levine Interview @ Evil Avatar
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December 5th, 2006, 22:11
Allegory for capitalism? Bloody hell. Can something be allegorical when it simply shows the antithesis of the thing it's supposedly an allegory of?
Surely thievery isn't allegorical to capitalism, it's one of the main things opposed to it. If you violate laws regarding personal property then you're pretty much violating and/or denouncing capitalism. That's not allegorical, it's obvious, in plain sight.
Odd shoe-horning of meaning aside, I'm not sure I like the direction Levine seems to want to take.
I understand he needs his games to sell as much as possible, that's how business works, but all this talk of simplification and hand-holding worries me. Some things are irreducibly "complicated" or "difficult". That's the nature of challenge and depth, and of learning.
If you over-simplify or babysit too much then the thing you originally wanted to convey or create becomes something else. The sense of learning and accomplishment is reduced or trivialised. Some things can't, and shouldn't be given on a plate.
He seems to be in a general state of contradiction anyway. On the one hand he wants his product to sell well (who doesn't?), so he's aiming to make the game mechanics easy to grasp for everyone. On the other hand, he sees Bioshock challenging us with social commentary on the nature of man and the "hero", politics, power etc. If you can't grasp game mechanics that could today be considered, I don't know, "intermediate" difficulty to learn and understand, why would you want to/be capable of engage/ing with a story that operates on a number of levels? He seems to believe the market can grasp deep political satire/commentary, but can't grasp "choose your skills, they dictate your character type and the way you can approach challenges", or whatever.
I mean, the person who can play the game and go "Ahhh, I see the actions of this character are clearly derived from Machiavelli's work 'The Prince'. And look here, the foyer scene is clearly an homage to Bosch's seminal 'Hell'." is unlikely to be phased by the challenge of PC skill development or fork-roads in the plot.
In contrast, the player who sees the above and just thinks "that guy's selfish…this place is weird" isn't served by Levine's ideas on narrative and subtext. It just comes off to me as him wanting to present iconoclasts and idealogues, morals and all that challenging stuff; wrapped in a game that he wants to make simple so it'll appeal to everyone. Which could compromise the whole thing, as the gameplay might not appeal to those who can grasp these narrative themes, and the narrative themes don't appeal to those to whom the gameplay appeals.
Of course I could just be reading too much into a fun little interview, and be completely wrong on all my thoughts
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: United Kingdom, London
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