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How Occupy Wall Street Is Influencing  Bioshock Infinite
How Occupy Wall Street Is Influencing Bioshock Infinite
October 27, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

October 27, 2011 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Design

Irrational Games' Ken Levine recently spoke out on writing the upcoming BioShock Infinite, noting that the Occupy Wall Street movement has helped him solidify the game's revolutionist narrative and themes.

While he started working on the game long before the nationwide U.S. protests took shape, Levine notes in an interview with the Washington Post that the movement in many ways resembles some of the historical events that inspired BioShock Infinite.

"Whatís really interesting, whatís most interesting to me, is how the movements reflect movements that have come before," he said. "Thatís either reassuring or concerning when you look at whatís going on now. Some of those movements, dating back to the French Revolution, have had similar complaints to what Occupy Wall Street has."

Levine says that he has kept a close eye on the Occupy Wall Street, noting that the protestors' struggles have helped him flesh out the motivations for the fictional Vox Populi, a faction within BioShock Infinite.

"Iíve been spending a lot of time watching Occupy Wall Street. The complaint is that they donít have a consistent message. Itís been interesting to reflect upon the movementís message, watching it crystallize."

"Occupy Wall Street has been helping me because Iíve been struggling to figure out how the Vox Populi get to the point in the demo," he says, referring to an E3 presentation in which a violent conflict erupts between two of the game's opposing groups.

He adds, "I hope the real-life movements donít head to the same place [as the game], though. Iím not going anywhere nice, Iíll tell you that much."

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Christopher Lee
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Just goes to show how much game designers can be influenced by everything around them - and can come from any field. Way to go, Ken.

Joshua Dallman
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Irrational Games, owned by Take-Two Interactive, traded as NASDAQ: TTWO. If the game sells well, those trading the company on Wall Street will be richer, if it bombs, there will be layoffs. Spreading the message or co-opting it for corporate profit? Not judging or taking a position, just observing the all-too-easy irony.

Adam Bishop
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The contract with Take Two was likely signed a long time ago. The OWS movement is relatively recent. So let's say Ken finds what's happenning interesting and thinks it's relevant to his game. What's he supposed to do, quit the company, risking the jobs of everyone he works with, so that he can go and create an indie game with the same themes?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Yeah, I appreciate the irony too, now that you point it out. All I can say is that I trust Irrational Games as sincere developers and have found Take-Two to be, well, less devious than other publishers in the industry.

OWS and the inequality that spawned it are important narratives that will hopefully balance the happiness and wealth that has been developed by the many then hoarded by the few, and it makes me happy the more I see that narrative in the news and in our entertainment.

Cheng Ling
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Except OWS wasn't spawned by 'inequality', nor was there happiness and wealth 'developed by the many and hoarded by the few'.

OWS is a bunch of entitlement-obsessed people demanding free stuff, mixed with some professional protesters, socialists/communists, and anarchists. They don't have a 'message', or even a basic understanding of the system they're supposedly protesting (they are completely ignorant of the fact that the most regulated part of our economy was the part that failed).

The mythologizing of it would be hysterical were it not indicative of a very serious problem with our country. The media is actively helping to push a false narrative about them to further a political agenda. But anyone can go to YouTube and watch hundreds of videos that tell you what's really going on.

Robert Horvat
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Cheng, it's time for you to turn off the FOX ďNewsĒ and co.

Ian Uniacke
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I'm not sure you quite understand the OWS movement. These people aren't saying no one should make any money. They're protesting against the institution that is Wall Street. And your argument (if that's what it is) is just a more complicated version of the argument that protestors in OWS shouldn't use money (which is kind of silly). I can see the irony though of course.

Ian Uniacke
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Alternatively, maybe I'm not understanding your position. :)

John McMahon
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Come on folks, this is about the games industry not whether a movement is justified or not.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"Except OWS wasn't spawned by 'inequality', nor was there happiness and wealth 'developed by the many and hoarded by the few'. "

But... these claims are just... wrong. I don't know what to say; if I repeat myself, we are going around in circles, and these are not opinions we can just "agree to disagree on"; these are facts. OWS was spawned by inequality. Happiness and wealth are developed by the many (workers) and hoarded by the few (the rich). There is just no rational way you can deny this.


The E word again. Argh! The most entitled, self-righteous people in this world are the ones that feel entitled to profit off of simply having money buttressed by the work of those they see as inferior, justifying it with a lop-sided economic theory (whether it is lop-sided innately or merely from our failed attempt at constructing it is an interesting debate, but when companies lay off their work force while inflating CEO bonuses you can't deny it is lop-sided). The "entitled" working class that you complain about doesn't want anything for free; it wants fair wages and fair competition, a _chance_ to _earn_ by _working_ and to have their voices heard by congress even when they aren't rich. What they have is a tanking economy, a lack of jobs, and a shrinking middle class.

I have been following OWS before the "media" felt it was worth covering, and I have been following the atrocious economic mindset that lead to its birth for even longer. The only false narratives I've seen regarding the movement have been from those against it, cherry-picking the less prepared individuals they can find and interviewing them, focusing on happenstances of the movement itself (public cleanliness issues, which I agree are embarrassing but far less important than balancing our world) instead of focusing on the message. And yes, there is a message: that many, if not most, of the rich claimed "their" wealth through unethical, exploitative means off of the _actual_ _work_ of the labor class, that these behaviors have gone unchecked and unpunished, and that if the government is not ready to put them in their place then we are.

Doug Poston
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@Jeffrey: But that's the great thing about having media that isn't bound by silly things like "facts". They cover "all sides" of the story, even if they have to make stuff up.

Then you can decide what "truth" feels the best to you.

Christopher Enderle
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It's always nice to think that you can simply utilize the wealth of history that exists for inspirations and guidance on things like this, but I guess there's no substitute for events happening in the present, no matter how much of a repeat of the past they are.

Jan Kubiczek
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i think i read it at least three times: "watching occupy wall street really influenced me".