Political Themes in BioShock Infinite Mirror OWS, Tea Party

October 28, 2011 -

Irrational Games’ creative director Ken Levine spoke to the Washington Post recently about the political themes behind the game and how the two opposing factions in the game share similarities with real-world movements including Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. While there are similarities it should be noted that these groups didn't exist when Levine and company started working on the third BioShock title.

In BioShock Infinite a fight has erupted between two factions: the Founders and the group Vox Populi. Levine claims that the Vox Populi is based loosely on the Baader-Meinhof Group, a left-leaning German student movement that devolved into extremism in the mid-1970s to become the RAF (Red Army Faction).

“I initially based the Vox Populi on this German student movement, the Baader-Meinhof Group. I’ve been looking at how people evolve into extremism: They start in a peaceful, understandable place and end up somewhere very different,” said Levine.

“What’s really interesting, what’s most interesting to me, is how the movements reflect movements that have come before. That’s either reassuring or concerning when you look at what’s going on now. Some of those movements, dating back to the French Revolution, have had similar complaints to what Occupy Wall Street has. It’s interesting to watch how they evolve. They tend to reflect each other, and for the game you can look at what’s happening in real time, but you really see what could be happening in the future by looking at history.”

Levine notes that some of the problems the Occupy Wall Street protesters are facing are similar to the core problems with Vox Populi. The main problem, he says, is messaging:

“I’ve been spending a lot of time watching Occupy Wall Street. The complaint is that they don’t have a consistent message. You can watch that, and this is a challenge I’ve had writing [the Vox Populi]. Leftist movements are always less organized. There’s a messaging machine on the right, where they’ll come up with something and the next day you have 10, 20 people out on the news using those points,” he explained.

“Leftist groups tend not to like authority; nobody in them tends to listen to it. So Occupy Wall Street has been helping me because I’ve been struggling to figure out how the Vox Populi get to the point in the demo. Throughout the game, you’re actually watching them — you see in the beginning of the game that they’re a dead movement and a movement that really fails, and it picks up steam based upon your actions.”

Levine says that he prefers the gray areas between the two ideologies in the game.

“So I start [Vox Populi leader] Daisy Fitzroy and [Founder leader] Comstock on opposite ends of the spectrum. Maybe that’s what the study of these movements is: The movement becomes about the ideology and not about reality. The reality starts to change, and it becomes that people would rather give up reality than ideology.”

“From where I sit, people think it has to be one or the other and there’s no middle ground. Personally, that tends to scare me,” he continued. “What’s the point of having something that’s about people shutting down ideologically, intellectually? People are using these movements to pose questions. If you look at Occupy Wall Street, it’s opened up dialogue, and you can say the same about the tea party. Hopefully, they don’t become extensions of parties, they will open up the conversation.”

Source: IndustryGamers


Comments

Re: Political Themes in BioShock Infinite Mirror OWS, Tea Party

Founders > Vox Populi. Definitely.

 
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Andrew EisenI'm still trying to figure out where anyone is getting the idea violent content or lousy representation of women and minorities shouldn't exist or be promoted.06/30/2015 - 9:25am
james_fudgeWell, members of GP first, members of GG second, I always say.06/30/2015 - 9:06am
black mantaConsidering it's only you and Mattsworkname that have been carrying the banner for it here, that pretty much testifies to how little influence they have. Most everyone else here couldn't care less.06/30/2015 - 8:54am
black mantaAgain GG is more like Occupy Wall Street than the Tea Party movement. They had their moment, but they fizzled out. And now exist more as a nebulous thing spouting ideas. They haven't achieved anything meaningful.06/30/2015 - 8:52am
black mantaAs sincere as your beliefs may be, the movement is still rife with bigots and misogynists.06/30/2015 - 8:51am
black mantaI'm sure you're heart's in the right place, Goth. But it doesn't excuse the behavior of GG's members towards the people they don't like.06/30/2015 - 8:50am
MattsworknameWow goth, write a novel why dont cha. Seriously I know you have a passion for this stuff, but wow, thats kinda overkill.06/30/2015 - 8:46am
james_fudgeI hereby dub this space the Mainifesto Box (tm)06/30/2015 - 8:34am
Infophile13 shouts in total by Goth in a row. I think I'm to blame here. If I'd read the Breitbart link when he'd posted it, maybe he wouldn't have felt the need to say everything here.06/30/2015 - 8:27am
E. Zachary KnightI go away for one night and Goth writes his Gamergate manifesto in the shoutbox.06/30/2015 - 8:15am
james_fudgeI blame Andrew for this.06/30/2015 - 8:10am
Goth_SkunkAnd at long last, I think I'm finally done.06/30/2015 - 3:08am
Goth_SkunkAnd if those progressive games fail to make any headway in the market, don't blame gamer culture for not being cultured enough to appreciate the product. Own up to the fact that the game either sucks, is not interesting, or both.06/30/2015 - 3:06am
Goth_Skunknor suggest that the games industry and culture is rife with toxicity because of it and needs to change for the good of the medium. There is room in the market for progressive games to co-exist with games like Hatred, not replace them outright.06/30/2015 - 3:04am
Goth_SkunkAnd if the overly violent content of most AAA games or the perceived mistreatment of women in such games bothers one, by all means criticize it, but do not under any circumstances suggest that it such content shouldn't exist or be promoted,06/30/2015 - 3:02am
Goth_SkunkGames, for the most part, let you do this! You can be the man or woman you're not. You can escape reality and immerse yourself in the experience. And that's wonderful! I play as female characters all the time in games I play, when the option is available.06/30/2015 - 2:59am
Goth_SkunkA choice that nature denied transgender people at birth! People don't undergo gender reassignment because they want to be transgender; they undergo gender reassignment because they want to be the gender they identify with!06/30/2015 - 2:52am
Goth_SkunkBut I think it gets silly when people start asking for the ability to play as a transgender protagonist. I mean, why would one do that? One usually has the option to create a character that's either a man or a woman, gay or straight. You have the choice!06/30/2015 - 2:50am
Goth_Skunkfirst two games, a move which was ultimately corrected in the 3rd game. By extension, Dragon Age has always had the option, and good on it!06/30/2015 - 2:45am
Goth_SkunkBut it certainly is good to see developers entertain the allowance of allowing the player to develop their protagonist to be homosexual if they want. The Mass Effect series was criticized rightly for not allowing a male homosexual romance plot in the06/30/2015 - 2:44am
 

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