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BioShock Infinite And The Future Of Gaming

“BioShock Infinite”. The latest, biggest, brainiest video game of all. We’ll talk to the creator and ask where games are going?

Screenshot from BioShock Infinite

Screenshot from BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games)

The marketing is everywhere now for the huge new would-be blockbuster video game “BioShock Infinite”.  We shouldn’t be surprised.  Blockbuster movies arrive with a lot of noise, and these days video games are in the same league.  Of entertainment, engagement, some would say art.

The latest BioShock is deeply immersive.  You’re back in 1912, but it’s an alternate history.  A floating city.  Utopian.  Dystopian.  A wild theocracy.  Time travel.  Big ideas.  And yes, lots of shooting.

This hour, On Point:  we talk with Ken Levine, creative director of BioShock Infinite.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ken Levine, creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games. Their new game is “BioShock Infinite.” (@iglevine)

Scott Steinberg, video game analyst, innovation consultant and speaker, CEO of TechSavvy Global. (@akeynotespeaker)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “BioShock Infinite is packed with cultural references both high and low. Mr. Levine’s research included the book’The Devil in the White City’ by Erik Larson; the Occupy Wall Street movement; a short, silent film of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake; Hitchcock; the Beach Boys; Freud; Disneyland; and on and on. What he has created with these disparate elements could be called a literary endeavor for a multimedia age.”

Kotaku “You haven’t been to a place like this before. The fictional floating city where Infinite is set is all clockwork platforms and brass gears, its many sections populated with hucksters, strivers, lovers and schoolchildren. One minute, you’re walking past a sheer drop, the next a park swings down into the open space. Sure, they seceded from the Union but it’s such a bloom-lit paradise that you almost can’t blame them.”

The Los Angeles Times “Unforgettably disturbing images populate ‘BioShock Infinite,’ the most anticipated first-person shooter game of 2013. In the game, set largely in 1912, an interracial couple is nearly stoned by an angry white mob, a Chinese man is killed simply for being Asian, and Irish and blacks are relegated to separate bathrooms. Out for a week, the third installment in a series from famed game designer Ken Levine has already been decreed a masterwork, and on the surface it’s easy to see why. Its mechanics are nearly flawless, and the narrative promises to realistically grapple with issues of racism, religious persecution and inequality. As with its two predecessors, it seems entirely possible that this installment is evidence that games can be thought-provoking.”

Video

YouTube user dansg08 edited his play-through of BioShock Infinite into a three-and-a-half-hour movie.

Photo: Ken Levine in the On Point studio

Ken Levine in the On Point studio (photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR)

Ken Levine in the On Point studio (photo by Jesse Costa, WBUR)

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