The lights are on
BioShock Infinite protagonist Booker DeWitt’s job sounds relatively straightforward – arrive in the airborne city of Columbia, find a woman named Elizabeth, and extricate her from captivity. The reality of the scenario couldn’t be more complicated. Since its disappearance into the clouds, the city has fallen into a bitter civil war over clashing ideologies and differing interpretations of the American Dream. While one faction clings to a concept of American exceptionalism tied closely to religious and Aryan values, another violently champions the inclusion of all races and religions, and will go to great lengths to unseat the powers that be.
In the middle stands Elizabeth. A notion of prophecy regarding this unusual young lady swirls throughout Columbia. Both groups want to exercise control over her – one wants to keep her imprisoned and the other hopes to unleash her extraordinary powers as a method of furthering their cause. To shed more light on these two factions, we asked Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine what makes these rabble rousers tick.
THE POWERS THAT BEAfter Columbia’s mysterious disappearance into the skies, the ruling class precariously clings to power in the face of a violent uprising. Their predominant rallying cry? Either you’re with us or against us. While conceptualizing the motivations for this antagonistic incumbent group, Irrational drew much of its inspiration from the ultranationalist movements that have appeared on the international scene and in America over the years. “Through the history of almost all countries you see periods of national identity being more or less important as time goes on,” Levine says. “You see a buildup of a nativist or nationalist movement, and often there’s an event that comes out of that – whether it’s a war or whatever – which either enhances that or pushes it back.”For Columbia, the event in question is an international incident that sullies America's reputation and divorces Columbia from the motherland. Once thought to be a shining beacon of American industry and ingenuity, Columbia had a deceptive ulterior motive – it was also a fully functioning warship. When this is revealed to the world in a catastrophic event, the United States severs ties with the floating city, triggering a civil war within Columbia as splinter factions fight for the soul of the fleet. For the powers that be, their primary interest is in preserving the status quo. During the BioShock Infinite gameplay demo, we got a glimpse into the thought process of this faction through the agitated ramblings of a politician named Saltonstall. Standing in a gazebo filled with barrels of rifles in front of an audience of empty seats, the frantic orator pontificated to anyone within earshot: “Only by the blessed powers of our Constitution and our savior can we set it right,” he said. “And if our guns thunder, then I say let them thunder. The needs of our great city of Columbia must come before the desires of any foreigner, whether they be enemy or friend. For I have looked into the future and one path is filled with amity and gold, and the other is fraught with the perils of a hostile and alien world.”Saltonstall’s message is an inflammatory cocktail of xenophobia, religiosity, antagonism, and selective reading of the U.S. Constitution. Take Saltonstall out of the gazebo and place him on the set of a contemporary 24-hour news network and his tirade would hardly be out of place. His position eerily echoes some of the race-baiting positions taken by far right personalities like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rand Paul during the virulent debates over the current direction of our country. That’s hardly a coincidence. “There’s definitely a component in America today that nationalism is extremely important to certain people – a sense that America is a separate case,” Levine says. “It’s something I’ve always found fascinating. It’s an interesting element to divide over – where you’re born. It’s kind of an accident, right? And how porous those borders are – people who are in the same country with different ethnic backgrounds and religious backgrounds – there are a lot of ways to draw demarcations. It’s interesting to me how important those become to people and I wanted to explore that.”As with any political movement, there is a figurehead who energizes the ultranationalist base, but Irrational isn’t ready to reveal the demagogue yet. “He’ll be very present,” Levine confirms.
Read on to learn about the anarchist group running rampant in Columbia.
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So they Diss Palin on the right but name noone on the left?
you may want to even out the political commontary in this artical either change the individuals to groups in the first page or change the groups to individuals in the second page
to make it fare to both sides
Is this stuff not gone over in the magazine?
This idea is great. I can't wait for this game.
Cool story bro.
The two factions remind of Upper-class Ryan and Working-man Fontaine
With every new bit of info on this game, I want to read soooo bad, but I want to wait to see all this stuff get explained in the game!!! Why does this have to come out in 2012?
Also, what's with all the people getting all angry about the politics in this game? The way I see it, this game isn't about the evils of one ideology over the other. It's about how extremism for any side is ultimately harmful.
i havnt got my issue
They seem to be making it so both sides have reasons to dislike them. I hope they do make it like that, I'm tired of always having one side seem so righteous and non-evil that I team up with.
I think Irrational Games went too far with this. The time period and conflict are fantastic, but a flying city-let alone a "warship" city-is way over the top. The thing about Rapture is that it is somewhat believable. It's a stretch from reality, but its no more difficult to believe than Batman. After all, Rapture was built by the best of the best from all over the world. The idea of a city under the sea was really sold with the way it was crumbling- yes it could be built, but obviously it couldn't last. Even the explanation of Adam and Plasmids is believable. But a flying city, especially in 1912? For me, and a lot of my friends, that really detracts from how enjoyable this game will be. It makes it less of a Bioshock title. Lastly, I don't see how it can possibly be a Bioshock title at all without Plasmids.
It makes me kind of sick that people are getting so up-in-arms over a political comparison that actually makes a ton of sense in the scope of this title. It's just...ugh. I'm done. It's too stupid even to comment on in a way which wouldn't contribute to the ass-hattery that's going on in these comments right now.
I'm looking forward to this game sooo much
Sounds like the same game differnt place.. But who's the main character in the game, and how does he fit in.. I bet anything that he/she has the choice of which side to help win, maybe?? whos the guy that got flung off the city...
I'm so glad they aren't going back to rapture with this entry. I'm much more excited for Infinite than I was for Bioshock 2.
I can't wait for this game! I'm so happy Irrational is doing it!
I can't wait for this game! Also this may be a little off topic, but i wish people would stop bashing Bioshock 2. It may not have been as good as the first, but did anybody really expect it to be? I thought it was fun to play through rapture as a big daddy.
Sounds more like politically correct trash..give me a video game to play not a poli sci assignment. PLZ
i was skeptical at first, but this sounds awesome
Final Boss: Columbia itself. Calling it.