This past week I completed BioShock 2 via the "super good" ending.  Not a great game, not a terrible game but overall a good and solid game.  A couple of years ago, after I completed the original BioShock my mind wandered over its characters and ending(s) remembering moments that stood out most.  Now the BioShock 2 narrative required overlooking more than a few plot inconsistencies that kept me from an emotional investment into the story.  For BioShock 2 I remember mattresses, a lot of mattresses.

2K Marin inherited a manmade universe and arduously worked to expand upon their heritage.  Rapture is an environment so detailed that my moments of wonder in the game was appreciating the work required to further add to an already complicated world.  2K Marin's attention to detail further disfigured the mutating splicers, created new ads extolling the virtues of Rapture, and displayed a real enjoyment of creating graffiti art.  The art therapy room in the therapy wing even featured actual patient art rather than one or two images duplicated in each picture frame.     

The under the sea Rapture is a self-contained apocalypse, a broken fish bowl that we can peer into.  The apocalypse has served this console generation as a faithful setting of chaos and anarchy requiring a hero to ride into town dispensing order and whether fairly or cruelly is the player's decision.  Such a setting takes delight in overturning social norms because in the wake of a cataclysmic event all that is left is survival.  Thus, video game universes have witnessed an explosion in the NPC squatter population who move into abandoned properties or make various nooks and crannies their own. 

The moaning inhabitants of Rapture have abandoned the pretense of using rooms for their designated purposes.  In the video game apocalypse, a representation of the truly lawless environment are mattresses stuffed haphazardly into corners most often surrounded by candles because the assumption is that if a mattress is crammed in a corner without even a bed sheet then electricity is unavailable.  Yet, inexplicably the plumbing continues working because toilets flush and faucets squeak water through.  With splicers hiding in bathroom stalls washing one's hands is the least of Rapture's inhabitants' many concerns.  In the world of the repurposed, mattresses blocked doors for security and provided a place for sleepy time in the most bizarre of locations.    

The go to use of mattress in the apocalypse are makeshift homes with a mattress tucked into a safe corner along with a few personal items.  As gamers we can pause in our mad dash to the next objective and wonder about the story of who the small personal space belongs to.  Other times, we are left wondering, "What in the world was the game designer thinking?"  We understand the practical need for the copy and paste tools when populating environments but sometimes an environmental moment is so bizarre that the scene could only have been created deliberately even if we fail to understand its story. 

Dead cats on mattresses that serve as a safe haven...perfectly normal. 

The above scene includes two awkwardly stacked mattresses, candles, liquor, empty tin cans, a suitcase with carefully placed shoes and a hat, as well as a cello case (Is there a cello inside?), and a dead cat.  Where is the cello player with a pet cat and a preference for fedoras in Rapture?  Perhaps the game designer was depicting a visual representation of a bad joke.  Presumably our cello player is returning for his/her cello but enough time has apparently passed for a cat to crawl onto the bed and die.  Even in the breakdown of our moral code I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I, or others, would not remove a carcass from the resting spot before laying down to sleep.       

Just like days with couch cushions and pillows in the living room except that death was not lurking around every corner.

Besides the breakdown of modern society and the insane splicers running amuck the collapse of civilization is a fantastic time to build a makeshift living room fort complete with sheets and pillows.  Who knew that apocalypse skills include pillow fort building?  These snug homes away from home suggest a surviving sane population with the mental fortitude to attempt the preservation of order.  None of these mysterious people are ever seen in Rapture despite the suggestion that the fort was only recently left due to the precise organization of the luggage and clothing.  The only remaining inhabitants found are super villains, crazed splicers, Big Daddies running amuck and blood drinking little girls.  I supposed anyone of those groups could have built a bed fort.    

A great idea for a defense if only the mattress was not only protected the wall.  How about use the mattress to hide the safe?

Makeshift forts evocative of stringing a blanket between chairs may exist in Rapture but so do actual makeshift forts meant to forcefully keep intruders out rather than provide privacy to a cozy corner.  However, even in the mad rush to throw up defenses before the invading horde breaks through I would imagine that as a band of survivors we would make sure to prop the mattress and bed frame up someplace that would actually keep intruders out such as a door frame or a window.  Leaning against a wall as if we are spring cleaning underneath the bed does not seem like much of a defense.

A battle went awry but luckily none of that blood got on that pristine white mattress.  

A mattress, a bed frame, and a whole lot of blood are much more suggestive of the battle that required flipping over a bed.  Perhaps a mattress would push over a wire bed frame but presumably some level of defense was intended before someone bled all over the floor.  Someone never learned how to defend against a flank attack.  Suddenly all those school lessons do not seem like much use when society crashes.  Anyone's schooling teaches battle tactics?   

Circumstances got dire to use children's bunk beds but despite being a Big Daddy I cannot push those flimsy defenses aside.  

A dark room and a flashlight only illuminates a small pocket of the room at a time.  Happening upon a doorway blocked by bunk beds is definitely suggestive of an apocalyptic nightmare now made more frightening that the bunk beds are suggestive of space originally intended for children.  Something happened here, something dangerous.  However, even dangerously tilted those mattresses are not falling off the bunk bed frame.  Silly mattresses defying the laws of physics, I guess all of the rules changed with the destruction of society. 

Best design scheme ever.  Obviously, bathrooms are better with a mattress.  

Upon the extinction of social norms my first instinct will be to throw a mattress into the bathroom.  The only reason I have not yet gone with this decorating scheme yet is due to the social stigma of poor decorating.  Also as this wise Rapture inhabitant did, I will remove that pesky wall between the bathroom and the hallway.  An open bathroom with a comfy mattress alongside the sink is surely design genius.  Rapture certainly has large bathrooms, a mattress (maybe twin size) alongside a wall already holding the sink, toilet, and tub along with enough left over floor space for yoga puts my bathroom size to shame. 

A peculiar scene that is slightly more peculiar than the usual apocalyptic living room. 

The "leaning against a wall mattress" was the developer's go to for mattresses populating the environment however another mattress was designed, the rolled up mattress.  For a mattress to fold over onto itself it must be made of rather flimsy material, more of a cot mattress.  But the change from the usual environmental furnishes made me stop and wonder what caused the refrigerator to wind up tipped in the living room, next to a completely rolled up mattress, while the television is still properly set up and working?  Sounds like a game of Mad Libs. 

Random furniture shoved under the stairs.  Why not?  

Similarly, while exploring for loot I happened upon a moment in which the raging Rapture population inexplicably took the time to shove a few furniture items under the stairs, including an all-important mattress.  How or why such prime fort building furniture was shoved out of the way but purposefully stacked under the stairs remains a mystery.  So many questions and the splicers refused to answer my questions.   

Television...not just for Sesame Street. 

Consider one word, mind control.  Babies have elastic minds that are stretched by their caretakers or by the television or when under the sea by a multitude of televisions.  We can argue the merits of television in the bedrooms of the children but surely most would not support multiple televisions with the express purpose of brainwashing.  Or would they?    

Surely beds with mind control devices for children will be all the rage this holiday season. 

Those crib sleeping tykes grow and require bigger beds but not without the mind control upgrades they are used to falling asleep with.  I doubt those speakers in the bed's "hood" do not play audio books of "Goodnight Moon" or sing "Soft Kitty."  If only the survivors marketed their child rearing expertise to the surface world featuring mind controlling beds and bottles that double as blood sucking syringes that the kiddies can harvest themselves.  I sense a revolution in child raising.         

Aww, a splicer taking time out of his busy schedule attacking others for a cat nap.  Hope he does not end up like that cat on a mattress.  

Finally!  A bed in use, a Rapture inhabitant complying with social norms, maybe he will answer my questions.  Upon approaching the mattress has no sheets, the room has a general lack of hygiene with puddles of "something" on the floor and my new friend who does nothing but tosses and turn while moaning.   Not much of a conversationalist.  Still, I supposed that the accommodations are still hospitable for the few who just want to lie down.  Who knows, maybe a doctor will be by soon.

Advertisements, the real reason why all of those "luxuries" become "needs."

Of course, maybe I am the crazy one seeing mattresses wherever I look in a video game environment.  Surely, the plethora of mattresses in bizarre scenarios was nothing more than developers fleshing out a game environment, after all, sane or crazy everyone needs a place to sleep.  Until, I stumbled across the following Rapture advertisement, "Bad Bedding Keeping You Up?"  Bedding is a priority in Rapture!  The mattresses flung across the city are a crazed response to advertisements advocating a good night's sleep. 

Those beds are not even slept in, that is the real problem with this scene. 

Somehow I do not think this is what the advertisement was suggesting when promoting restful sleep.  Those beds are not even slept in.  Whew, glad I am not the one seeing what is not there.  Rapture really is obsessed with mattresses that are mysteriously never water logged despite the perpetual leaking in the broken down city.  My survival skills are a fun day dream for an imagined apocalypse (personally I am making a mad dash to a drug store for hearing aid batteries) but I sure would miss a bed, with sheets.   

Thanks for reading!  Have a great week with plenty of gaming during your waking hours.

Do you remember any particularly memorable environmental pieces in a game?

Is there such a thing as overthinking a video game environment?

Should video game environments make more sense if we stop and consider what resulted in any given scene?

What would you miss most in a post apocalypse world?