BioShock Infinite's religious themes led dev to consider quitting
Irrational Games developer so offended by scene in upcoming action game he wrote resignation letter (but did not quit); situation was a breakthrough for Ken Levine.
One Irrational Games developer was so offended by the religious themes of a certain scene in BioShock Infinite that he sought to quit the company immediately after completing his playthrough of the level.
"There was a scene in the game at the end where there's a gentleman here--one of our artists--who got to a point in the game, played it, turned off BioShock, opened up his computer, opened Microsoft Word, and wrote a resignation letter; it had offended him so much," Levine told GameSpot in a new video interview.
After it was brought to his attention, Levine spoke with this developer. His discussion with this "extremely religious guy" helped Levine better understand how to write the game's Comstock character, something he had struggled with for a long time.
"And I ended up having a conversation with him; my first impulse was I don't want this guy to go because he was a good guy and a talented guy," Levine said. "And we actually ended up having a long talk; he was an extremely religious guy and when we started talking, I realized that something I could connect to was a notion of forgiveness and what an important part that is of the New Testament and why Christ was such a revolutionary figure."
"I realized that something I could connect to was a notion of forgiveness and what an important part that is of the New Testament and why Christ was such a revolutionary figure."
"And thinking about how I would incorporate the power of that notion to Comstock into his world was, to me, the key. Because who hasn't done things that they don't want to be forgiven for?"
This developer did not end up quitting Irrational Games.
This was a breakthrough for Levine. He explained that writing Comstock, the religious, ultranationalist antagonist of BioShock Infinite, had been a long and difficult struggle due to his lack of personal religious knowledge.
"[Comstock] was one of the toughest characters for me to write because I don't have a religious background, let alone the darker side of his beliefs; the racist side of his beliefs. So I really had a lot of trouble writing him for a long time," Levine explained.
"And it occurred to me I had to figure out why do people follow him? That was the key to his character. Why do people follow him? What does he provide to them? And I struggled with that for a long time because obviously an ecstatic religious experience is something that a religious leader provides but I don't have a connection to as a writer," he added. "And it's always hard when you're trying to write something that you have never felt. And that would feel dishonest to me."
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