Irrational Gamesâ?? creative director wants to fool audience expectations

Levine on mixing beauty with the bizarre

BioShock Infinite, in terms of concept, could be the Boston studio Irrational Games’ most ambitious project so far in its thirteen-year history.

Studio Ghibli may have animated it, Jonathan Swift may have written it, but Irrational is going to build it; a breathtaking city in the sky. One buoyed above the clouds by air-balloons the size of football stadiums. A utopian retreat that somehow lost its civil values and, stranded miles above the earth, became a beautiful, ghostly prison.

Now the studio’s creative director, Ken Levine, has spoke on the team’s gargantuan task of infusing horror in this fiercely bright, sun-kissed world – a setting more accustomed to fairytales than frights.

But, Levine said in his most personal and candid interview yet, said that if the studio achieves its ambition, the pay-off could be extraordinary.

“Our goal with Infinite is to present a world that is different strange and weird that also has elements of familiarity,” he said.

“The mixture can be even more effective,” he said.

“I was out the other night and saw this absolutely beautiful woman, and she turned her face and on the other side she had a… well, it must have been some kind of birth defect.

“What was striking about her is how she carried herself, because she was beautiful, but the other side to her face stood out from it. When you see it, you stop for a second, it breaks your expectations of her being perfectly symmetrical.

“That mixture of the perfect and the strange really interests me as a game designer. It works so much better than plunging you into a world that’s completely alien.

“With the first BioShock, everything was a dark corridor. Everything was one or two guys – shotgun, electrobolt, shotgun. That was a flaw, I think. We wanted to open up the world and change perceptions.”

BioShock Infinite is due for release 2012.

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