Friday, March 1, 2013

Colmstock, Religion, and Developer blindspots




information came out yesterday that Colmstock in Bioshock Infinite originally had a different... something.  Due to spoilers the incident wasn't really given context but a few things were made clear in the article.  Ken Levine is not religious.  A senior (and well respected) artist in the studio is deeply religious. (It does not say what religion, but considering the Christian imagery in the game, we'll go with that.) 

At some point near the end of the game, the artist booted the game up, played it a bit, turned it off, and sent in a letter of resignation.  Whatever happened had offended him that much.

However, Ken Levine did NOT want to lose this particular artist, so he brought the artist in, sat down, and talked out the problem.  As it turns out, Ken Levine kind of forgot the revolutionary power of the New Testament (his words)

Forgiveness. 

Which, as a Catholic, is kind of bugging me that he only thought about how faith could be corrupted, or that the only people who can be faithful are racist and misogynistic hypocrites. 

However, it appears to have changed since then. 

First off, it appears that the Artist and Ken Levine worked out their issues so they got to a point of mutual agreement.

Second, going by some of the teasers and the sample of "Bioshock Infinite: Mind in Revolt" (the prequel book available digitally)  the religion has changed from a corrupted form of Christianity to a worship of the Founding Fathers.  (I directly quote: "I pray to Father Franklin hourly for our success.  May he open our eyes to The Mystery and allow us to discern the transmundane" )

Thirdly, the imagery has changed so while some is biblical in the abstract, there is very little specifics.  It's a cult of personality drawing on basic and vague biblical imagery, rather than stating chapter and verse.

Finally, forgiveness seems to have been adapted as a theme of the game.  Booker has a repeated phrase "Bring us the girl, and we'll wipe away the debt."  Which is a form of forgiveness, not a good one, but a form never the less.

There also seems to be some questions of forgiveness with Songbird, Elizabeth notably says she's sorry for running away to keep Songbird from hurting Booker.  Again, corrupted. 

And Elizabeth MAY be seeking forgiveness.  At the very least, she seems wary of herself and asks if Booker is scared of God. 


Maybe that's what the game will end up talking about in the end.  Forgiveness.  The ability to let the pain and fear of the past go and treat an incident like it never happened.  No strings, no threats, you just move forward and improve from where you were at that point. 


But, we'll see when the game arrives.  We have less than a month now.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that what Ken chose to aim for when he began rewriting Comstock is the idea that he is very specifically a Bad Christian -- which does NOT mean that being a Christian is what makes him a bad person. Rather, his flaw is that he has attempted to alter his beliefs to suit his purposes.

    Look carefully at all the footage that's been released. You see a lot of Founding-Fathers-as-angels stuff, and hear a lot of Old-Testament, fire-and-brimstone talk floating around... but there's barely one WORD about Jesus, and hardly a crucifix to be seen in between all the red, white, and blue stuff draped all over. Columbia's religion is all God of Justice and no God of Mercy, with an idolatrous worship of American ideals replacing faith in Christ. And they don't NEED Jesus, Mary, or Joseph when they've already got Elizabeth, their own homegrown New and Improved Messiah, and her prophet father and martyred mother.

    Comstock doesn't practice Christianity, and neither does Columbia as a whole -- it's some sort of American-style heresy, twisted to suit their political and ideological ends, like a reactionary version of liberation theology. I think what offended the employee at Irrational was that the game implied all the horrific things Comstock does in the game (including hungering for vengeance) are ACCEPTABLE behavior, if not normal, for a true Christian.

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