The videogame called BioShock was released in 2007 for multiple platforms and immediately received rave reviews. Winning awards in 2008, it continued to meet the demands of mainstream gamers and has produced a number of secondary following games. However, the first edition of the game remains most popular, which stems from a form game in terms of its overall ideas. In this essay, I consider two primary sources of influence for the game BioShock, namely its use of Art Deco and the philosophical background of Ayn Rand.
The images and buildings in BioShock carry a lot of influence from the Art Deco movement. Originating in France in the early portion of the 20th century, art deco incorporates a large variety of artistic styles. It may appear in the buildings that have a spired style and flashy or glamorous edge; it may appear in the furniture that incorporates a lot of color and again glamorous style. It does not appear as much in artwork itself, but rather shows up in those brilliant, steep and austere at times but usually glamorous French infused architectural designs.
GE building in New York City is a good example of Art Deco. It furthermore is the admitted influence for BioShock, which the creators drew on to design the buildings I the game. The underwater world that characters venture to in BioShock, for instance, houses a number of large buildings that must be explored. These stand in ways that look similar to the GE building. It is not entirely clear why the creators chose such influences, except that it helps to create a certain mood for the game. I find it a fascinating choice, one that especially resonates with the 1960s time period setting for the game.
Consider a few examples of this design style. The central building of BioShock’s underwater world looks almost just like the GE building. The lights and balcony in one of the many rooms that you explore as a player resemble the French glamor style that infused the city during the early portion of the 20th century. You might even say that the costumes of the women in the game also appear slight Deco.
Ayn Rand and George Orwell
Another influence related to the game derives from the architecture of New York City. In front of the GE building stands a Atlas Shrugged sculpture, most famously employed by Ayn Rand in her novels. This image represents objectivism, the philosophical position of Rand that advocates not altruism but self interest. Such philosophy backs the design of the game and even the later Art Deco movements. The glamor and flashy edge of Art Deco communicates a level of self interest, one that says “look at me” as opposed to fixating on other people.
The personal glamor and interest that arises in the architectural, imagistic, and philosophical influences that relate to BioShock also appear in the game itself. Beyond the simple use of images, the buildings and their interiors included, the influences appear in the plot of the game. The main character discovers a source of life called ADAM and has the opportunity to share it with other people, especially the girls who are under duress. Based on Rand’s influence, the gamer may choose not to offer this life to others and instead use it for person gains. The images of Art Deco also suggest that the beauty of ADAM lies in its power to help you as an individual. Among other things, this game received strong influences from the 20th century and also influences its gamers and other videogame designers since 2007.