How “Religious Folk” Made Bioshock Infinite Better, and How We Can Make Other Games Better Too

People enjoy stories. We like to communicate things to one another; it’s why we have language. We enjoy books, comics, movies, plays, magazines, music, and radio. Videogames are like these things. They have the ability to entertain and tell stories in colorful, meaningful ways. They do not all achieve the same success, and they do not all have the same goals. But some games attempt to be profound in their game play and in their story telling. The Bioshock series is one of those games. Thousands and thousands of people have played through that series because the story lines that have run through that series are engaging; it is the same reason that people devour Harry Potter books. They are thrilled by the story, their imaginations are stretched, and the characters connect with them.

If you can agree that stories are powerful, and that particularly good stories influence culture, then I hope that you can see the importance of Christians being active in the video game industry. Read this story about a person who worked for the third installment of the Bioshock series. I do not know if this individual was a Christian, all I know is that he was ‘religious’. But he saw something offensive in the game, something so bad that he was willing to quit his job over it. His boss, Ken Levine, didn’t want this guy to quit because he was a good worker, and so they had a heart to heart.

Here is what Levine said about their chat: “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.” In another interview, Levine had this to say about that conversation, “I’m not going to change anything to get your approval, but I think I understand what you’re saying and I think I can do something that’s going to make the story better, based on what you said.’ So I did that, and I’m grateful for them bringing in their perspective. The last thing I wanted to do was change something because it offends somebody, but the thing they pointed out was making it a lesser story.”

Here is what I want you to think about in this exchange: the ‘religious guy’ (I am assuming that this person is probably a Christian due to the fact that they talked about Jesus and the New Testament) didn’t merely save Christianity from being offended. To me, that isn’t a big deal, and that isn’t why we should encourage people to get into any field. Rather, Levine says this person helped “make the story better.”

That’s why we need to be involved in video games and every other vocation. Christians can make things better. We can enrich the project, and by doing that, we help to enrich the culture around us.

You don’t have to love videogames to be on board with that.

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  • Paul

    From my understanding of things I’ve seen elsewhere or read of interviews with Levine, it seems the specifics behind that are as follows: Levine was not brought up in a religious home and one of the characters in the game is highly religious.

    I don’t know the gender of the character in question, but I understand that the religion played a role in their being an unpleasant character. The input on this character as I understand it was to change the way the character acted, or alter the motivations or something. I don’t really know specifically what it was that had to be changed and how it was changed.

    As for Christianity, or any religion playing a role in changing the narrative of a creative work? It sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but if it goes by the visionaries/creative people who make the game and they think it makes the game/piece of work better, I’ll not argue.

  • Paul

    A follow up to my previous. Another site has explored the topic that you covered here and some of the details that I alluded to in my previous.