Games and Literature

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Recently, I've been playing Bioshock..

Let that stand for a moment and move on to the next sentence.

Recently, I read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

If you've experienced both of these titles, you can see where this is going.

Games have long been referencing literature. Final Fantasy comes immediately to mind--with names taken from mythology and literature, (Gilgamesh, Odin, Cerberus, the Bandersnatch, etc ad nauseum). Many games use the valuable resources of the past for inspiration or even just material.

But Bioshock is a little different. It doesn't just borrow that which is presented in Rand's works Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead--it emulates them and then explores them.

The visual aesthetic matches that of the book--American industrial revolution--but so do the thematic and character aesthetics. Look no further than your first steps into Rapture, with the sign that says "No God or Kings. Only Man." Go a little further, and the first (and most constant) of your interactions is with your guide, aptly named Atlas.

The ramifications of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, are explored in the game. For more on Objectivism and Rand in Bioshock, Brian Crecente (man-god of Kotaku and gaming journalism in general), has an excellent feature that can be found HERE.

I fully endorse this merging of mediums. 2k Australia has done that which games are supposed to do--explore our culture and experience in the way which only video games can provide.

My challenge, 2k, is not to forget your accomplishment in Bioshock 2.