Art Essay – Bioshock: Infinite and Steampunk (part 2)

After looking through a number of different games and art styles, I asked Tony if it was all right to actually look at something that’s Steampunk inspired. While it’s not necessarily an art movement in itself, it’s completely based on the 19th-century industrial revolution. This coincides with the already established Victorian style from the later 1800s to the early 1900s. Steampunk grounds itself in the aesthetic design of the industrial, steam-powered machinery of the time – however it’s not restricted to British themes only. Many movies and television shows have used the look, but Americanised it with a “Wild West” twist.

The city-state of Columbia uses post-Independence American architecture married with industrial/Steampunk inventions – the city itself is being held up by “a combination of giant blimps, balloons, reactors, propellers, and quantum levitation.” While flying through the air as protagonist Booker DeWitt, the player gets to view the amazing style and design choices of Ken Levine from a multitude of angles.

Levine stated that inspiration came from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (aka, the Chicago World’s Fair), the book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and American Exceptionalism (which is about the Haves and the Have Nots) such as the Occupy Movement in 2011. It’s interesting to see where they drew their storyline sources from, but also how those sources inspired the look and feel of the game.

I won’t go into too much detail (I’m saving that for the actual essay!), however a few of the focal points I need to pursue in the essay will be: the use of light, colour, composition, perspective, and volume. I’ll also compare/contrast real-world examples of style and construction with those used in the game. Finally, I would like to look into the methods used to design and texture the game, honing in on the sources of inspiration they used and how they recreated (or paid homage) to them in-game.

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