Art Perspective: BIOSHOCK & Art Deco

While gaming as a medium is still very young, there is obviously a wealth of creativity from other art forms that could be used to create more mature games.

BioShock is the critically acclaimed first person shooter from developers 2K Boston. When it was released in late 2007, the game was met with a torrent of praise from both critics and fans, it later went on to win many, many game of the year awards. The title still holds the joint number one spot on Metacritic€™s top rated games of all time for the PC, and is number two on the Xbox 360, second only to Grand Theft Auto IV. BioShock stood out for many reasons, from its beautifully executed story to its intriguing gameplay. It is a truly engaging and mature game, that did much more than most first person-shooters, BioShock made the player think, throughout its unfolding story and unnerving setting. The games level of maturity can been seen in many aspects of the games design, each facet taking inspiration from other works of art; the games story and themes have been compared to Ayn Rand€™s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. The quality of the game design can also be seen in the games graphical achievements, voice acting, pacing, relatively easy controls and the games art direction.

What made the game so special, from an art direction perspective, is the game world. The game is set in the 1960€™s, as the games protagonist Jack crash lands in the Atlantic ocean. The player then swims to a nearby structure which leads to the underwater city of Rapture. Although the players adventures are set at this later date Rapture itself was build in 1946. The city has been created in a style fitting with the times, the team truly considered American architecture of the time. Rapture has a distinct Art Deco feel, the movement is the main influence, with a few Steampunk elements thrown in. The building of rapture was a time just after the Art Deco€™s initial peak in the 1930€™s. The movement did see some later revivals but almost all of the most famous structures in the style were built during the 1930€™s, such as New York€™s Chrysler Building and San Francisco Bay€™s Golden Gate Bridge. The interiors the player must navigate are also reminiscent of the Deco style, the interior of the Hoover dam and Empire State Building must have influenced Raptures design. BioShock is a masterclass is high quality design, each corridor and room feels as if it was build for a purpose, and follows the rules of functionality and glamour that the Deco movement strived to represent. It is this style that compliments the games story; only a short period after its initial construction Rapture has fallen into anarchy at the city crumbles before the players eyes. Art Deco was a movement that was meant to look forward to a new future and in Bioshock we see that future go wrong. This idea of borrowing an art style from other mediums is perhaps underutilised within game industry. While gaming as a medium is still very young, there is obviously a wealth of creativity from other art forms that could be used to create more mature games. BioShock 2 was the games sequel, although it stuck with the same solid game play mechanics and was set yet again in the world of rapture, the game lacked the level of high quality story of it predecessor. BioShock Infinite will be the third in the series and looks set to explore a new world, set in the skies and at an earlier date than the events of Rapture, it will be interesting to see the games artistic influences when it hits consoles next year.

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