Ice Cream Parlor - Bioshock Infinite, artwork by Irrational Games
"Are you a Duke or a Dimwit?". Ice Cream Parlor is part of the official BioShock Infinite art collection. This limited-edition original digital art print is made from a special high-resolution in-game render. The giclee is signed by BioShock’s creator and one of the founders of Irrational Games, Ken Levine.
“A literary endeavor for the multimedia age” said The New York Times in a recent article about the critically acclaimed BioShock Infinite. Much like the original BioShock, Infinite is that rare thing in the modern games industry: a mainstream work of art crafted by a huge team of very talented people but still carrying the clear signature of an auteur. In this case that of creative director Ken Levine.
Levine’s broad interests in things like American history, pop culture and recent events like the ‘Occupy’ movement have shaped BioShock Infinite. Unusual for a Triple A blockbuster production the game intelligently explores themes like historic revisionism, racism, politics and religion elegantly wrapped in a form that gives strength to meaning: a violent shooter adventure.
BioShock Infinite is set in a fantastical lying city called Columbia in an alternate 1912. Like Rapture from the original BioShock this steampunk-meets-Beaux-Arts styled place feels like a real place for real people. That is also what formed the basis of this art collection. The game stars with a classic set-up. In order to pay back a debt the player character is tasked with picking up a girl from Columbia. When the player arrives the city is still functional. It isn't a wasteland reminder of a golden society. Where most games place you into the ruins of a society, Columbia begins BioShock Infinite in the midst of its Gilded Age with people running shops, working and socializing.
The sweet colors with which Columbia is painted and the seemingly idyllic setting contrasts sharply with the dark side of Columbia and its inhabitants and that of Columbia’s founder, Father Comstock. This is gradually revealed while playing. That context and the aforementioned themes are presented and revealed to you as player not through extensive exposition but through clever visual design and audio so abundant in the design of BioShock Infinite is one of the game’s triumphs. As with any good work of art or literature BioShock Infinite packs fascinating themes in a masterfully crafted form.