BioShock Infinite’s Depiction of Religion Almost Caused an Artist to Quit
Zachary Comstock’s racism and religious zealot may have been taken a bit too far, to a point that a member of Irrational Games almost quit in protest.
The founder of Columbia, Comstock is portrayed as a figure of worship for a major part of his country. Speaking to GameSpot, Creative Director Ken Levine explained how difficult it was to create Comstock’s character, coming from a non-religious background. He specially highlighted an end-game scene which nearly caused an Irrational member to quit the team in protest.
“There was a scene in the game at the end where one of our artists got to a point in the game, played it, turned off BioShock, opened up his computer, opened Microsoft Word, and wrote a resignation letter,” said Levine. “It had offended him so much.”
Last month Levine mentioned that a character from the new BioShock would be getting “highly altered” after input from religious team members. It is now known that the character was in fact Comstock.
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. And thinking about how I would incorporate the power of that notion to Comstock into his world was, to me, the key. Because who hasn’t done things that they don’t want to be forgiven for?
And it occurred to me that I had to figure out why people follow him. That was the key to his character. Why do people follow him? What does he provide to them? And I struggled with that for a long time because obviously an ecstatic religious experience is something that a religious leader provides but I don’t have a connection to as a writer. And it’s always hard when you’re trying to write something that you have never felt. And that would feel dishonest to me.
You can read the full interview here.