BioShock Infinite artist almost resigned over game's depiction of religion

Omri Petitte at

BioShock Infinite Comstock

Two of the many -isms supercharging BioShock Infinite's narrative is the religious extremism and racism of Zachary Comstock, the zealous ultra-nationalist founder of Columbia and a figure of worship for many of its citizens. In an interview with GameSpot, Creative Director Ken Levine stresses the difficulty in creating Comstock as a designer from a non-religious background, and he recalls how a certain end-game scene with the character nearly caused an Irrational artist to quit 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," Levine says. "It had offended him so much."

Last month, Levine spoke of a certain Infinite character getting "highly altered" after input from religious team members. It seems the character in question is Comstock, and Levine used the artist's concerns as a springboard for deepening the character's traits regarding faith beyond his limited interaction with religion.

"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," Levine explains. "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," he continues. "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."

Head over to GameSpot for the full interview.