A rational move for Irrational Games?
Ken Levine, co-founder and creative director at Irrational Games, has decided to close the development studio that moved the video game world forward by creating vivid, original worlds like Rapture and Columbia in the Bioshock series. He's cut his staff to 15 people and plans to work on smaller, narrative driven games available via digital download.
Of course, my first reaction was one of vitriolic anger. How could you, Ken!? You gave us the best game of the entire 360/PS3 generation with Bioshock! You romanced millions of gamers into an objectivist dystopia by way of an FPS! You followed it up with a mind bending, reality jumping masterpiece with Bioshock: Infinite (We all know Bioshock 2 was farmed out to other companies.)
Now that the story has sunk in a bit, I've gained some perspective. I trust Levine. He isn't going to suddenly start churning out downloadable crap like Braid. He's better than that. Let's face it, the best part of the Bioshock games was the narratives! I have a feeling we don't need multiple weapon load outs and crazy superpowers to enjoy what Levine and his new company will have to say.
Personally, I hope he follows the episodic route started by Telltale games and their brilliant Walking Dead series. I don't want adventure games from Ken, of course, but he can use his expertise in film study and video game development to deliver regular episodes of gaming nirvana.
So, while I mourn the death of the Bioshock universe as I knew it, I also celebrate just how important it was and still is. I'll never forget meeting Andrew Ryan or my trips to the light houses. But this industry moves fast, and I know that mister Levine knows what he's doing.
I can't wait to see what's next.