Leftist groups tend not to like authority; nobody in them tends to listen to it. So Occupy Wall Street has been helping me because I’ve been struggling to figure out how the Vox Populi get to the point in the demo. Throughout the game, you’re actually watching them — you see in the beginning of the game that they’re a dead movement and a movement that really fails, and it picks up steam based upon your actions.
The part that we demoed is based on what happened with the German leftist groups where they went after a rich part of town.
Hopefully, Occupy Wall Street won’t get to the point that the Vox Populi does, but seeing it spread and taken more seriously, that’s been interesting and really helpful.
And what have you been learning?
I think what’s interesting for me is as the groups move toward the extreme is how similar they are to one another. Look at, say, Stalinist Russia and Hitler’s Germany. Stalin doesn’t have the negative reputation that he deserves, really; they had completely opposing ideologies but were exactly alike in some ways.
So I start [Vox Populi leader] Daisy Fitzroy and [Founder leader] Comstock on opposite ends of the spectrum. Maybe that’s what the study of these movements is: The movement becomes about the ideology and not about reality. The reality starts to change, and it becomes that people would rather give up reality than ideology.
What do you hope players pull away from that message?
The games tend to be a Rorschach [test] for people, and I’ve heard both sides of reaction [to the demo]. I had the displeasure of going to a white supremacist site that made a point of saying this game by “the Jew” Ken Levine was about killing white people. But then I went to this leftist site that said this is about discrediting leftists movements. Games, as I said, are a Rorschach, and I don’t want to be making games that are expressing a political or philosophical view.
I’d rather be asking questions, rather have people question what they think. There are still people that think that the first “BioShock” is a vindication of Rand’s philosophy and some people that say it’s a character assassination of Ayn Rand.
From where I sit, people think it has to be one or the other and there’s no middle ground. Personally, that tends to scare me.
You like the gray area.
It’s much more interesting there. It’s much more interesting in life. I project questions I’m struggling with and look at those movements. Both have things I agree with, and others I radically disagree with.