In a new interview with Forbes, BioShock mastermind Ken Levine claims he’s first and foremost a PC gamer, and says he wishes the industry could find a way to make PC gaming more “broadly successful.”
Levine said that despite the high regard given by gamers to his past work, the 2007 shooter BioShock, with over two million copies sold, is the first real “hit” he’s ever worked on. “We had marginally successful project – we never lost money – but BioShock is head and shoulders above the rest,” he said. Despite that, he maintained that he and his team haven’t been influenced by the increasing popularity of casual games, and that they don’t make games for “targeted demographics.”
“You can’t make Bioshock from a focus test,” he said. “It is too weird. We come up with the kind of stuff we want to do, and then it is our responsibility to make sure the company is going to make a return on its investment and we’re not off making some crazy art project. The casual space just broadens the expressive space for what we think of as gaming experiences and what people enjoy.”
But Levine also pointed out that the flip-side to making games you like to play is that you don’t get to actually play them. “My team and I make things that excite me, but the downside is that I don’t get to play them with fresh eyes,” he said. “When you make games you want to make, they always end up being games that you want to play – but you already know everything about them. So now, I don’t wish I had made [Fallout 3] because then I wouldn’t get to play it.”
Looking toward the future, Levine said he’s a believer in “industrial Darwinism,” but added that he’d like to see greater success for the PC gaming industry. “There are so many challenges for PC gaming – the complications from systems specifications to the drivers – most people look at PC games and say, ‘What are you talking about?’ It’s a shame because as a gamer, I am never more comfortable than I am sitting with a mouse and keyboard two inches away from my monitor.”
Ken Levine’s full interview with Forbes (including the part where he talks about swinging from a noose) can be read here.