Bioshock Infinite suffered numerous setbacks during its development and some workers involved in it have shared their experiences with the Irrational Games title.
Bioshock Infinite was one of the most awarded and acclaimed video games of 2013 for its great quality in all aspects. The game, directed by creative Ken Levine, managed to win the hearts of audiences with the complexity of its story, how charismatic its characters were, and the imposing, beautiful and vibrant floating city of Columbia.
Recently, an excerpt from Jason Schreier’s book, Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry, has been published on Polygon. The book is a very complete investigation about the internal functioning of the video game industry . One of its chapters tells us about the collapse of studios that managed to publish great triple AAA games. It includes interviews with Irrational Games developers who were involved in Bioshock Infinite and who suffered from labor exploitation . One of the producers, Don Roy, says in an excerpt that he joined the project in March 2012 and was surprised by the lack of organization being a year away from launch.
Bioshock Infinite had a development full of problems that ended up leading to labor exploitation of its developers
The development of Bioshock Infinite suffered from setbacks and all kinds of problems that made workers have to work longer hours than they should to launch the game on time. Several developers stated that working with Ken Levine was a challenging and somewhat uncomfortable experience. Levine was regarded within the studio as a brilliant and capable creative, but with serious problems conveying or explaining his ideas to the 200-person development team that made up Irrational Games. Following the release of the extract from Schreier’s book, other former developers who worked at Irrational have shared their experiences.
Developer Mikey Soden comments on his personal Twitter that he is proud of the game and the team that built it almost 10 years ago, but that he continues to have mixed feelings about the development that Infinite had . He further comments that many employees experienced numerous difficulties that were a problem for them, the team and their families. The development of Infinite came to affect workers physically and mentally. The closure of Irrational Games was inevitable because its method of operation was not sustainable and its practices should not be taken as an example, even though they are still familiar to us.
I'm proud of this game and the team who built. Those of you sharing your stories openly are inspiring. Almost 10 years later my feelings on developing Infinite remain complicated. As folks like @LadieAuPair have shared: Infinite gets the most attention on my resume. https://t.co/MWdQTMdlYB
— Mikey Soden (@BonusSoden) May 10, 2021
Developer Tara Voelker has also shared details about the disastrous development of Bioshock Infinite on Twitter. Broadly speaking, he says that when he joined Irrational Games , he was in charge of quality control of the multiplayer mode, which ended up being eliminated, in a team of between twelve and fourteen people. However, more than half the time I was acting as Ken Levine’s personal secretary, taking specific notes, jotting them down as tasks, and following up. By his account, it was frustrating not being able to devote time to his true role within the development team because of the extensive meetings with Levine . VoelkerShe highlights that she loves the colleagues and friends she made at Irrational, but that she didn’t feel healthy working there with all the pressure.
When I started at Irrational, I was the Multiplayer QA Lead. When I left, I was technically QA Level Lead but honestly spent 50% of my time as a personal Ken secretary, sitting in 1:1 meetings to take very specific notes, entering them in as tasks, and following up with Rod. https://t.co/vcQEwqr9XY
— Tara "Riot Starter" Voelker (@LadieAuPair) May 10, 2021
The labor exploitation is one of the biggest problems and one of the worst current practices involving the video game industry. Long development times, internal problems that end up leading to overtime that harm the health of developers and the inevitable closure of studies due to their unsustainability is something rather common. What do you think about the statements of the Irrational team?