Even if he usually doesn't dip his toes into specifics, the tone of Ken Levine's games is more than enough to identify him as someone interested in history and politics. So it isn't very surprising that he's been paying attention to the recent Occupy Wall Street protests, and seeing parallels to his own upcoming game BioShock Infinite. The conflict between the xenophobic Founders and the communist-turned-militant Vox Populi is the centerpiece for a lot of the action, and Levine recently spoke about where the groups intersect with modern politics.
"As we developed these opposing groups, the Founders versus the Vox Populi, it was interesting to see this play out in real time, so that the fictional movements we're creating that are set in this heightened past are almost being duplicated in reality," he told the Washington Post (via Gamasutra). "Of course, we have these extreme movements [in the game], but they have to start somewhere. As you write, you ask, 'Do they evolve in a peaceful way or not?'"
He says the Vox Populi was originally based on a German student movement called the Baader-Meinhof Group. He calls the evolution of extremism fascinating. "They start in a peaceful, understandable place and end up somewhere very different."
He says the historical context could be "reassuring or concerning" in light of current events. "Some of those movements, dating back to the French Revolution, have had similar complaints to what Occupy Wall Street has," he said. Levine suggests that leftist movements are less organized because those groups rebel against authority. "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."
Of course, the Vox Populi eventually breaks out into all-out violence, and no one wants that part of the game to be prophetic. "I hope the real-life movements don't head to the same place, though," Levine said. "I'm not going anywhere nice, I'll tell you that much."