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Creativity 50 2013: Ken Levine

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Credit: Irrational Games

"Bioshock Infinite" could have been the "Godfather III" of video games, a big- budget sequel plagued by production problems such as the departure of core members of the creative team and blown deadlines. Instead, it's been a commercial and critical hit, boasting a 94/100 on Metacritic and sales that have exceeded even the publisher's expectations – it sold 878,000 units in its first month of release, and the company forecasts sales of 4.5 million units in the first year.

All credit goes to Ken Levine, the famously detail-obsessed creative director at Irrational Games, who once again proved that a video game can be art. Set in the gorgeously-rendered floating air city of Columbia in 1912, the "Infinite" storyline is complex without ever being confounding. There's commentary on racial and political discord, an interrogation of the first-person shooter genre, plenty of jumping around in time and space, and an ending that's less a twist than an absolute mind-melter. Mr. Levine's real accomplishment is that despite all the narrative layers, "Bioshock Infinite" is never anything less than a hoot to play.


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