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The art design of BioShock

It’s no secret to those who know me that I am a big video game nut, and few things get me going in a game like a strong art design.  Even if it doesn’t run on the most cutting edge hardware, a game with an excellent art design can still look beautiful.  And 2008’s BioShock has beautiful art in spades.

Called an instant classic upon its release, BioShock was a wonderfully artistic game.  Its story tackled intelligent philosophical themes that are hardly ever touched on in the medium, and its atmosphere of isolation and fear was thick enough to cut with a knife.  Much of that was due to the unorthodox setting.  Rapture is a city at the bottom of the sea, a retro sci-fi dystopia left in near-ruins but still dripping with 50’s art deco design.  That design permeates every visual aspect of the game, and turns it into something that is visually distinct and uniquely gorgeous.

 

BioShock screenshot

BioShock is permeated with a wonderfully retro art deco vibe.

 

One of my favorite visual aspects of the game is the advertisement posters scattered throughout the walls of Rapture.  These are where the retro design comes through the most, and they are all wonderfully designed pieces of art in their own right:

 

 

Cool, huh?

 

I’m certainly not the only person who feels this way.  BioShock‘s art has garnered a lot of praise.  So much in fact, that it has a good chance of ending up in the Smithsonian.  The museum is planning an exhibit dedicated to the artwork of video games, and they are letting the public vote on which games will be concluded.  BioShock is not only in the running, but is considered a front runner to be included in the display.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for some of the best artwork of an often-overlooked medium to be shown off to a wider audience.