Bioshock. Paul Hellquist, designer. Ken Levine, writer. Developed by Irrational Games, 2K Marin, and Feral Interactive. Dist. 2K Games. 2007.
Bioshock is a survival-horror video game set in the fictional underwater dystopia of Rapture. Rapture was created in 1946 by the Ayn-Randian entrepreneur Andrew Ryan to be a place where titans of industry could practice capitalism without the meddling interference of the government. The citizens of Rapture were able to utilize a substance called ADAM, which naturally occurs in a species of underwater sea slug, in order to reconstitute their DNA. This gave them such preternatural powers ranging as telekinesis, controlling fire, or producing electricity. ADAM is not produced naturally in sufficient quantities and so must be synthesized by the Little Sisters, genetically-engineered and brainwashed girls who wander around Rapture recovering ADAM from corpses. The Little Sisters are protected by Big Daddies, humans that have been surgically altered to become zombie-like cyborgs. The events of gameplay take place in 1960, shortly after a civil war between the followers of Ryan and the followers of an unseen rebel called Atlas. During the war, citizens of Rapture overused ADAM, deforming them physically and mentally.
BioShock utilizes the steampunk aesthetic of creating a future with anachronistic elements. For example, BioShock contains advanced gene splicing and cybernetics, but also typewriters and glass syringes. (There are also references to Ayn Rand and Metropolis). The game requires the player to make moral choices throughout; for example, the player is able to extract ADAM from Little Sisters by healing them (turning them back into normal girls) or, to get slightly more adam, the player can "harvest" ADAM, which kills the Little Sister.