Infinite Possibilities: Ken Levine Talks About the New ‘BioShock’

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I just want to make sure I’m getting the timeline of the game’s history right. The 1900 World’s Fair happens. Columbia is unveiled and it’s awesome. Everyone’s like, “Oh my God.” It’s like a city on a hill. It’s a shining example of what America is capable of. Then they fire on the Boxer Rebellion.

Whoa, whoa. First, Comstock rises to power in the city. There’s a leader who gets pushed aside and Comstock comes in. You see a poster of him. He was made famous as the Hero of Wounded Knee like it says on the poster. He was already a nationally known figure in the game’s history.

And he’s a fictional composite here.

Yes, a fictional composite of a lot of different real people. And when he came into power, he moved the city in a certain direction. When he saw the Boxer Rebellion happening in this world he…

Decided to intervene.

He decided to intervene in a much larger way. Because we did intervene in the Boxer Rebellion. In the actual Boxer Rebellion, there was an international coalition that intervened because there were a bunch of missionaries and diplomats who were basically being executed. In the game, Columbia intervenes in a very violent way and they essentially secede from the Union because they think the Union is not American enough They disappear into the clouds and nobody knows where they are.

Was the Boxer Rebellion intervention the first of many?

I don’t want to give too many details away. But that was the big…

That was the flashpoint.

That was the flashpoint. Yeah.

So do the people of Columbia think of themselves as American still?

I think they think of themselves as more American than America. But they acknowledge that they are no longer part of the America. They say that exceptionalism is our heritage. We in Columbia deserve that heritage. America doesn’t deserve that heritage anymore because they are not living up to the true ideals.

Evan Narcisse is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @EvNarc or on Facebook at Facebook/Evan.Narcisse. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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