With The BioShock Collection releasing earlier this week, thoughts have turned to what was once Irrational Games and its head, Ken Levine. Gamespot met with Levine to learn more about why he walked away from something that seemed like a sure formula for success—the BioShock series.
Levine explained that while he cherishes that series, the games were overwhelming, put a lot of pressure on him and his team, which adversely affected his health.
I saw a picture of me when we first announced it [BioShock Infinite]. That was 2010. And then I saw a picture of me after I did an interview on NPR when we shipped it in 2013. And I look 10 years older. It changed my life in terms of what it did to my health, and what it did to my view of making games, and my relationships with people.
I think the natural expectation was that I would go and do the next bigger and better BioShock game. And I felt, ‘I think I’ll fail if I do that. I think I’ll lose my mind, and my marriage.’ And so my solution was to quit.
He also added that he didn’t enjoy the AAA environment either, and he’s far happier working with a smaller team.
Managing 30 or 40 people where you know everybody’s name is a very different process than managing 150 people. You walk by people in the studio and you don’t know who they are.
Levine went on to say that he would rather create than manage people, which is easier to do with a smaller studio, obviously.