5 Things in Video Games With Absolutely Horrifying Origins
Video games are art, and art mirrors life... though I have yet to find a mirror that grants me a rocket launcher with infinite ammo to blow up zombies with, but hey, thems the breaks. The point is that the people who make video games draw on real world experiences in order to create what they create.
And sometimes that's wonderful. I did a whole article about how many of our most beloved characters were based on programmer's friends and family. That's amazing! What's better than finding out that you are now a pink hero beating up trees.
On the other hand, sometimes programmers get their ideas from things in the real world that are stomach-turningly horrible. And I've decided to collect them all together in one place like a traveling cart full of pickled punks. Why? Because if I'm going to be full of twisted trivia then so are you.
The Game: In BioShock Andrew Ryan's libertarian undersea utopia fell into chaos after a new gene-splicing designer drug hit an unregulated market. The victims of the drug known as splicers turned into savage brutes that would hunt and kill any person they saw, all sporting facial scars resulting from the use of the ADAM compound.
The Origin: The distinctive look of many of the splicers was based off pictures of facial reconstructions from World War One plastic surgeries, like this one done on sailor Walter Yeo. These were the work of Sir Harold Gilles, the father of plastic surgery who perfected the grafting of skin over the wounds sustained in the fighting on thousands of patients. Further inspiration would also come from the work of Francis Derwent Wood, who sculpted masks to use as replacements for soldiers who had lost portions of skull bone from gas and explosions.
The Game: In the first Portal our hero Chell is trapped in the Aperture Science Testing Facility, being forced to perform for the amusement of a psychotic AI. In the 17th test chamber, she's required use a Weighted Companion Cube to solve a long puzzle. Eventually, Chell is forced to drop the Cube in an incinerator to proceed, and the AI implies that this was a form of murder on the part of the player.
The Origin: Lead programmer Kim Swift was inspired to create the Companion Cube after reading a declassified government document about interrogation techniques. Subjects in isolation tended to form deep personal attachments to inanimate objects, personifying them and treating them as friends. Swift was delighted with the idea, and had the AI imply that the Cube was Chell's only friend in order to make burning the Cube feel like torture to the player.