We’ve done some research - yeah, we be book-smart - for some insight into some of our favorite games and compiled a bunch of our results below for your reading pleasure.
The Origin of Rapture
Rapture, the underwater city in forthcoming blockbuster BioShock, is so-called after a phenomenon experienced by scuba-divers called “nitrogen narcosis” - famously described by Jacques Cousteau as “the rapture of the deep.” Its trigger is a high nitrogen pressure within the body that in turn has an effect on nerve transmission - leaving a sufferer in a state akin to that of drunkenness or temporary mental imbalance. Divers suffering from this rapture have been known to feel extreme over-confidence, while some anecdotal stories (based on reality) have divers offering their oxygen supplies to nearby fish and stopping for cigarette breaks during their descent.
Less extreme cases, meanwhile, have prompted feelings of exhaustion, paranoia and extreme anxiety. The city of Rapture then, a deep-sea seat of madness, scientific over-confidence and delusion, is entirely aptly named. It is also perhaps a reference to the rapture discussed in several branches of Christian belief in which at a specific point, the worthy ascend to a utopian heaven to join with Christ - although in this case, the utopia the worthy have been selected for is down below rather than up above.
The bookish nature of PC gaming
Many developers cite books as direct influences to their work. STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, for example, draws heavily from Roadside Picnic (1972) by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It deals with aliens leaving behind technologically astounding artifacts in different “zones” on the planet, in which “stalkers” risk their lives to hunt and trade. The most sought-after artifact in the novel also appears in the game’s finale, a golden sphere apparently able to grant the wishes of those who discover it. Other games that draw themes from written fiction include Halo (Ringworld by Larry Niven), BioShock (Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand) and Deus Ex (The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton).
The relationship of Deus Ex to the late, great Bill Hicks
Infamous and revolutionary comedian Bill Hicks recorded a studio album of his material called Arizona Bay that was released in 1997, three years after his death. In it, he expressed his dearest wish that Los Angeles would suffer an almighty earthquake and get devoured by the ocean. In a direct nod to this, in the world of Warren Spector’s opus Deus Ex, the earthquake has indeed struck in the year 2030, and Arizona Bay is what has been left behind.