Gameumentary w/ Bill Gardner on Bioshock

Telling the Story of a Horror Classic

Opening Level of Bioshock Featured Image

Gameumentary is a project I’ve been following for the past couple weeks, bringing me even more documentary goodness to dive into after a hard day at the office. While filming their piece on Perception, the team spent some extra time talking with Bill Gardner about his work on Bioshock. The latest episode is now available on Gameumentary’s Youtube channel, which primarily focuses on the game’s iconic opening level.

The forty minute long piece shows off an interview where Gardner talks all about the inception of Bioshock in its earliest stages, including an early design where the game had players fighting Nazis and using ocean-based genetics to get upgrades. If that ever becomes a full game, I would be super stoked.

We also get to see early concepts of the game’s enemies, which were once much more monstrous, but likely would’ve been less scary in the end. The truly terrifying part about Rapture is that these are people that were once normal. That sort of evil transformation could’ve happened to anyone and that connection is what made Bioshock such a horror-filled experience. This is coupled with the familiar, yet unknown sunken city, that instills claustrophobia. Learning about how this city came about in such a quick fashion is what made the experience memorable.

Gardner has definitely put a ton of thought into his design and watching him unpack that thought process years later is pretty astounding. Almost each room or set piece is explained, giving the level more depth than I had noticed before. I had felt some of the Metroid inspiration before, but putting words to it makes it more concrete.

Clearly, the game is a favorite of mine and I tend to replay it from time to time. Oh, and that first demo that may have broken Xbox Live, scared the absolute shit out of me.

Getting to hear about one of my favorite games out of one of the main minds behind the project though is invaluable. If gaming is to continue moving forward, we need more explanations of how each title comes about. Gone are the days of hiding secrets from competitors. Sometimes whole projects spring up after concepts are revealed to the public; it can just be done so fast, sometimes without a team.

As gaming develops, it becomes more and more apparent on just how important the past is. Gameumentary is just one step towards to preserving that history and asking the right questions.

We need more of this.

For more information check out the Gameumentary Kickstarter and their official website.



Most people bleed red. Alex bleeds pixels. Hailing from the deep mountains of WV, land of beautiful landscapes and internet scarceness, Alex can be found writing about games in every sense. Retro games are his life, spending more time with his GBA than his PS4. Drop by one of the social doodads for deep discussions about gaming!

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