The Future Of PC Gaming, According To BioShock Lead Creator

For PC Gaming Week, Kotaku has invited top creators to predict the future of computer gaming. Today, we hear from Ken Levine, head of Irrational Games, the heralded studio behind System Shock 2, BioShock and the forthcoming BioShock Infinite.

"After a long day in front of a PC, the last thing I want to do is come home and sit in front of a PC."

I hear this all the time from game developers.

It is not something you'll hear from me.

When I get home, my wife and I have a routine. We eat dinner together, and then I head upstairs. To my PC.






Rock Paper Shotgun.

Steam Store.

And so on.

Then, I boot something up. Today it's Civ 5. Yesterday it was the Cataclysm beta. The day before, Minecraft or Torchlight.

Later on in the evening, I'll boot up the 360 or the PS3. And at bedtime, it's the iPad, which I read until I fall asleep. Maybe I'll pass out playing 100 Rogues or Sword & Poker.

But when it comes down to it, as a gamer, I'm a PC. I like the kind of games you can play on it. I like that designers know they have your full attention, so they feel comfortable EXPECTING your full attention. I like the ergonomics of the thing, the mouse and keyboard, the effortless transition from gaming to browsing to typing. I'm an alt-tab kind of guy.

What's the future of the PC? Social games? MMOs? Freemium?

Fuck if I know. But I know this: The PC will always be the place that drives innovation. The PC is the place where great game developers are born, even - and maybe especially - where great console game developers are born. Halo, Mass Effect, Call of Duty… PC developers first. And it's on the PC where the leading-edge ideas form, primarily because the barrier of entry is low and you can have an idea that goes like this:

"Hey, I've got an idea!"

"Cool! Who do we need to approve this idea?"

"Umm… nobody?"

And then the idea gets done. Because magic can happen when there are no middle men, no marketers, and no naysayers.

Sometimes it's a disaster. In fact, usually it is. Most ideas are terrible.

But sometimes it's Steam.

And sometimes it's modding.

And sometimes it's Minecraft.

And then we all, gamers and developers, get to high-five the universe and think about how lucky we are.

What's the future of PCs?

Again, fuck if I know.

But here's something you can take the bank: If you want to know the future of gaming, buy a PC. And pay attention. Because above all, that thing on your desk is a crystal ball.

Ken Levine is the co-founder, President and Creative Director of Irrational Games. He led the creation of the multimillion unit selling, multiple game-of-the year award-winning title BioShock. He was named 2007 Person of the Year by the 1Up Network and was named the number one game developer of the 2007 by Next-Gen.Biz.


    Finally, something refreshing, a game designer who doesn't pretend he knows!

    I hear people like Cervat Yerli talking about where the future in PC games is... but they don't know for certain. You can't say that people won't pay for games, and until the day such a massive paradigm becomes the norm, I won't believe it.

    He claims that all games will become free to play with exclusive "paid-for" content. Really? You're saying that Single Player RPG's will have unlockable hats through purchase?

    Again, just one example. I respect Cervat and Crytek, but I don't agree in this instance.

    As long as game developers can remain relatively fluid, NOBODY can predict the future of games, and that's what's so brilliant about this industry! The fact that Modern Warfare 2, Minecraft and Farmville are considered successful is a testament to the variety of gamers and the disparity between their interests.

    My 2cents.


    I love Ken Levine.

      “Hey, I’ve got an idea!”

      “Cool! Who do we need to approve this idea?”

      “Umm… nobody?”

      How can you not?

    So good, great response. It's too easy to start thinking about how well iPad's, iPhone's, XBLA, PSN etc are doing, but he makes a very simple and logical definition of the almighty PC, particularly in the notion of knowing a PC game has the player's full attention. Well done.

    Ken, I love your games. But the phrase does ring too true for me: “After a long day in front of a PC, the last thing I want to do is come home and sit in front of a PC.”

    Thus, I play your games in consoles.

    Finally you get a dev who talks like a person and doesnt sound like a marketing agency who cant do anything but blab on about social media completely ignoring how most social media is completely and utterly dependant on advertising and a new business model for it will take some serious research to overtake the sort of game thats an upfront $100 bit of revenue. expensive fluffin' crystal ball though, Big Kev. ;-)

    WOW...just when I thought it was another: 'PC piracy is ruining the industry, and the whole world will only be playing on consoles in another 5 - 10 years' bullshit. I have to believe that PC gaming is here to stay. There are far too many pro's that outweigh the con's. Can I adjust graphics settings on a console? Change advanced options, as well as AA and AF according to performance, or advanced tweaks to the configuration files (GTA 4, anyone)? Can I get the same pinpoint accuracy on a controller that I can get on a keyboard and mouse?

    There have been so many times where I have been playing a game on a console and thought to myself: 'if only I could play this game on the PC, then it would look and play so much better'...OR, 'I can't wait until they port this to PC.'

    There are a few exception which stick out in my mind like the UNCHARTED games...but mostly I am looking, or hoping, for that game to arrive on the PC platform. It wins, hands down.


    "I like the kind of games you can play on it. I like that designers know they have your full attention, so they feel comfortable EXPECTING your full "

    then in his next sentence

    "the effortless transition from gaming to browsing to typing. I’m an alt-tab kind of guy."

    kind of sending mixed messages there.

    Essential product information for offers game products like like xBOX 360 ,1600 microsoft points and many update games at cheaper rate than market.
    It offers auction for the products.I found the concept interesting.

    Interesting article, and I agree with most of it, except I do feel sorry for his wife. She gets what, twenty minutes with him at dinner and then he disappears for the rest of the night to talk to other people online and play games and eventually pass out on the couch?

    I can't see the future of gaming, but I can see the future of *his* gaming, and it includes a copy of 'Microwave Cooking for One'.

    Most of the time when i read this guys words i see contradiction after contradiction. Especially when he's talking up his own work. e.g. saying they are revolutionising the way FPS games are played, when in fact, his game almost feels like a step back for the genre.

    Sadly Kev did not spearhead the developement of Bioshock 2 on PC :( If so, PC gamers would not have issues like a lack of widescreen support as well as the fact that Minerva's Den remains console exclusive.

    Speaking as an Economist, Levine's reasoning is inarguable.

    He's quite correct. The PC is the most innovative of all platforms. New ideas begin on PC before filtering their way into the consoles.

    I think the only idea that consoles had which was completely novel was an achievements system (thanks to the Xbox 360). Otherwise, most innovations in the console market consist of bringing PC features into consoles.

    Look at the PS3; its basically a living room PC with a different kind of CPU.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now