Ken Levine (game developer)
Ken Levine at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 Sony Press Conference
September 1, 1966 |
Flushing, New York
|Occupation||Video game designer|
Ken Levine (born September 1, 1966) is the creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games. He led the creation of the multi-million selling, multiple "game-of-the-year" award-winning video game BioShock, and is known for his work on Thief: The Dark Project and System Shock 2. He was named one of the "Storytellers of the Decade" by Game Informer and was the 1UP Network's 2007 person of the year.
Life and career 
Pre-Irrational Games 
Levine was born in Flushing, New York. Levine studied drama at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a film career, writing two screenplays. In 1995, he was hired as a game designer by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Looking Glass Studios after replying to a job ad in Next Generation Magazine. At Looking Glass, Levine worked with pioneering designer Doug Church to establish the initial fiction and design of Thief: The Dark Project.
Irrational Games 
In 1997, following his work on Thief, Levine left Looking Glass along with two coworkers, Jonathan Chey and Robert Fermier, to found Irrational Games. The studio's first game was the science fiction RPG/shooter System Shock 2, a direct sequel to Looking Glass' original 1993 System Shock. Levine served as lead writer and designer, and the game shipped in 1999 to critical acclaim.
Irrational's next project was Freedom Force, a real-time tactical RPG that drew heavily on the love Levine and Irrational artist Robb Waters had for the Silver Age of Comic Books. After the first Freedom Force game, Irrational developed Tribes: Vengeance and SWAT 4, on which Levine served as writer and executive producer respectively.
Although Tribes: Vengeance, SWAT 4, and Third Reich all shipped within a year of one another in 2004 and 2005, Irrational had been working in preproduction on the first-person shooter BioShock, the studio's most ambitious game at that point, since 2002. The game went through numerous revisions to its premise and gameplay, and was released in August 2007, soon after Levine, Chey, and Fermier sold Irrational Games to publisher Take-Two Interactive.
In 2008, Levine delivered the keynote address at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, discussing his youth as a nerd in the 1970s and how it impacted the path of his career.
Since the release of BioShock, Levine has been serving as creative director and lead writer on BioShock Infinite, set in 1912 in the fictional floating city of Columbia. Bioshock Infinite was a massive success, winning over 80 awards pre-release and is in-talks to be Game of the Year 2013.
- VanOrd, Kevin. ""We Can Kill The Industry With Cynicism" - Ken Levine". "Gamespot". Retrieved March 20, 2013.
- Fahey, Mike. "X-Play Awards BioShock Game Of The Year", "Kotaku," December 18, 2007. Accessed April 6, 2011.
- Jenkins, David. "BioShock Wins SpikeTV Game of the Year", "Gamasutra," December 10, 2007. Referenced April 6, 2011.
- GameSpot UK Staff. "BioShock, Wii Sports top BAFTAs", "GameSpot UK," October 23, 2007. Referenced April 6, 2011.
- Davey, Jamie. "Take-Two: Grand Theft Auto franchise sells over 100 million units, GTAIV accounts for 20m", March 10, 2011. Referenced April 6, 2011.
- Game Informer Staff, "Best Storytellers of the Decade." Game Informer, #212, December 2010, p. 70.
- 1UP Staff. "2007 1UP Network Editors' Choice Awards", "1UP," January 30, 2008. Referenced April 6, 2011.
- Scharr, Jillian. "Levine ’88 discusses career as game developer". The Miscellany News. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Levine, Ken. "PAX 2008 Keynote", August 30, 2008. Referenced April 4, 2011.
- G4 TV. "Feedback LIVE! At PAX East 2011 With Ken Levine", March 12, 2011. Referenced April 4, 2011.
- Omni. "Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich Q&A with Ken Levine", "The Armchair Empire," March 10, 2005. Referenced April 4, 2011.
- Irrational Games. "Studio", referenced April 4, 2011.
- MobyGames. "System Shock (1999) Windows credits", "MobyGames," referenced April 4, 2011.
- Metacritic. "System Shock 2 for PC Reviews", referenced April 4, 2011.
- Irrational Games. "From the Vault - The BioShock Pitch", referenced April 4, 2011.
- Metacritic. "Highest and Lowest Scoring Games at Metacritic", referenced April 4, 2011.