Shacknews was able to corner 2K Games' Ken Levine and quiz the lead designer about the massive success currently being enjoyed by a little game called BioShock.
Q: Do you think in five or ten years, games like BioShock will be more common, or an anomaly?
A: It's hard to say. What is it about the game that's appealing to people? I think it's always very hard to tell. I went to a lot of people you wouldn't think of as gamers who were interested in the game because of the aesthetic and the vibe and the mood, whereas I think if they saw a System Shock 2 or a Deux Ex they may not care because as much. Aesthetics draw people in and introduce people to gaming in general, at least for this type of game.
So it's unclear whether it's particularly BioShock, or if it's that people like these kind of mechanics. I hope it's the mechanics, because I love these kind of mechanics, but we cared a lot about the aesthetic and the world.
One thing I realized while making BioShock was that we had a lot of arguments about what people liked in System Shock 2. In reality, I think the fact that the world is so interesting, and the kind of interactions you can have--more than any specific gameplay, it's the fact that you're in this world that's very unique, and you can interact with that world on many levels, is what makes it fascinating. It's not this stat system or that stat system. Make an interesting world, and let people interact with it in unprecedented ways.