VG Tribune

If I Made a Bioshock Theme Park Attraction

July 21, 2012 / 12:35 PM

By: Kimlinh Tran

There’s a lot more to the Bioshock series than Rapture, the fallen utopia under the sea, evident by 2K Games currently working on the much anticipated Bioshock Infinite, where the still-alive city of Columbia soars through the sky. You can’t help but still be inspired by the unique setting that put the series on the map though and until I get my hands on Infinite, Rapture is going to turn my imagination gears.

As a screenwriting major, I was fascinated by the screen adaptation class my friend took where one of the class assignments was to turn a video game into a ride. When I took that class at my university, however, I never got such an assignment and gosh darn it, I still want to do it. But wouldn’t turning Bioshock into a ride be tacky? And didn’t Andrew Ryan already do that with Ryan Amusements? Well, you can’t top whacking his animatronic with a golf club, but I chose the impossible…

I chose… To turn Rapture into a different kind of theme park attraction.

As we’re probably more or less aware, theme park attractions based on video games aren’t a new thing. In fact, a lot of them seem more like the same kind of rides you’d expect from a typical theme park with video game characters and names thrown onto them. If you know anything about the Bioshock series, however, you can’t be typical with it.

What made Bioshock great aside from the storytelling was that it was a very immersive experience, so a cart on a linear track isn’t going to cut it. Despite the threat of psychotic splicers and massive Big Daddies, odds were you wanted to explore Rapture as much as you could to get a feel for what the city used to be and how it became the way it did. Sure, it was like walking through a museum exhibit because the story already happened…

…But do museums have Big Daddies wandering around?

Let’s cut to the chase already: Let’s turn Rapture into a haunted attraction.

Think about it. Bioshock cosplayers on their own look cool, but not as cool as they would if they had the right backdrop going for them. And looking at awesome cosplays is fun, but not as fun as being in Rapture itself.

…Or being delusional and thinking New York-New York in Las Vegas looks a lot like Rapture.

And what’s better than a ton of people in costumes just walking around a “museum exhibit”?

Cranking the immersion up to 11.

Never been to a haunted attraction, maze, or a “scream park”, like Knott’s Scary Farm or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, around Halloween before? They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and themes, from concepts like evil circuses and messed up asylums to movies like The Grudge 2 and Van Helsing. You’d be surprised how much goes into frightening the frijoles out of guests, especially in terms of immersion, and Rapture has a whole city of differently themed locations to incorporate.

  • In Bioshock, there are 11-ish main locations. One of my favorite locations is the Medical Pavilion, an eerie hub for medical businesses. Other memorable mentions are Fort Frolic, entertainment district and home of deranged artists, and Hephaestus, a geothermal power plant.
  • In Bioshock 2, there are around 8-ish main locations, including the aforementioned Ryan Amusements, a propaganda theme park, the red-light district Siren Alley, containing an orphanage where the Little Sisters were gathered up, and Persephone, a psychiatric hospital (or asylum) that branches into a prison.

Beyond movie set-like facades and props, “scare actors” are employed for their ability to think on their feet and scare people out of their pants.

Like so.

Just as there are all kinds of themed haunted attractions, there are hundreds of thousands of ways to scare people and several different kinds of scare actors to do just that… Little different from the many kinds of splicers that populate Rapture. Beyond the various splicer models creating costuming potential, I can think of several ways for splicers to put some of those scare tactics to good use.

  • One of the foremost creepiest aspect of splicers is knowing they’re around without seeing them because they roam the halls of a dead city, chattering about the things that are trapped within their minds.
  • Splicers have been known to attack in groups, making it possible for them to use their own version of a “one-two punch”.
  • Splicers love playing the game of “now you see it, now you don’t”, sometimes using shadows to direct and misdirect their target’s attention. For example, in the Medical Pavilion, a silhouette of a splicer operating is cast on a wall until suddenly, the lights go out… And it’s gone. Only to reappear later. And for another example, all I have to say is… Dentist.
  • Especially during the Hephaestus area, splicers played dead, jumping up and attacking once you were close enough. Want to check if that “dead” body is really dead?
  • While we’re on the topic of “is that thing real or not”, who can forget the plastered splicers of Fort Frolic that could be mistaken for human statues? And on top of that… Who can forget their uncanny ability to disappear and appear out of nowhere…?
  • Spiders splicers are just plain creepy by the way they climb around, with their hooks clicking against glass, but they’re also known to falling from the ceiling in front of you.
  • Compared to many other splicers, thuggish splicers with their melee weapons might not be too frightening… Until you remember that they love striking up sparks with their wrenches and pipes, reminiscent of sliders that charge out of nowhere. Or in some cases for the splicers, just barely out of sight.

Isn’t it funny how mentally disturbed splicers could hypothetically be able to get inside your head?

And to top it all off, of course there should be a cute-yet-creepy Little Sister accompanied by a hulking Big Daddy… And maybe even a surprise Big Sister. The Big Daddies, or maybe other huge enemies for that matter, could be done by animatronics, if it’s too troublesome to have actors marching around in large costumes… With working drills. Finale?

This mini-assignment of mine has been a test in punching impossibility in the throat. While I was at it, I decided to take yet another step forward, asking: How possible is it to build Rapture, complete with everything above and an “ocean”? Isn’t all this too much?

Let’s look at the lengths the folks at 2K Games would go for this series: An official Subject Delta and Little Sister romped with splicers during the Splicers Unite cosplay gatherings. During one part of the There’s Something in the Sea alternate reality game, messages in bottles were scattered across beaches, and Mark Meltzer, the leading investigator in the ARG, was so popular that he made an appearance in Bioshock 2. And for those who didn’t want to feel left out for missing these events, the games’ special edition boxes were filled with neato stuff–The lithographs in the Bioshock 2 special edition box even had secret messages that only appeared under a blacklight. Rampaging Subject Delta not included.

Every year on channels like the Travel Channel, lots and lots of haunted attractions are shown on programs like “Halloween’s Most Extreme”, to name one. Let’s look at just one example of a haunted attraction taken to the extremes…

Just. One. Example.

I think the only way for this idea to not work is that despite its creepy moments, Bioshock isn’t a horror game. In which case, if I had to turn a horror game into a haunted attraction…

I hate you.

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About the author /

No one on the staff knew Kimlinh was experienced voice actress “Hnilmik” until she mentioned it in passing. They just knew her as the screenwriting major who enjoyed visual novels, puzzle games, adventure games, and RPG’s. When she’s not busy voice acting, she’s gaming.

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  1. Alex Luciani

    Brilliant idea, I love it. The only part missing was an idea for a gift shop ;)

  2. crAziemutAnt

    I’ve had this idea, too. But not so thought out as you have done it here. You have more than enough evidence here to make it plausible. I think you should pitch this to 2K and a production company to make this happen. I would surely love to see this made and would travel anywhere to see it. Seeing how you mentioned KSF and Uni’s HHN, I figure you’re in LA. So I’m good there. Please, make it happen.

  3. Nokoe

    Me, too, have played with the idea of turning the Bioshock games into a theme park attraction. My ideas are generally the same as you mentioned above. It would be a massive experience to walk the grounds of Rapture, and explore the rich story around this awesome game.

    Even tho Bioshock isn’t a horror game per se, the splicers do lend themselves for realizing some good scare moments along the way. It’s the unexpected, that feeling of not knowing what lurks behind every corner, what makes or breaks a haunted house.

    It shall be a challenge to recreate that insane feeling of realizing the good guy (Atlas) is not the person you thought he was. And that the people entering the attraction were brainwashed by those three memorable words: Would you kindly.. Especially for those people who never heard of the game before.

    I also considered Bioshock Infinite as an attraction, but then as a ride instead of a walkthrough as described for Bioshock above. The people hook on the sky-lines to explore the story we know, much like Universal Studio’s Harry Potter attraction

    I think the waiting rooms have a lot of oppertunities as it comes to ‘setting the mood’, making them feel at ease in Colombia and being guided by the Lutece (‘twins’), untill reality slaps them in the face once the ride has started.

    It would be lovely to see these games come to life as a themepark attraction. Great thought, lovely ideas. I support it! :)

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