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BioShock 2 Cultural References

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Like BioShock before it, BioShock 2 contains many references to real life, video games, or history. Many of these references were placed in the game by a BioShock 2 designer, Steve Gaynor.[1]

Video Game ReferencesEdit

  • 451 - The code, "1540" used to open the first locked door in BioShock 2 is a reference that has been used in several games made by previous employees of Looking Glass Studios[2] since the creation of the System Shock[3] game series, the predecessor of the BioShock games. In System Shock the first locked door could be opened with the code 451. In System Shock 2, there was a door that could be opened with the code 45100. In the game Deus Ex[4] (which was made by Ion Storm,[5] a company with several previous employees of Looking Glass Studios) 0451 was a code to open an armory. In BioShock, 0451 opens a locked closet in Twilight Fields Funeral Homes.[1][6] In BioShock Infinite, 0451 is the code to unlock an elevator. The number itself comes from the title of a book by Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451."
  • Hitman[7] - In Pauper's Drop, the Fontaine Clinic door code is 0047, which happens to be the code name for the protagonist in the video game series, Hitman. Also, the name of the person who recorded the Audio Diary pointing to the code is "Tobias Riefers"—an alteration of "Tobias Rieper," the name that Agent 47 gives as a pseudonym in the mission "Traditions of the Trade" from the original Hitman game.[1]
  • Pac-Man[8] - Continuing the tradition of Pac-Man references begun in BioShock (see Worley Winery) some of the random names that can be assigned to hacked Security Bots with the Handyman Gene Tonic are "Pinky", "Blinky" and "Clyde"; the ghosts in Pac-Man.[1]
  • System Shock[3] - The achievement/trophy name "Look at you, Hacker" is a reference to a well-known (though unused) line by the main antagonist, SHODAN, in System Shock, BioShock's spiritual predecessor.
  • Unstable Teleport Plasmid - This defective Plasmid found in Fontaine Futuristics is a nod to the Teleport Plasmid which was cut from BioShock due to the many glitches it would have caused. It also briefly shows a Splicer being surprised by your appearance, a reference to Half-Life 2 in which a malfunctioning teleport will do the same thing, albeit with much larger consequences.
  • Thief - One of the possible names a hacked Security Bot can be assigned is "Garrett," the name of the protagonist from the game Thief. Also, female Splicers will occasionally say "You can't hide in the shadows for long" if they are alerted but cannot find you — guards in Thief sometimes say this exact line when searching for the player.

Name InspirationsEdit

Developers Names Bulletin Board
  • Detective Suspects - Scraps of paper on the wall in Detective Rock Flanagan's office in Pauper's Drop list the names of several BioShock 2 developers. On a scrap labeled "Insane": Collin Fogel, CJ Green, Karina Riesgo, and Brandon Pham. On the scrap labeled "Special": Rinaldo Tjan, Brandon Pham, and Rich Wilson. Viewing the complete texture file reveals the title as "Special Treatment" or "Treatment".
  • Gaynor Peaches - The brand name on each tin of Canned Fruit is a reference to Steve Gaynor.
  • Gilbert Alexander - Gil Alexander's name was a tribute to Stephen Alexander, an FX artist at Irrational Games who was influential in the making of BioShock.[11]
  • Handyman - A tonic acquired in the game assigns random names to any Security Bots that the player hacks. The player can control two hacked bots at the same time, creating several name combinations that are references to characters in the game, members of the game development team, or other real life people: "Rachel" & "Steven", "Andrew" & "Ryan", "Tommy" & "Rebecca", "Jordan" & "Thomas."
  • Penal Colony Inmates - Several names of inmates in Persephone are taken from members of the BioShock 2 development team (Mattson, Wilson, Thomas).
Shotgun Rack Fishbowl Diner
  • Steve Gaynor's girlfriend - Steve Gaynor, the level designer for Adonis Luxury Resort and Pauper's Drop, makes a reference to his girlfriend Rachel Jacks in the Audio Diary Fitness in Adonis Luxury Resort. In the sauna, there is an Audio Diary by "Rachelle Jacques." Rachelle has a husband named "Stephen" who sits around listening to radio serials while she swims laps at the Adonis. According to Gaynor, Rachel goes to the gym while he stays home and plays video games. A photo on a wall-mounted shotgun rack in the Fishbowl Diner is a picture of Rachel.[1]


  • Doctor Who - The inspiration for Sofia Lamb's character was that of Fenella Woolgar's[13] role as Agatha Christie[14] in the tv-series Doctor Who.[15][16]
  • Judas - Sofia Lamb compares Stanley Poole with Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus,[17] in her audio diary A Spy.
  • Louis the 15th - Eleanor Lamb breaks a tea service in the style of Louis XV of France, which can be heard in her audio diary Destructive Learning. Louis XV was one of the kings of France during the 18th century.[18]
GUL MugShots

The Mugshots from game textures.

  • Mugshots - A board of convict portraits in the Security booth in Inner Persephone are actually photos of BioShock 2 developers, including Jordan Thomas, Michael Kamper, Rinaldo Tjan, Rich Wilson, Hogarth de la Plante, Steve Gaynor and Ryan Mattson.[19]
  • Nighthawks - Pauper's Drop's Fishbowl Diner was inspired by the painting Nighthawks,[20] by the American artist Edward Hopper.[21]
  • Revelations - The graffiti on the plaque directly across from the Vita-Chamber where Subject Delta first awakens in Adonis Luxury Resort reads "Fallen, fallen is Babylon." This is a reference to the Bible passage Revelation 18:2, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird."[22]
  • Schrödinger - A frozen cat in Imago Fine Arts is a reference to Schrödinger's cat;[23] a thought experiment by the famous physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who postulated theories about quantum entanglement.[24]
  • The Wizard of Oz - BioShock 2 has a few references to the cult MGM 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz:
  • If Delta chooses to save the Little Sister in Ryan Amusements, Sinclair will say of him that "our tin man had a heart all along," an allusion to the Tin Woodsman, a caring character of the story who seeks an heart without realizing he doesn't need one.[25]
  • Sinclair also comments in an audio diary that Andrew Ryan "reckoned the free market was some kinda holy spirit gonna lead us all over the rainbow,"[26] a possible reference to Over the Rainbow, the most popular song from the film, reflecting the main character's dream of finding a place out of all trouble.
  • Concept art for the Triton Cinema has the movie advertised for showing.
  • A concept art for a heaven-like outside appearance of Persephone (similar in shape to the definitive rending) had Persephone look like a green crystalline and transparent structure, which share similarities to the Emerald City of Oz. Coincidentally, the protagonists of BioShock 2 follow a single road to it (the Atlantic Express line) just as Dorothy and her friends walk along the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. In both stories, the destination at the end of the road is the place where their wish are granted.

BioShock 2 MultiplayerEdit


Comparison of the concept art for Blanche and the photo of Rita.

  • Pavlov's DogsSuresh Sheti uses the term "Pavlo's pets" to describe his audience in his audio diary Intellectual Stimulation. This referes to Ivan Pavlov's famous experiment with classical conditioning on his dogs.[27]
  • PlayboyOscar Calraca's nickname, The Playboy, is an obvious reference to the Playboy magazine.[28]
  • Rita Hayworth - The appearance of the playable character: Mlle Blanche de Glace, was modeled after a picture of the famous actress Rita Hayworth.[29]
  • Shirley TempleLouie McGraff refers to the famous child star of the 1930-60[30] when he picks up the Little Sister, by saying "Alright Shirley, come 'ere!"
  • The Kraken - The map Point Prometheus features a Kraken exhibit with a large statue of the mythological octopus Kraken. The exhibit was inspired by the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,[31] which the multiplayer art director Mat Tremblay, saw as a child.[32]

Minerva's DenEdit

  • Brent Hudson - This character is named in honor of Kent Hudson, Senior Systems Designer at 2K Marin during development of BioShock 2.[33]
  • Christopher di Remo - Named for Chris Remo, host of the Idle Thumbs podcast, and the Community Manager at Irrational Games.[33]
  • Jack McClendon - The founder of McClendon Robotics is named after Zak McClendon, the Lead Designer of BioShock 2. Jack's radio portrait is also a photo of Zak.[33]
  • Minerva - Minerva, the namesake of the DLC and the first level, is the Roman goddess of wisdom.[34] Her symbol is an owl, which is seen in numerous places throughout the DLC.
  • Hedy Lamarr - The name of the Minerva's Den exclusive Splicer model Heady, is a reference to actress Hedy Lamarr.[35]
  • Named cats - Each level in the Minerva's Den DLC features a single named cat corpse.[33]
    • Minerva's Den - Babbage: Named for Charles Babbage, the man credited with inventing the first mechanical computer.[36]
    • Operations - Lovelace: Named after Ada Lovelace, a woman credited with having written the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.[37]
    • The Thinker - Turing: Named after Alan Turing, who conceptualized the "Turing Machine."[38]
  • Named slugs - Nine sea slugs found in jars are named after main developers of the DLC, including Steve Gaynor, Devin St. Clair, Jeff Fisher, Scott LaGrasta, Mario DiPesa, Rinaldo Tjan, Will Armstrong, Collin Fogel, and Brandon Pham.[33]
  • The Thinker - The name of the Rapture Operational Data Interpreter Network is inspired by the famous statue of the same name, sculpted by Auguste Rodin.[39] The acronym of the computer's name is R.O.D.I.N.- the last name of the sculptor. A version of The Thinker sculpture can be seen in the lobby of Minerva's Den.[33]

See AlsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "BioShock 2... seeeeeeecrets" article by BioShock 2 designer Steve Gaynor on his blog, Fullbright
  2. Looking Glass Studios, on Wikipedia
  3. 3.0 3.1 System Shock video game series, on Wikipedia
  4. Deus Ex, on Wikipedia
  5. Ion Storm, on Wikipedia
  6. Information about the in-game codes from "0451" blog entry, July 18, 2008 on Hit Self-Destruct
  7. Hitman video game series, on Wikipedia
  8. Pac-Man, on Wikipedia
  9. Roman Mythology, on Wikipedia
  10. Colombian Mythology on Wikipedia
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Arcadia Demade" designer commentary by Jean-Paul LeBreton on his blog,
  12. Post by Steve Gaynor in the "Introduction time! Steve Gaynor, writer/Lead Designer of Minerva's Den" thread in the 2K Forums
  13. Fenella Woolgar on Wikipedia
  14. Agatha Christie on the Doctor Who Wiki
  15. Doctor Who on Wikipedia
  16. "BioShock 2 Podcast Episode Nine: Sofia Lamb" at the Cult of Rapture
  17. Judas Iscariot on Wikipedia
  18. Louis XV of France on Wikipedia
  19. BioShock 2 secrets from a level designer on Geek
  20. Deco Devolution: The Art of BioShock 2, Environments section, pg 82: "We really started with a tenement district and diner. Early on Jordan wanted to have some sort of diner. He was thinking of Edward Hopper's painting and the idea of a lonely character hanging out in diners Everything changed but the diner. Early on in development we realized we had so much content we had to break it into two maps so part of it went into the Pauper's Drop map and the other went into the Siren Alley map." - Alex Munn
  21. Edward Hopper on Wikipedia
  22. Revelations 18:2 on
  23. Schrödinger's cat on Wikipedia
  24. Quantum entanglement on Wikipedia
  25. Radio Messages: Ryan Amusements
  26. Wooden Nickels
  27. Classical conditioning on Wikipedia
  28. Playboy on Wikipedia
  29. Rita Hayworth on Wikipedia
  30. Shirley Temple on Wikipedia
  31. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Wikipedia
  32. Deco Devolution: The Art of BioShock 2, Environments section, pg 117: "The Kraken is probably one of my favorite assets in the whole game. This guy was one of those things that came to my memory from watching 20,00 Leagues Under the Sea as a kid and being freaked out by the huge Kraken that takes a sub. It seemed perfect for this map. It was a real challenge, though. To model this and texture it and get it in place was a couple weeks worth of work. It turned out really well. I would say that, even though it's not in the actual center of the map, it's definitely one of the centerpieces of the map." - Mat Tremblay
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 "The Secrets of Minerva's Den" article on Cult of Rapture
  34. Minerva on Wikipedia
  35. Idle Thumbs plays BioShock 2: Minerva's Den DLC with writer/designer Steve Gaynor [Part 1] on YouTube
  36. Charles Babbage on Wikipedia
  37. Ada Lovelace on Wikipedia
  38. Alan Turing on Wikipedia
  39. The Thinker on Wikipedia

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