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Video Game Atlas: Rapture

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Once a week Art Attack will offer you a handy little travel guide to the fictional worlds of video games.

Name: Rapture, BioShock Series

Population: Several thousand at peak

Government: Laissez-faire Capitalism

Located under the North Atlantic approximately 270 miles west of Reykjavik, the underwater colony is the dream of Randian businessman Andrew Ryan. Believing that the social reforms started in 1930s America would doom the country to the same communist hellhole he saw in his native Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, he decided to construct a working man's utopia that would offer sanctuary to the brightest and the best away from government, societal or religious rule. Visitation is strictly by invitation only, and is done through the bathysphere network located in a hidden lighthouse.

From 1946 to 1952, Ryan built and completed his art deco masterpiece, and geniuses of business, science and art began disappearing from the surface world in order to ply their trade in a Libertarian wonderland without rules or regulations. This led to an explosion in amazing advances in medicine, robotics, communications, genetic engineering, architecture, weaponry and hundreds of other disciplines. For those who can pay, Rapture offers miracles.

For those that can't...well, you're out of luck. With no social safety net to speak of, Rapture boasts a dismal indigent population left over from the manual laborers that aided the city's construction but could not offer the same skills of more prominent citizens. Pauper's Row is full of these desperate men and women, many of whom rely on the intervention of psychiatrist Sofia Lamb to obtain any relief from Rapture's central council. This has led to periods of armed strife between the haves and the have-nots exacerbated by the propaganda of a revolutionary known as Atlas and the fact that firearms are available from vending machines.

Still, the city offers wonders for the well-funded tourist. Plastic surgery has reached amazing heights under the knife of Dr. J.S. Steinman, who says, "Beauty is no longer a goal or even a virtue, it is a moral obligation." The restaurants and nightclubs of the city are packed with talented entertainers and gourmet food and drink produced right in the city. Fort Frolic, under the management of acclaimed musician Sander Cohen, features concert halls, museums, performance spaces and amusement park rides, along with more adult-themed diversions like casinos, strip clubs and humidors.

The primary currency of Rapture is the dollar, but the real backbone of the city's commerce is ADAM. The unstable stem cell allows for the altering of genetic code and gifts users with any number of superhuman abilities such as telekinesis, hypnotic control, enhanced strength and even the ability to control animals. The overuse of ADAM results in madness and mutation, so prudence is highly recommended.

ADAM is produced by a newly discovered sea slug, which is implanted in the stomachs of young girls to increase the yield by 3,000 percent. Further production is amplified by having the girls scavenge blood from dead ADAM addicts, called splicers. Because the chemical is so sought after, the girls are in constant danger of abduction, which is why each one is accompanied by a hulking, genetically modified man in a diving suit called a Big Daddy.

Under no circumstances should you approach the girls, as any act that even seems aggressive will anger the Big Daddies to the point of attack. Their size and armaments make them more than a match for any normal man, and even the enhanced abilities of ADAM users don't do much damage. Their creator, Dr. Yi Suchong, met his end at the end of their drills when an overprotective Big Daddy felt he was a threat to a girl.

Getting stomped on by the Big Daddies isn't the only danger. Ryan's rule of the city has become increasingly tyrannical as the unrest from the revolutionaries increases. Smuggling banned items, for instance, is a hanging offense that is dealt with swiftly and brutally.

Rapture is one of the few places in the world where atheism is the official religion. Indeed, Christianity is strictly prohibited despite the fact that one of the most popular smuggled items is religious paraphernalia such as Bibles. Missionaries are warned to stay clear of the city. If the iron fist of Ryan doesn't get you, you still might end up on the wrong side of the pagan nature cult the Saturnine.

If you feel like the world has far too many taxes and rules, and your genius and potential are being stolen by the Man, then visit Rapture. Just make sure you can take care of yourself as well as you claim.

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