Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lies, damned lies, and Ayn Rand

Sometimes the talk pages of Wikipedia are more entertaining and informative than the articles themselves. Take the talk page for Ayn Rand's 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged". It contains the following comments:
Is it worth mentioning that the most recent reference in popular culture is the 2007 video-game Bioshock? It explored many of the same themes and includes other references such as character names (Atlas, Andrew Ryan).

The BioShock franchise has released a total of 3 games by now, with aggregate sales of 9 million copies. These sales appear to be slightly above those for the book itself (8 million), secured over a shorter time span and without extensive give-aways by a well-healed nonprofit. The video games probably deserve their own (short) section. 
The game is currently mentioned (though scarcely) in the Wikipedia article itself, along with a reference to an Economist article pointing out recent peaks of Amazon sales of the novel. The print article suggests a link between negative financial news and spikes in the sales figures:

Perhaps it's just low-brow me, but no-one seems to have mentioned that the original BioShock game was released for Xbox 360/PC in August 2007 and Playstation 3 in October 2008. These dates spookily coincide with the spikes in sales of Ayn Rand's book. The Economist article doesn't even mention BioShock.

Heck, I even went out and bought "Atlas Shrugged" on the strength of playing and enjoying Bioshock. But then, I'm not an economist...

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