How A Wall of Gum Got Me Excited For Infamous: Second Son
I thought it was pretty cool that my hometown of Seattle would be the setting for Infamous: Second Son, but it didn’t exactly send me into a frenzy. It isn’t the first time Seattle has been the setting for a piece of media and they tend to take a superficial approach to the Emerald City. Watch a national broadcast of a pro sports game in Seattle and you’d think our entire town consisted of the Space Needle, a ferry, and a dude throwing a fish at people. With video games constantly using real cities as nothing more than a lifeless backdrop save for a famous landmark or two, I didn’t think Infamous would be treated as anything more than New York with a different pointy building. By pure chance, however, I came across a screenshot of the game that may have sold me a PS4.
That, ladies and gentleman, is the locally famous Gum Wall in Post Alley (Called Port Alley in Infamous for whatever reason). I’d wager that over 90% of the people reading this have never heard of this wall. To be honest, I didn’t even know about it myself until a couple of years ago when I stumbled across it looking for a bathroom in Pike Place Market. It’s one of those cool little oddities that exemplifies the atmosphere of unity and creativity that help define Seattle. I was not only surprised to see that it was in the game, but that the team at Sucker Punch thought to make a screenshot out of it to help promote Second Son. “If they’re proud enough of their Gum Wall to make a screenshot out of it,” I wondered to myself, “then what else are they doing to give an authentic Seattle experience?”
It didn’t take a lot of searching before I found out they’re doing quite a lot. There are so many small things sprinkled around the digital Seattle. There’s the slew of local landmarks like Sonic Boom Records, the Lincoln Tow Truck, and a bigger version of the Crocodile Cafe. The architecture for the filler buildings is so spot-on that it’s easy to tell what part of town they’re in. Even the way the rain collects on the ground somehow feels authentic. Every screenshot released so far shows the love and care put into an authentic setting, but why did they make Seattle the setting in the first place?
A Foothold in a Real City
The Infamous series has traditionally set their games in fake cities based on real ones. The original game was set in New York based Empire City while New Marais from Infamous 2 used New Orléans as its template. Why would they suddenly create Seattle itself instead of using it as inspiration for a new town? In an interview with thesixthaxis, Game Director Nate Fox says “If we’re trying to make this believable universe, why are we not just going for a real city? What’s the point?” Though the main drive to make the switch to real names was for believability, making their first try Seattle was no accident.
Sucker Punch is based in Bellevue, a mere 15 minute drive across the I-90 Bridge. Seattle is their backyard and they clearly have taken pride in that. Everything from the surprisingly large slew of screenshots centered on game setting to the screenshot of Delsin in a 12th Man Vest released during the Seattle Seahawks recent Super Bowl run show a love for the town that’s infectious. So infectious, in fact, that I’m considering purchasing a PS4 just for Infamous: Second Son. It’s amazing how a single screenshot of a wall of gum took me from being a casual observer to considering a $460+ dollar purchase, but that’s what the power of shared city pride can do. I’m looking forward to the March 21st release date when Seattle welcomes its second favorite superhero, right behind Phoenix Jones.