May 30, 2012 Update: BioShock Infinite is delayed until 2013.
Feb 20, 2012 Update: Down to notches, because, well, we think we over-rated his level of power last time. Our mistake. Sorry, Ken!
Why He's Powerful
With Will Wright lowering his profile in the game development scene lately, Ken Levine has emerged as probably the most celebrated game design visionary at least in America and possibly in the world. Levine's reach isn't as broad as Shigeru Miyamoto's nor is his resume yet as impressive. But ask most people who follow gaming news or who makes video games which 2012 game they're most excited about, and the odds are good the answer will be BioShock Infinite. That's Ken Levine's game, the product of a long development cycle at Irrational Games.
Developers may wish they had Notch's bootstrap success, but to many who toil in big gaming companies, the better role model is Ken Levine. He works for one of the biggest publishers in the world, but, like Rockstar, does whatever he wants to do. That may not make him a leader of game development trends, but that sure is power.
No one expects BioShock Infinite to outsell all the other games of 2012, but many expect Levine and Irrational's project to simply be one of the smartest and best games ever made. No pressure! All he needs to do is make a masterpiece and, what do you know, that's what people are expecting.