During a Reddit AMA conducted by Bill Gardner, director of horror game Perception, Gardner was asked about the inspirations behind Bioshock, on which he was lead level designer, to which he responded:
"We had a team of hugely talented folks, so we drew from all over. Ken [Levine] was obviously the driving force behind most of the inspiration, but he was one of the most open CDs I've ever met. He always liked to be challenged and introduced to new ideas. I think one of the keys though was that the series drew from so many different wells. There's the Cohen brother films, art deco, etc. We were all over the map and I think it showed."
He also said that there was a specific influence in regards to the splicers. "It was always amazing to come into work and have people sharing new references. I distinctly remember JP, one of our designers coming in one day with some photos from Alcatraz. They were inmate booking photos of men who had clearly had a rough go making their way to prison. These helped inspire some of the feeling that went into creating the splicers for example," he explained.
What other influences can you see in Bioshock?