By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 16, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 23 comments

Something I’ve noticed:

  • In System Shock, the very first keypad-controlled door you encounter has an access code of 451.
  • In System Shock 2, the first keypad-controlled door you encounter has the access code of 45100.
  • In Deus Ex, the first keypad (for the little com station just outside of UNATCO headquarters) is 0451.
  • In Deus Ex – Invisible War, the game was simplified so that you no longer entered keycodes. (One of many concessions made on behalf of console players, alas.) But you begin the game in room 451 of Tarsus Academy.

Deus Ex Invisible War – Room 451
In the second Deus Ex game, you begin the game in room 451 of Tarsus Academy.
These games are loosely related, in that they had many of the same developers and designers over the years, even as the company behind the games changed. So I suspect this is something done intentionally and not just a random numeric fluke. But I still don’t get it. Is there something special about the number 451 that I’m missing? Is this somehow a reference to Fahrenheit 451 that I’m not seeing?

For those that played Bioshock – did this number appear anywhere in the opening scenes of the game? Does the number 451 pop up in the opening scenes / tutorials of any other games?


UPDATE: Zerotime comes up with the goods in the comments below. 451 was originally a Fahrenheit 451 nod, and is now perpetuated for its own sake.


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23 thoughts on “Four-Five-One

  1. Viktor says:

    I don’t know about it all being related, but I could see that being one of the programmers/writers “go-to” number, the one they use whenever they need a random one. It may be someone’s anniversary or something. Or there may be an in-universe reason for it. ASI has a few meanings, too, so that may be it. Who knows?

  2. Ryan says:

    Yeah, it’s the local prefix for the area where I grew up. :)

    I do think that they are all references to Fahrenheit 451, though. You know, classic of sci-fi and all that. Or barring that, references to the earlier titles. Or possibly an Easter Egg.

  3. Slippery Jim says:

    **Minor Spoiler**

    I believe 0451 was again the first code you use to open a door in Bioshock. In the funeral parlour/crematorium.


  4. Zaghadka says:

    Of course, it doesn’t have to be a nod to Bradbury’s novel. It could simply be a reference to the temperature at which paper will autoignite, which is cool enough in its own right.

    It’d be an awesome easter egg if a letter on a nearby desk lit up on its own when you typed in the door code.

    Thank God they didn’t pick Planck’s constant as the code. ;)

  5. Slippery Jim says:

    **Minor Spoiler**

    UPDATE: Confirmed. It is the storage cupboard in the Twilight Fields Funeral Parlour.


  6. Google “451 system shock” says the conventional wisdom on the net is that it is a reference to Fahrenheit 451, but I did not find what I would consider a definitive source.

  7. Trogdor the Sane says:

    Supprised it’s not 42. That’s what I’d put…

  8. JFargo says:

    That’s definitely an interesting little tidbit, and I’d say probably not at all coincidental. (Confirmed by the link above.)

    I love it when little things like this are put into games. Good catch, Shamus!

  9. The 451 references are a favorite of mine, and are always fun to hunt for in a Shock game. In case Slippery Jim didn’t make it clear, the number does indeed appear in Bioshock on one of the very few locks in the game.

    The Fahrenheit 451 reference is symbolic for, say, System Shock to allude to Shodan’s absolute power over Citadel which leads to inhumanity, and your subversive, rebellious actions for the sake of life and protection of freedoms in the electronic domain. At least, that’s how I read it.


  10. DM T. says:

    0451 was the first thing I searched for in BioShock and I had my little smile on my face when it came up.
    Never saw any correlation to Fahrenheit 451 though, if someone would please enlighten me…

  11. Delta says:

    i would have used 42 as well

  12. Nentuaby says:

    Thanks for the definitive answer, Zerotime!

  13. Dhauzimmer says:

    I’ve recently been playing through the 1998 puzzle game “Sanitarium”; the code number for the first combination lock you face in this game is also 451.

  14. brashieel says:

    I figured it was a Fahrenheit 451 reference, but nice to get some confirmation.

    Thanks, Zerotime!

  15. wildweasel says:

    I just find it amusing what the log entry says in System Shock 2: “I’ll set it to 45100…that should be easy enough to remember!”

  16. Shapeshifter says:

    System Shock’s 451 is a bit of a reference to Marathon’s extensive numerology (especially the repeated appearances of the number seven). Then again, System Shock itself is a bit of a marathon reference.

  17. Davesnot says:

    I haven’t played any of these.. *ducks*.. but.. how much of a puzzle is it if you instinctually enter the correct answer?

    Why not 340… like HAL

  18. FhnuZoag says:

    I know someone who worked on System Shock, and according to him, there wasn’t any mention or reference to Fahrenheit 451. (After all, System Shock had little to do with government censorship, more a corporations overwhelming governments thing)

    As far as he can remember, it’s just a random number they picked. The Fahrenheit 451 explanation is just something players appended later on, especially when it appeared in Deus Ex.

  19. Rustybadger says:

    I just watched Stephen Hawking’s TED talk recently, and saw something interesting in it (highlighted area in upper right):

    I guess 42 is everywhere…except Bioshock!

  20. ArchU says:

    The opening credits for Sam & Max: Hit the Road (LucasArts, 1993) features an Illuminati 421, which is close but not close enough…

  21. Another_Scott says:

    Now that you are reeding these comments, post your own and try to get them up to 450 comments… Shamus can be the 451st!

  22. DM T. says:

    Ok, the 451 reference came back again in DX:HR so I had to double check.
    According to an interview with Warren Spector, it was the code for the door of Old Looking Glass studio, which was placed as a reference to Fahrenheit 451.
    Apparently, when the studio evaporated into the Ether, the developers – now spread out in various companies, still hold true to that studio.
    Another reason to stay tuned and watch the entire credits roll when the game ends…

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