How did the ADAM economy work in Rapture?



  • In the backstory of Bioshock, https://bioshock.fandom.com/wiki/ADAM is a substance that was discovered in sea slugs. It could be processed into Gene Tonics and Plasmids, that give people special powers. Tonics and Plasmids were sold at https://bioshock.fandom.com/wiki/Gatherer%27s_Garden vending machines.

    In-game, the player collects ADAM by various means, and spends them at Gatherer's Garden machines to get gameplay upgrades. But how did that economy work in story terms?

    The ADAM was produced by Fontaine Futuristics and Ryan Industries. Initially this was direct from the slugs, then from implanting the slugs into young girls called Little Sisters (which increased production), and finally by having the Little Sisters collect ADAM from the corpses of splicers (people who had themselves used Tonics and Plasmids). So why would the vending machines accept ADAM as payment, rather than Rapture Dollars like other vending machines? It would be like a Coca-Cola vending machine that accepts sugar as payment.

    True, Fontaine and Ryan would want to collect more ADAM if possible, but the public had no way to obtain ADAM except (towards the end) by attacking Little Sisters. And we know that Fontaine and Ryan didn't want people to attack Little Sisters, because they specifically created the Big Daddies to protect them.

    Obviously this has the gameplay purpose of forcing the player to fight Big Daddies, and limiting the number of upgrades they can buy on each level. But is there an in-universe explanation?



  • Nothing in the game indicates whether the ADAM spent at the Gatherer's Gardens by Jack are actually used as a in-universe payment mechanic, so all we can do is speculate.

    Maybe it is being used like your example, of "a Coca-Cola vending machine that accepts sugar as payment."

    The ADAM might just be used by the Garden to make whatever Plasmid is being provided, instead of stored, sorta like a U-Invent.

    Although, I'm not sure what we can conclude about https://bioshock.fandom.com/wiki/Gatherer%27s_Garden . It's got a funnel, and some dial or some other kinda lever. If the funnel is to take in ADAM, it seems a bit high?


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