Editorial: Transhumanism in Gaming: The Missing Something

Editorial_9_25I am missing something from the more transhumanist games following in the wake of earlier generations of cyberpunk themed rpgs. That something is criticism, ambivalence.

Whenever transhumanism finds its way into a setting, it seems to be portrayed in nothing but a positive light. As players and game masters we are presented with the chances, choices, and challenges, with the fun and excitement, the shiny toys and incredible abilities, and that's it. All the potential pitfalls, problems, and pains, all the imaginable dark sides of a transhumanist world or the way towards one are glossed over.

Sure, the rivals and enemies of the pcs may employ all the goodies as well, but the conflict there does not stem from the technology or the philosophy; guns do not kill people, people do. What I am missing is a setting that – without falling back on aged cyberpunk tropes – incorporates transhumanism but takes a somewhat dim view of it.

To be blunt (as rpgs are wont to be): What I am missing is a game where the transhumanists are the enemy. A game where the pcs are the humanist resistance, the unaugmented underground, bombing mankind back to baseline – one enhancement clinic at a time.

If you know that game I miss, drop by on the forum and tell me about it.

And while you're there, why don't you comment on the coming week's articles:

On Monday, Prime, together with 700Manifestations, will follow up on his previous article about Social Complexity in RPGs, this time with a full-blown alternate rules module to simulate social conflicts in your D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder games.

And on Thursday, in spite of my ranting editorial above, I will present the Poseidon Retriever (Poseidon Retriever German), a genetically enhanced dog breed for Blue Planet v2, a game that includes its share of criticism but spares little of it for its strong enhancement elements.


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