Editorial: Shortsighted science fiction gamers

d6ideas dice3In all likelihood, this is once more one of those things which nobody gets riled up about – nobody but me. Anyway. Blue Planet v3 is scheduled to come out next year. That – and an online discussion I got into – has reminded me of something that happened a while ago:

A gamer who in all earnestness (I imagine – it was online) said, that Blue Planet was in dire need of a setting update, because currently it did not talk about social media. (If such an update were not forthcoming, the game would be obsolete.)
There are at least three things which annoy me about this – all of them boiling down to shortsightedness

For starters, I am more than a little suspicious regarding the indirectly worded claim that the future has to look like the present. Sure, sure, history repeats itself, humanity doesn’t learn from its mistakes and all that jazz (there is a lot of that in Blue Planet, by the way). Should we really take this to mean, though, that just because we use Facebook and Twitter in 2011, people will still be using Twitter and Facebook (with a lick of future-paint applied of course) by the year 2191? 10,000 years ago, people had trepanations for religious reasons – going by this logic, we should be still doing that today.

Secondly, it ignores the fictional history of the setting. Even if we leave aside the fact that the timeline of Blue Planet starts to diverge from our own somewhere in the 1990ies/2000ies and we assume that the whole concept of social media evolves the same way as we know it, there still remains the question, whether this concept would survive the earth shattering events of the setting. To the point: In the face of a worldwide catastrophe, claiming billions dead through famine and war, and forcing the survivors to give their last to continue and rebuild, won’t we have something better to do than tweet about it?

Lastly, the original argument was betraying a certain amount of ignorance about the very point it was focusing on. There are quite a few things you could criticize about Blue Planet, depending on your own views and take on the material also regarding the way it portrays (social) media and networks, but it is simply untrue, that the game does not include them. (Personally, I am of the opinion that it also does a pretty good job at it, especially in the light of this not being one of the core aspects of the game, while other settings, with a stronger focus on this and related area, sometimes provide less information!) Blue Planet may use terms that are unusual and projects developments different from those we see around us, so that the topic might not be obvious at first glance (I didn’t catch it at first as well), but it is there if you are looking for it – and if I gripe about its absence, I would expect some looking to come before.

Specific example, general problem. I believe that science fiction gamers (and games) with at least some hard elements to them would profit immensely by looking further ahead and stop being shortsighted like that.

The Red Star Character SheetFor the grand finale of our Red October special, Nogger has provided an excellent character sheet for The Red Star, Download The Red Star Character Sheet

The next week, though, will be free of science fiction:
English Articles
On Monday, we will present my The Racial Wheel of Life, a world building article for fantasy games.
On Thursday, yandere will get to show the last of his three alternate d20 Modern classes, The Mind.

German Articles
On Tuesday, there will be the German version of the Racial Wheel of Life (Rad der Völker)
On Friday, we will publish a German character sheet for Grimm, made by Shadom, who will also provide notes on the translation a matrix for key terms.


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