less indie more coöp?

The hardcore independent scene, where one person is doing everything from concept to delivery, is great fun for me. But it’s not in any way lucrative because I’m not good at everything. I really don’t want to get involved in conventional methods, though, with all the middlemen I don’t know taking a piece of the profits. And I don’t like the distance that comes with paying someone to do spec work.

I want to collaborate. I really want to be able to lean on a coöperative.

Consider a community (shared goals: real community) of people with various skills that can gang up to produce games. Maybe the organization sets the profit percentages to some standard so that everyone gets paid. But basically you’d have a pool of people you can collaborate with.

A user named tropical depression brought this up on the dice.camp Mastodon instance and I would love to develop it. Well, I would love for someone else to develop it: I am not a brilliant organizer of humans. But imagine a place where you could find that person who kicks ass at getting kickstarters out the door? Imagine a place where many of the people had a vested interest in your success and consequently helped hype your work? And all with keeping the risk down by avoiding pre-publication payments, instead sharing profits in a fair way? This would break down the whole publisher role and concentrate on creation and selling product.

Is anyone doing this already? Sign me up. I find the recent re-focus on traditional print-warehouse-sell very disheartening, moving us backwards from the power creators have with POD. It re-introduces risk that doesn’t need to be there and it reinforces boss-minion power structures, paying “staff” instead of collaborating with other creators and sharing the fruits of that work. The new old way makes me a marketer and I’m not a marketer. I want to leverage grass-roots enthusiasm, not develop a Twitter brand. I want to share and get shared.

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Juan Ochoa is so much better at this bit than I am. Why not let him flex?

I also don’t want to work for free. I don’t want anyone to work for free. But I want an artist I work with to come to the table with creative input, not just fill a spec. Artists, it turns out, are really good at art. They excel at colour balance, composition, and all that good stuff that they often set aside to meet a specification. Usually from someone who’s not as good as they are. What if, instead, that cover art was the best art a real artist could make based on their reading of the material? What if we worked together, not just on the same schedule, but to share the creative process in its entirety?

Similarly with writers and developers: what if we genuinely brought our creative energy together to write that text? I always talk about letting the players bring their creative vision to the narrative of a role-playing game — isn’t the logical extension of that belief in others’ creativity allowing others to share the conceptualization of a new game?

What technology would be necessary (I hate to burden actual work with picking technologies since technology is sexier than working) to collaborate effectively? Would a coöp need to standardize or just cope with everyone’s favourite workflow? Could it at least provide advice based on expert knowledge? It could.

And distribution: it seems like working with the existing sales and fulfilment experts would be valuable for everyone. DriveThruRPG and Indie Press Revolution could both benefit from some kind of relationship with an organization that consistently produces in a fair and diverse way. And that relationship could streamline the rough parts of working with those marketplaces. I’m sure there are others as well.

Could I relinquish enough of my own vision to let that happen? I’d love to give it a try.

But I don’t know where to start and I’m the wrong person to start it. I’d be a very enthusiastic member, though. Vocal, opinionated, and producing work at a regular rate.

sand dogs playtest

I released the first playtest draft of Sand Dogs the other day, though for a while it’s available only to patrons. But what exactly do I expect from a playtest?

Well this is pretty late in the metaphorical game. The mechanical aspects are largely already complete and delivered in The King Machine, released in September. So for the core mechanisms of the game I’m not looking for input. And really, for a public playtest I wouldn’t be looking for that anyway. I split playtest into two distinct categories and the mechanical tinkering I do with people I know and love and trust completely. Now you, dear reader, I love as well, but I don’t really know you and so I can’t really trust you. I think you’re wonderful but I don’t know who you are.

What you can do, however, is even more important because I cannot trust people I know and love and trust to do it because they already know how the game works. I need other people to tell me if the text works.

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This could be you!

This is impossible for me to do because as I read I fill in gaps with stuff in my head. If something’s missing I may never spot it. If things are not in a useful order, hell how would I know, I only see one page at a time and I’ve seen them all a thousand times already. For me the text is a giant amorphous mass and not a sequence of instructions. For this step we need fresh eyes.

 

That’s you. Really that’s nearly everyone that’s not me.

So if you grab a copy of Sand Dogs here’s what you can do that’s valuable to me:

Read it. I mean, obviously, right? I need it read. If you read it, take a moment to tell me whether it made sense, whether you had unanswered questions. Often at this time I get a lot of lists of typos — that’s super valuable as well, but not exactly what I need. I need to know if the text delivers a game and if so which game (so I can compare with my intentions). Step one is, does it make enough sense to sit down and try to play?

Play it. Well, we call it playtesting for a reason I guess. If you play it I want to know things like, did you have to go back to the text? What for? And most importantly, were you able to find what you needed? Easily? These things really come out in play because when you’re confused about a game in play it’s urgent and that’s when the text’s organization needs to lead you in the right direction. People talk about “rules getting out of the way” and this is not what they mean but this is more important: do the physical representation of the rules (the book) get out of the way and let you find the information you need and know is hidden in there somewhere? The text is a teaching tool first, but forever afterwards it’s a reference and it needs to succeed in both roles. Does it?

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Or this. When it’s done.

Talk about it. Genuinely independent games (by which I mean a one or two dedicated losers like myself doing everything to get the game to print by themselves) need word of mouth to survive. If you love it, please in the name of all that’s holy, talk about it. If you only just like it, talk about it and talk about what you would improve. If you don’t like it, talk about it and especially talk about what you like and don’t like. No matter how you feel, talk about it: it will make it better and it will get it heard about. Visibility (I know I mixed a metaphor: sue me) is so very hard to get. You are how it happens.

Tell me about it. I need to know. I put it out there for my own nefarious purposes and not just as a patronage perq.

Thanks fiends. I genuinely think the Soft Horizon series is the best work I’ve ever done. It’s for grown ups. It’s fun. It’s sandboxish. It’s weird. It’s easy and fast. And it works online.

And I love you. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

thinks we dislike

I don’t care what you dislike.

I mean, sure, if we’re trying to figure out together what to eat or what to play or how to fuck, then yes, I care.

But if you’re crafting a post on the internet, a broadcast to everyone, about how much you dislike something…well, I don’t care. But moreover I don’t understand why anyone would. And I don’t think they really do. I think posts about what we dislike are mostly attempts to get someone to argue about it — picking an already contentious position (and artificially so because really, just how much negative energy can we really work up about a game aside from straight-up offensiveness) in order to get some fire happening.

In other words, it’s just trolling. Usually low grade and sometimes even not self-examined. It does generate “discussion” but rarely useful discussion.

This should be read as distinct from criticism. Criticism is awesome. But “I hate GURPS” or “I despise rules-light” topics are just self-congratulatory nonsense. Hurray you have a nuanced and emotional negative response to a role-playing game or even a category of role-playing games. Now seriously, think hard about that and wonder if you really want anyone else to know it, let alone engage you on the topic.

Tell me instead what you love.

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I love this fucking robot toy.

Revel instead in what you like to play, like to make, like to run, like to draw for, whatever. Because that enthusiasm, even (maybe especially) when it’s also critical is contagious and productive. It lets other people admit their enjoyment. It lets people know not just what but sometimes how to craft something that certainly gives someone joy. I get far more from knowing a single example of what you love than a single example of what you hate because I am compassionate and want to make you happy — but one negative example is just the start of a list. Do you like ham? Hate it. Do you like turkey? No. When do we get to dinner.

I like blackened chicken. One assertion and we’re off for dinner. No enumeration required.

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I totally love this fish rug.

And honestly I dislike so very few things and like so many things that if you say you love something then there is a pretty good chance I am going to get in on that conversation. Help celebrate it, understand the bits the irk and the bits that work, and maybe even get around to joining you sometime to enjoy it. If you dislike something it’s almost certainly going to fail to affect me at all. Even if you hate (such a strong word to apply to a role-playing game, especially when it’s the funny dice or roll-under that you HATE) something, I’m probably not going to engage. First, having that strong a negative reaction to something so lightweight is a pretty good indicator that no interaction is going to go well. Second, it’s unlikely you hate something I care strongly about, and even if you do, well, see “first”.

Enjoying things and celebrating things, and criticizing those things, from a position of love, is productive. It builds up, it repairs, it extends, it expands.

Hating things just tears something down and makes someone, somewhere, feel bad. There’s enough feeling bad to go around these days, and it’s mostly about vastly more important things.

So tell me what you love.

getting more arts

You liked a post! That’s awesome!

I want to make clear that I’m not going to be talking just about me here. I am talking about me but I don’t want you to take away a guilt trip for inadequately supporting me. You are not obligated to do anything and you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing nothing. However, the established spaces for creatives to work have been steadily making it harder to make a buck creating things like comics, essays, games, and artwork. There are, however, things you can do to help claw back what we once had! And many of them are totally free. The only reason you’re not doing them is that you probably don’t realize the positive impact they can have.

So first, like the thing. Give it a heart, a thumbs up, whatever. That’s a minimum and it helps up front — a pat on the back is always nice — and it helps later. On it’s own it’s not much, it’s not a sale, it’s not even really a potential sale, but it’s nice. And it reinforces and amplifies later actions.

So like the thing.

Now re-share it. That’s usually one click. Painless. This is important because re-sharing is how the whole internet amplification thing works: the artist’s individual reach, the number of people their initial post gets to, is supposed to be the tip of the iceberg. The re-share, boost, whatever button is there to multiply the effect: if you really liked it and liked it enough to want more, you tell your friends (many of whom the artist has not reached yet). If they do the same, we have an exponentially growing awareness of the material. So if you like it, ask yourself if you’d like to see more. If you want to see more, re-share it.

And here’s the knock-on effect I hinted at: when people see a lot of likes on a re-share, they are predisposed to follow through on the link. So the like is not worthless, it’s just that its best effect is indirect.

So re-share the thing.

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I got nothing. I just like this picture. And pictures boost posts.

Re-share buttons only operate in the context of the medium you saw the material in. Another thing you can do that’s more effort but amazingly powerful is to pull the link out and post about it in another medium! See that thing on Twitter? Tell your friends on G+. Or wherever you post. Forums are great — they are little islands that the artist has likely never heard of let alone visited. Offer the material to a new context and you amplify the artist’s voice even further. A little more work to demonstrate your enthusiasm and it pays huge dividends.

So re-post the thing.

So far these things you can do are pretty cheap and have an enormous impact. The next thing you can do at a little more effort is to talk about the material or the artist or both in your own posts, tweets, whatever instagrams are. When you post original material about someone elses work you give it credibility as well as exposure. And their work becomes linked with yours. You start to share those eyeballs.

So if you have your own platform to shout at the internet from, acknowledge, discuss, review other peoples’ material. You get a content topic for the day and they get a boost and a little more credibility as something that’s demonstrably worth talking about.

Finally, of course, there is always financial support. Buy the book, put a buck in the Patreon. These are all great and they are really the final impact the artist hopes for: we are looking to pay the bills! However, we’re playing a numbers game — payments are from a percentage of people that see the original material. If you get more eyeballs, at some point you’re guaranteeing a sale even if it’s not your buck. So by all means by the thing but don’t feel you have to. Your re-share or review might reach enough people to make ten sales! It counts. It’s important. It’s appreciated.

And let’s talk a little about reciprocity, since artists help other artists as well. You’re not going to see all the re-shares that happen but when you do see one and it’s by a fellow artist ask yourself what you’ve done to help them. They spent some effort there to promote, engage, enthuse about your art. Give them a leg up too. You don’t have to want to buy something in order to be enthusiastic about it in public. Artists boosting other artists is a genuine statement of community: we are going to help each other. But that “each other” is super important — if one doesn’t see any reciprocity eventually the re-shares will stop.

So if you like a thing, rather if you like it enough that you want to see more tomorrow, please consider taking one extra step past the like button. Consider becoming a fan by aligning yourself with the artist and speaking about your enthusiasm. Did you have fun? Did you smile? Did you feel an emotion? Want more?

Now you know how to get more.

nazis are bad okay?

It’s that time again when people say game publishers (and anyone really) ought to be disavowing nazis. It’s very disappointing that we’re in a place where one has to do that. But I guess we do.

So look, if you’re a nazi, a white supremecist, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a…hrm, well, let’s try to do a little better at framing. If you lack the empathy such that you can hate or even just exclude anyone based on things they cannot change and did not choose, you’re not going to like my games anyway. And honestly, I’d rather you didn’t play them and certainly I’d rather you didn’t talk about them in public. I do not want to be associated with you. I don’t even want to be associated with nazis second-hand, as with MeWe which seems to be comfortable housing nazis but would like to re-assure us that they aren’t in the club and that if anything bad happens it will be against the rules.

Anyway, bottom line is that I don’t need that business and they aren’t going to like my games anyway. These games are going to be compassionate and not colonial power fantasies. They’re going to be constructive, empowering, inclusive and not…impositional (to invent a word).

So nazis can fuck right off.

And you already knew that.

oh those bundles

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Yay a space ship! Hurray!

So you’re probably aware that the Bundle of Fate 4 contains Elysium Flare. Hurray! These bundles are always good sellers and they give 10% of proceeds to a charity. Hurray! They don’t make a ton of money but they do generate a lot of units sold, and I always hope that some percentage of those will result in play, reviews, and on a really great day, investigation of other VSCA products. Hurray!

This Bundle’s charity is the EFF. Hurray!

You probably guessed from all those hurrays that there’s a dark cloud behind all that silver lining. Well not really, but sorta. There’s a cloud of drama. So I want to clarify what happened as far as I care (that is, I know things that are not interesting to my decisions and are private to individuals and I think they should sort that shit out, but it is not my place to do so) since you maybe got a whiff of it.

When I got notification that the Bundle was ready to roll with Elysium Flare in it I was told that the charity would be ConTessa, which I was stoked for. ConTessa is a well organized con-within-a-con that floats to various conventions and prioritizes games by women about women for women. At least that used to be the case. Now they have become move diverse, embracing LGBTQ and people of colour as part of their mandate. Awesome before, awesomer now. ConTessa is a whole bunch of people organizing well for a good reason and getting shit done. I am onside.

When I got notification that the Bundle was live, the charity was the EFF. All cool, I thought, something fell through, and now it’s EFF and not ConTessa. Honestly I was not interested in why that happened — there are a lot of people involved in organizing these things and I am just not going to stick my head in a bee hive any more. I’ve been there, been stung, got no honey. Both good charities, so whatever.

After that I got word that there were some screw ups. Someone objected to ConTessa, ConTessa got informed before the thing was finalized, and the Bundlerizer was in the unenviable position of having to either lose an important contributor or back out on a deal with ConTessa. And then they maybe could have handled that better. All in all there was a lot of poor communication resulting in a lot of unhappy people and some old grudges re-stoked at second and third hand since the first hands don’t talk. I was very disappointed. I feel like we should be past this sort of thing now. We’re not.

Anyway, I’m not going to point fingers. I think it was a clusterfuck and as with any clusterfuck, there’s plenty of blame to go around. I wish all would just own up to the disaster, apologize, find a way to repair relationships and move on. I am not holding my breath. Not my problem, though.

What is my problem is that ConTessa got screwed out of a decent donation. So if you buy the Bundle of Fate 4, you should at least know that half of the VSCA profits will got to ConTessa. If you have already chosen a side in this, I would beg you to reconsider. There are no teams here with clean hands. Declaring a side would mostly be in the same category as wearing your football team’s shirt: good for your cheering section and choosing who to beat up after, but of no particular value for solving actual problems. This problem does not need anyone cheering it on from the sidelines.

So please, buy the Bundle. Buy it even if you disagree with the charity change. Buy it even if you agree. You could choose to notice that if you have chosen a side then now, with my action, buying it benefits the other side. You could also choose to notice that now it benefits everyone.

It’s on you now.

 

more quantum communities

Recently someone I think is wonderful decided that they would no longer make games because they found that their community was toxic and in a way that affected them personally. I’m white, male, and apparently heterosexual so things that are toxic don’t impact me much (that’s what privilege is: it doesn’t directly affect me so I don’t have to care (but I can choose to)) and so I need to think about that. A person I like and respect is hurt. That does affect me. A really great creator is going to stop creating, at least in a field that interests me. That does affect me. My world is a little less wonderful.

But I of course map this onto my own experience in order to make sense of it. What if I was part of a community and it was suddenly revealed that I wasn’t welcome? What would that do to me? Would I stop making games?

And then of course I have to wonder, what would that community even be? So for people that are “dropping out of a community”, what is that community? Where is it? Because when I try to map this onto myself I just can’t — I’m not in any communities (apart from the meatspace one I live in) that I can see. Is this community a place? A facebook group? A G+ community? A discord server? It’s for sure some place I have never seen before.

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Wonder, wonder, wonder. Am I missing something or is nothing there?

What if the indie community decided that something about me was intolerable and they shunned me or worse just quietly hated me. What would that look like to me? I mean, honestly, it would look pretty much like it does now: for the most part no one is reaching out to communicate with me about making and selling games. No one’s banging on my door looking to collaborate. Are they all out there somewhere in a sekrit clubhouse that I don’t even know exists?

I did spend some time once trying to find the sekrit clubhouse. I never found it. I found a lot of forums and G+ communities and such but they are all pretty quiet. No one’s banging down anyone’s door looking to collaborate as far as I can tell. So what would it take to get me to quit making games?

I sometimes wonder if it’s about making connections at game conventions. That might be it. I don’t go to conventions as a rule (one I’ve broken a few times) because they mostly make me anxious. I’m not really interested in playing one-shots with strangers, and certainly not with my games which are designed neither for one-shots nor for strangers. Do these communities form out of real-life associations like conventions and then maintain themselves digitally somehow? E-mail chains, mailing lists, sekrit forums? I have no idea. Most of the networking I’ve done at conventions has been perfectly useless as far as building ongoing relationships. But I probably need to do it more to get an effect. And dress weirder. That seems to be a big factor.

So where are these places people are getting chased out of? Take it from someone who’s not in any of those places, someone standing outside them yelling inwards (but of course, failing to identify where they are, I am mostly guessing which direction inwards is): wherever that place is, it’s not a place you need to be in order to make games. People will come to you for your games. And your art. And whatever else you make. Not as many people, perhaps, but maybe, if that community is chasing you away, then there are too many people. Maybe you could trim just some of that, the toxic part of it, away, and still keep creating.

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Quantum because if you look really hard, really closely, really carefully, it’s not there. I probably shouldn’t have explained that.

I’ve always said that I create for me and my close, real friends on a kind of honour system with the rest of the universe: I trust that me and mine aren’t all that unusual. That if we are digging a game then there is somewhere other people that will too. I don’t have a brand to hang on the door so you won’t find them by looking inside, looking into your clubhouse for OSR or indie or whatever. You’ll have to look outside. But we are most certainly a match. So my gaming community is six people with no label. No brand. And you are invited and all you have to do is grab a VSCA game and play it.

So obviously I’m still confused. I’m still wandering in a kind of desert and occasionally I meet people fleeing from something or somewhere. I have no idea what that is. I march in the direction they came from and find more nothing. I am beginning to believe these things don’t exist in a way that I can sense them. That maybe we fabricate community in our heads and then get betrayed by a fabrication.

So here’s my advice: it’s lonely out here but it’s honest. If the positive attributes of a community are entirely in the model you built in your head and not in the actual community, yeah, you’re going to get hurt. Better to be a nomad with some close real friends.

i love you and…

…need you to know that what keeps these articles coming is the Patreon account. If you’re digging them and want to see more, please consider a drop in the bucket.

PATREON

The other thing that keeps it going is the sales of games. Maybe you’re not into nebulous donations and possible future things like access to playtest docs. Maybe you want a thing, a really thing, you can hold and read and play. Well, buying VSCA games also keeps us running.

GET SOME GAMES!

I’m thrilled by the engagement I’ve seen on these posts — plenty of conversation started on G+, Twitter, and Mastodon and that’s what I’m after! Keep it up, keep challenging me, asking questions, offering insights. I’m enjoying this too, but it’s you I’m enjoying.

 

a pet peeve about social media

Whenever you enter a new social media space, there’s usually someone who will explain to you the ways in which the tools are used by convention, in their small experience of the space, in a way that is contrary to intent, contrary to common sense, and apparently absolutely essential to their experience. This weird casual attempt to control my experience is usually met with derision. I try to rein that in: after all, sometimes it’s a desperate attempt to contrive a valuable function from existing bits, like building a racism defender out of Lego. Sometimes it’s a genuine attempt to protect themselves and that bears listening to.

But all too often it’s just an attempt to control, to imprint a culture on you, and usually it’s a culture that the person does not realize is local, tiny, and not what most people experience.

This is very often an attempt to control content. That is, a way to prevent you from being a whole person and only show the side of you that the other party is interested in. This takes the form of demanding “spoiler tags” around material that’s not about role-playing games or content warnings around posts about floral arrangement. It’s an attempt to force a space to be about a topic instead of being full of whole, real people with varied interests.

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This is my neighbour’s dog, Ben. He is not a role-playing game. He is not a life-changing disorder. But I like dogs. I also like cats. There’s a lot in me after 53 years of accumulation.

Honestly, if you’re not interested in the totality of the Brad experience, in all the things that I think are worth expressing, then it’s best if you don’t follow me at all. I’m not going to write only about games. I’m not going to write only about multiple sclerosis. I’m not going to write only about industrial control system security. I’m going to write about all these things and more: you follow Brad Murray not Brad Murray’s Musings About Whatever He Guesses Is Interesting To You And Definitely Not The Things You Don’t Want To Hear About.

That’s true everywhere I am. I present as a whole person and not as Your Favourite Topic.

You should too. If I read material you write, it’s because I’m interested in you. Not just your views on OSR game design or Kickstarter strategies, but also all the things in your life that got you to those opinions. All your pressures, all your desires, all these things inform all the other things. You should be a whole person to me. Whole people are harder to categorize, to lionize, to demonize. People that display their complexity and their uncertainty, their errors as well as their passions, those are people you connect with as human. I’m not here to entertain you. I’m here to be seen.

So please don’t tell people how to use Twitter or Mastodon or G+  (RIP) or whatever. I mean, sure, let them know you hate spiders and it would be swell if they hid those spider pics, but don’t tell them to stop talking about things they are passionate about just because you aren’t. Social media should be things you cope with and you carve your space out of, not opportunities to force other peoples behaviour into a shape you prefer.

Most of these software packages give you tools to control your own experience. Concentrate on that. If you need me to change my behaviour to protect yourself, that’s a conversation we can have and I will almost certainly be open to it because I do care about you (really, it’s a pathology of mine, uncontrolled empathy). But I think I’m a decent human being whose general behaviour does not need to be restrained. And so if you feel you need to restrain me, it’s probably better if you just don’t read what I write. You’re not going to like it.

This all relates rather obviously back to my old post about community from way back when I started this as well as to my thoughts about OSR and not OSR. All the way back to October! These things, these Facebooks and Tumblrs, these are not actually communities. Their topical subdivisions are not communities. They are tools in which we broadcast and hope to reach receptive individuals. I want to be seen but as a whole individual. I want to see you whole as well. Because when the light is on it’s obvious that I am really sitting here, alone, in front of my computer.

what’s with all this apocalypse

If I was really paying attention and looking to cash in on a trend it would be post-apocalyptic gaming. I know this genre because I grew up gaming in the 80s, and we were pretty sure we were going to die in a nuclear fire. I mean for real — we dealt with enormous levels of stress because other countries were pointing megatons of warfare at us just for being beside the sea. For myself, I was certain I would not live to see 30 and my behaviour bore that out: I did not seriously pursue my schooling, I did not care to work for some hypothetical future ease, and I didn’t save or otherwise prepare for a future that seemed increasingly unlikely.

DelugeTest - Brad Murray
It seemed for a while that a flood would be the next apocalypse and so I drowned the world for you.

Instead I drank and danced and fucked and, well, gamed. A lot. And an enormous amount of that gaming was training for possible survival in the future: post-apocalyptic games like Twilight:2000 and Aftermath. Our expectations about the future were highly masculinized and militarized. Then, a little later, they became much softer and we started inventing our own games about reforming communities in remote places while facing the consequences of nuclear war. That at least carried with it some hope. Maybe we could plan for the future but oddly we were empowered by the idea of erasing the present. At no time did we make games about making now better.

It took a long time to recover from that trauma. For a long time I didn’t even realize that I had been traumatised, that that constant threat of death had had a lasting impact on me. It eroded my sense of a future and I had to manufacture one, to talk myself into preparation for a later that in my heart I had surrendered a long time ago. When feeling nostalgic (I remain something of a nostalgiac) I even go back to that well — we published Deluge when it was finally obvious that the world was going to die by flood rather than fire. And yet even that was hopeful: the old world washed away, submerged, and a new and hopeful world of communities making something previously unseen. Something new. And maybe with the help of intelligent bears despite their perfectly understandable distrust.

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Now it seems more like we’ll just end ourselves by choosing bad leaders. Is democracy just the latest “divine right”?

Being old now, or at least old enough, I know that most deaths aren’t sudden and fiery. That happens, but the norm is slow, decaying, degrading struggles down the slope. Digging in your nails all the way, weakening, failing, and ultimately surrendering. And I’m not sure that makes for a ton of fun gaming, so I’m more nipping around the periphery–exploring not so much the sudden death of a culture but rather the slow struggle against it, right from the start, from the realization that something horrible is wrong. And that initial horror, the revelation of mortality — the wrong king, a shadow on the lung — while everything still seems fine and normal but the future has been stolen from you. There’s still years to go, but the end is revealed and it’s not a long winding road. The bridge is out, the brakes are gone, the driver’s a maniac, but it’s miles to go and you have a nice packed lunch.

It’s a phase. When we’re less certain of death, when we can see the bridge being repaired just in time, when the driver comes to their senses, well then there will be a new phase. Maybe then I’ll dream of space stations and faster than light travel again. But not yet.