Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sample Idea

I have to say, I'm really proud of myself for that OWS RPG idea. I think I may make that the central example for my blog. Let's start designing. First, a little bit of background.

A lot of my friends on Facebook have been railing against the bill, attached to a military spending authorization, that allows the U.S. military to arrest and detail, for unlimited time, anyone in America suspected of terrorist activity. I hate this bill like I hate Twilight - deeply; it offends my sensibilities. It also violates all kinds of laws and traditions that make us the United States of America. It's also great fodder for a game.

Ignore the fact that we already have the apparatus for arresting domestic terrorists (it's called the FBI). Let's say the bill is signed into law. How do you define "terrorists?" Obviously, we know about the Taliban. But what if someone were to define the Sierra Club as terrorists? What if someone decided the Tea Party were a hot-bed of terrorism? It's a slippery slope. Because it's in the nature of organizations to redefine things to suit their purposes.

Marry this idea to the central complaint of the OWS movement. The government is bought and paid for by the corporations. As is the media. In fact, our representative democracy is really an insider's game of oligarch practicing crony capitalism. The cops are beating and pepper-spraying anyone who protests the current system, at the behest of their corporate masters. Right now, in the real world, this is a shady, invisible influence; we assume it's going on, but it's not like we have proof the CEO of GE is calling up the chief of police in Detroit and telling him to crack some heads. But imagine if he had access to the army....

So we've got a dystopic world run by corporations. I don't mean like in your typical cyberpunk novel. I mean up front and in your face. Congressmen have corporate sponsors. The President is bought and paid for. The little guy, us, we don't really matter any more. We're allowed to vote, to keep up appearances, but everyone knows it's a sham; your political choice is either Coke or Pepsi. You don't get to vote for Canada Dry. It's America, Inc. It's a corporate empire.

Except for a brave band of freedom fighters (that'd be the player characters). They remember a time, fondly, when people had freedom of speech and association. When they had a say in things. When they weren't treated as serfs. And they're determined to fight...

I think to further muddy the waters, I'm going to make this an island nation, like the one from the NBC series Kings. It was loosely based on the story of King David, but what I liked about it was the modern militaristic feel of the setting. I'm also going to shamelessly rip off the video game Mirror's Edge, the parkour video game. So it's an ultra-modern island nation ruled by an oppressive military-industrial complex, and everybody knows it. Kind of like Singapore. Only with chewing gum.

What do you play? A freedom fighter opposing the Powers That Be. What do you do?

* Break into corporate headquarters to steal vital information.
* Sabotage the Network TV broadcast tower.
* Smuggle political prisoners out of the country.
* Assassinate corporate officials.
* Blow up important locations.

Basically, you do anything you can to upset the established order. You're part of the insurgency.

Right now, however, I'm not entirely happy with this. There's more that can be done. It still needs that aura of paranoia (safe houses, double agents, midnight police raids). It also needs more to do -- what if you don't want to play a freedom fighter? Can you play criminals smuggling guns? Can you play the government? What else can you do with this game?

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