In response to “D&D Is the Apocalypse” from The Escapist Forum: It’s not all that surprising, really. One day, I was wondering why post-apoc fiction is so prevalent if there has never been an apocalyptic event. Then I remembered there was – the Dark Ages. The Roman Empire was a massive civilization, spanning what at the time was half the known world, and one day it ended. A single, centralized, highly technoligcal, democratic (or at least closest to democracy as it could be during the dark ages) civilization ended, leaving nothing but the ruins of their aqueducts and coliseums, replaced by several small powerless city-states of no greater importance. The Roman Empire may not have collapsed in a grand fashion, after a war or plague or meteor or zombies, but the aftermath is just the same. Since DnD and all similar fantasy works take place in an era with roughly Middle Ages technology, it’s obvious that post-apoc would apply – it’s based on the only post-apocalyptic period of real human history.
That is certainly Zak Smith’s best quote. It burnt into my mind when I read it. The idea of what monsters mean, really, and why our society (for instance) now loves vampires and is preparing for a zombie apocalpypse, interests me to no end.
Intriguing – on some level I’ve always been aware of the whole “nothing is as good or grand as that which came before” trope in fantasy settings, but I honestly hadn’t drawn the now rather obvious parallel with my personal favorite fictional universe until I saw it spelled out in this article: the bits about the treatment of technology (the anecdote about the pipe organ in particular) could easily have been describing Warhammer 40,000.
That’s always been one of the various elements of the 40K setting I really dug – the mystical reverence of technology without understanding, civilizations with plasma pistols that believe proper maintenance and ‘prayers to appease the machine spirit’ are equally important, the monolithic decaying empire venerating the relics of the ancient past while remaining leery of the implications unearthing it might have (mankind’s collective technological height is labeled the “Dark Age of Technology” by the inhabitants of the ‘modern day’ Imperium, not because it was a literal dark age but rather because the enforced ignorance the “Priesthood of the Machine” brought about was missing from it) – there’s just something about the backwards notion that “ancient means way better” that I find fascinating.
Which is essentially how fantasy settings like D&D’s treat magical artifacts: nobody wants a new sword when they could have one from the dawn of time itself – that one is obviously going to be way better.
In response to “Surviving the End Times” from The Escapist Forum: That was a brilliant read, very informative and interesting.
You have done well in your youth, learning skills which are woefully lacking in today’s generations. Personally, i think most kids should go camping and be given the opportunity to do the most basic of survival skills – build a shelter (even if this is erecting a tent), building and maintaining fire, learning how to keep themselves warm during a cold night, etc.
As i grow older (i’m only 25 and i’m saying that? I need to relax…) i begin to find myself wanting to do the things i missed out on as a child, and camping was one of those things. A workmate of mine is an experienced camper, and we went to a small campsite for a weekend. He had a massive tent we could sleep in, and a small, portable gas stove to cook on. I had to buy a sleeping bag and an inflatable mattress to sleep on (for my weary bones to rest >.O)
After a day of 4WDing through the park, we found a site and pitched the tent. He showed me how to start a fire, chopping the wood we’d brought with us, before we cracked open the beers and sat back, talking and drinking until the sun was fully set, my Ipod playing the easiest listening music i had on it (the OST from Battlefield Vietnam). He decided to forgo the gas stove and used the campsite’s hotplate to cook the steaks we’d brought with us. Even the tinned vegetables tasted good after they’d boiled in one of his camping pots. We continued to drink, emptying his esky and digging into mine, keeping ourselves warm by the fire and chatting, before finally we retired for the night.
In the morning i awoke with my teeth chattering. My sleeping bag had done an excellent job of keeping my torso and limbs warm – but my head was frozen. I had not brought a beanie with me to fight the cold from my skull. Quickly pulling my baseball cap on did nothing – it barely covered my head, let alone my ears or face, so i resolved to get up. I was extremely hung over, and it was a powerful struggle to dress myself. Luckly i’d brought a hoodie jumper with me, but it did nothing to fight the morning chill – i had to wear my thick bouncer jacket over that. I forced myself out of the tent and looked at the mist surrounding the site, marvelling at the beauty only for a moment before i was sick in the bushes.
The cold was biting at me, i could taste vomit in my mouth, and i knew i needed to get warm. I tried to start a fire, but every swing of the hatchet into the damp wood made my head want to burst wetly. Eventually i managed to get enough kindling together and arranged it like he had shown me, but the morning dew had made all the twigs and sticks we’d used the night before unusable as tinder. I resolved to tearing out the indexs from several books i kept in my car, so desperate for warmth i was, but it was no use – the paper was too dry, i didn’t pack it close enough or space it enough, the wood needed to be closer to it as it burned, whatever it was, i couldn’t get the fire going.
I resolved to sit in my chair, pulling my hoodie tight over my face and crossing my arms over my chest until my friend awoke, went and puked himself, then started the fire. I welcomed the warmth them, but felt…jaded? For failing at what i had assumed would be a fairly simple task. Fire has been in human history for thousands of years, and men have been able to start them with less tools then i had, and with less materials, yet one hangover and i was forced to freeze until help arrived. I’m certain that even without the hangover i would’ve been forced to do the same thing – my knowledge of camping, of survival, was and is still very, very limited.
It was a learning experience for the both of us. We both vowed never to bring such a large amount of alcohol with us the next time we went camping, and i promised myself that i would rectify what i felt was a letdown of the human evolution. I ate a whole loaf of bread on the long drive back – the only thing my turbulent stomach could keep down – and as i drove i realized that all the imagining of surviving an apocalypse would have been just that – imagining. If an invading force attacked tomorrow, i know that i would become a statistic because i would not be able to survive if i managed to escape, because i did not have the basic survival skills necessary to live in the wilderness.
Thinking about it, it makes you feel very vulnerable, wondering how you would survive if the power went out. If the water stopped running. If you were left completely alone.
In response to “Everybody Dies in DEFCON” from The Escapist Forum: DEFCON is a marvellous game. It has a brutal simplicity and the subject matter is chilling. I feel wrong for playing it as you are killing millions of people with a single move. Chess is an abstraction of war where large units and brutal violence are boiled down to wooden pieces making their way across the board. You don’t really think about the lives of the pawns as they die to protect your king as you don’t see them as people. For me the chilling part of DEFCON is when you first realise that you’ve stopped seeing your cities as people to save, but numbers on a board.
Slightly off topic did anyone play the “Wargames” game? It was an RTS for the PC.
I think my most emotional gaming moment ever was with DEFCON.
I remember I was playing a game online, and I was getting thrashed. I finally let off a salvo of nukes on Europe, and killed 100 million people in one fell swoop.
“Woo!” I exclaimed. “I just killed 100 million people!”
That was swiftly replaced with the infinitely harrowing “Oh my god, I’ve just killed 100 million people…”
I felt bad for ages after that. No other game has done that.
Still, it’s funny that Introversion’s actually just 5 people.
In response to “Every Game is the End of the World” from The Escapist Forum: My god, four pages of pure awesomesauce.
It’s amazing how you opened my eyes to my way of escaping this world in favour for another. Like most, I tried to fit in. I tried to pretend I like girls, was someone who was a heavy-clubber and some kind of out-door survivalist.
But I am not, I was born and raised in the DOS era, the love for gaming was nurtured by my own father, the game I grew up with was Wing Commander 3: Heart of the tiger. For me, it was an amazing benchmark in life. I enjoyed it immensely without any regret. I grew up with games and that love and passion never faded away. Giving up that for something that was alien for me turned out to be fruitless and I grasped back to my roots. Roots that were established long before I could utter one complex sentence.
So, I consider this article an amazing shout-out for anyone out there who thinks they are ‘lesser’ or not ‘normal’ in the eyes of the others. We are all humans and our difference is our power in life. If we all conformed to one main ideal this world would be bland and devoid of any creativity and the wonderful things that happened to us despite the bad shit.
That was a fantastic article. While for sure there are people that live both worlds, and while for sure what is said here applies to more people than the author seems to attribute to “we” (but you can’t really blame him), it rings so true in such an amazing way. I especially relate to the sensation of cheating on the real world. While you can’t abandon the people you know, how can you possibly swallow the world’s mandate on how you’re supposed to love, instead of embracing what you actually love? Ghandi said “be the change you want to see”, and the fact that believing in this world of constantly unfolding creativity is considered gaudy by so much of the population is astonishing and gravely unfortunate. Anything we can do to shake off what chains us to the vision of inadequacy they can paint us with is a welcome gesture, so that we can be free in what is really just human love and creativity, and more and more and more. Great article! Thank you. Also, this makes me angry I didn’t hunt down relic games after the guy who runs it found me in a bar in Vancouver and told me to come find him 🙂