y dirty little secret is that I run a role-playing game once a week (zoom-style). Haven’t reffed in three decades but some of the players asked and it sounded like fun.
Back then, my world was StarWars. Everything was about light sabres and TIE fighters and that endlessly evil Empire. Black and white morality (literally) and (if you think about it) silly technology. The data center that the Rebels raided in that recent movie had the information stored in what looked like giant eight-track tapes. And even though flying space fighters around is really cool, it’s pointlessly stupid when you have robots (who could do the job better) at your disposal. Dogfighting in space? Really, the archaic technology base really bugged me as I looked at it with an adult eye.
Yet I’m finding the same problems with my Solaris universe. Based in our own solar system fifty years form now, people use pistols with bullets, not blasters. And flying between planets takes weeks (if not months, as if to Pluto). The system was dominated by a wave of Chinese corporate expansion before things collapsed into a new dark-ish age. Everything is local now.
But I realized that my explanations on why the game’s internet is so restrictive (Chinese control of information) is more to keep technology from running the game. If the players are searching for someone, there is software now (using CCTV cameras) that can find someone through facial recognition in short order. And really, by then, ammunition should be targeted-seeker rounds, meaning that “when a Motie fired, a Motie died”*. Really, technology ruins everything.
I still don’t have space fighters – what’s the point if you can only get into orbit with them? And my computers are restricted (so they don’t give the game away) – I still want players searching through the steamy underbelly of a spaceport for their target, rather than googling him. So yes, in the name of the story, I’m doing the same thing the StarWars universe did – I’m making my technology clunky and inefficient.
Hey, I gotta keep everything interesting, right?
* From The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle