Saturday, January 4, 2014

Coffeehouses on Mars part 3

Yellowknife Bay Formation on Mars Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

\\ Weeks of research yielded two character themes for the game project: wizards and warriors. The goal of the game is to achieve certain levels of mastery in their character class. These levels corresponded to the seven skill sets needed in the Works (tool making, soylent and water production). A series of badges, magic powers and weapons were awarded when the student mastered a skill.

\\ A tight knit group contributed labor to the project. Artists created graphics. Musicians wrote scores. Engineers tested image projection methods into the brain using sound waves. Writers worked on story arcs.

\\ Mr. Watson gave progress reports at the weekly town hall meetings. This particular week, a soft-spoken elder named Jennifer, interrupted Mr. Watson's address and asked for a debate on the merits of the warrior character in the game. He thought it would be dangerous for impressionable youths to imagine themselves as warriors in a peaceful culture.

Elder Watson was gracious "Mr. Jennifer, let me understand your concerns. We have no wars in real life and having a teenager fantasize about being a warrior may tempt him or her to create conflicts offline."

Precisely, Mr. Watson, precisely. Might we substitute the warrior for an explorer character instead? Think about this. This underground city of ours is slowly filling up. Another few years and we'll be living on top of one other. We need a new generation of explorers. We need other canyons located and fortified for the next cities on Mars. One day, when the technology is sufficient, we will live on the surface. Let's take advantage of your game to prepare their minds to become the next city founders.

\\ A noticible sigh escaped the lips of some mothers in the audience. They were dreading the already troublesome youths fancying themselves soldiers. What if they choose to print real weapons instead of machine parts? What if online fights spilled outside the game? An explorer character seemed a better idea. Folks repeatedly affirmed this alteration in the project.

"Then its settled. No warriors, just explorers. We'll make the changes right away!"

\\ The volunteers back at the machine shop were viewing Mr. Watson's personal live video stream. Mr. Jennifer's change sparked of small debate back at the machine shop.

He has a point, said one musician, the last thing we want in our peaceful culture is warriors with no wars to fight. If they started acting out outside of the game, they'll be worst off than they were before.

"You are talking about a game." replied a bearded engineer. "Look, its just a game. A game they can only place once a day for three hours. A game that is supposed use repeative tasks to teach the kids skills needed in the plants. It's not like the video games back on Earth where you just kill for points. If they are so weak minded that a game will alter their view of reality, then.. well.. I'm sorry. It's the parents' fault! Its just poor parenting."

The musician shrugs and sighs, That's the elephant in the room isn't it? We're trying to compensate for bad parenting with a game. That's really what this is all about. I agree with you. That being said, since we are creating a parenting aide, we can't make it a bad one. I'm Ok with the warrior character being replaced...

They didn't notice Mr. Watson entering the shop,"I see there's some disagreement with the decision of the town hall today?"

The bearded engineer spoke up, Sir, we just spend so much time on the warrior concept, we feel like all that work would go to waste. Also, can't there be a warrior without a war? What about a martial artist theme? I remember reading about a class of monks back on Earth...

"Young man, this is why you must come to the town hall meetings in person, so you can give air to these concerns amongst the other families. We will abide by the ruling on the people until such time as it changes. Are you amenable to that, Eric?"

\\ Eric the bearded engineer nodded in agreement and continued to work. In a few hours, he and the other volunteers started filing out of the shop one by one.