Sunday, May 16, 2010

Marxism and RPG Design

So - most of us have read The Jungle. We know it contributed to the creation of the FDA and some major regulation of the meat industry.
But Sinclair didn't write it for that explicit purpose. He considered that a victory, I'm sure, but when he wrote it, he was trying to convert people to socialism.
Now, I'm a Marxist-Leninist (and we can talk about that, if you want). I have a particular outlook on how societies function, how groups and individuals do act, and are capable of acting, etc. In that vein, I'm intrigued by the prospect of writing books and RPGs that make use of Marxist ideas, but I don't want to be an Upton Sinclair - I don't want to try that hard to "convert" anybody.

One might then ask why I'd be doing it at all, if I didn't want that; the point is, I guess, I don't want to get emotionally fixated on that as a goal, and I don't want to write a screed that fails to be enjoyable/entertaining on its own merits.

That being said, I came across Spectre of the Beast - a game of civilizations undergoing sweeping changes. It seems pretty interesting - you use innovation, community, and idealism as cultural forces at your command, while you try to keep Hope high and avoid succumbing to the Beast (violence, really).
This isn't a complaint, per se, but it's a game that follows the perspective of Great Men and Women, and it's those folks who have the power to shape their cultures. Again, not a huge emotional investment in rebuking that analysis, but as a Marxist, it got me thinking about that Giants idea I had - one in which a whole community has to settle its differences and band together to defeat a common threat.

I see Giants in the Thicket as a potential, friendly response to Spectre - "like, man, those Great Men in History just push the last stone that starts the avalanche. It's not all about them, maaaan!" Something like that.

That's the goal I'm setting out for myself, but first I'm going to play Spectre with some friends and see what we think. It looks neat! ^_^ That'll be my first RPing in forever, too, although I'm playing Best Friends next Saturday at a local con (Ice Station Nerdly), and apparently it's "Gay Hairdressers Edition". How exciting!

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