Picking up where we left off last week, we will be going back into the thought process and inspiration behind many of the Strains that exist in the Dystopia Rising universe. I’m sort of jumping all over the place, which is my right as my blog, so don’t anticipate that I plan to go in any sort of defined order. Normally when I write my blog entries it is because I have had enough coffee that my daily writing hasn’t actually burned off from the days work.
So going back into the commentary of the world, I also wanted to point out why this sort of commentary was important to me. Try zombie fans can attest to this, but the origin of the modern zombie mythos owes a huge god damned nod to one George A. Romero. As a master of zombie cinema Romeros films tackled subjects like racism, consumerism, and blind patriotism while giving he fans more than enough blood and corpses to keep them entertained.
So I felt, as a writer, I needed to be true to that spirit. I pushed little commentary into all of the Strains, faiths, religions, and even the threats of the world. Admittedly sometimes the cigar in the picture is just a cigar, however, other times it is a representation of trade sanctions against Cuba. To quote my own Baywalker, “Betcha didn’t know, but sometimes I’m wicked smaht’.
So without further ado, lets dive back into the strains of Dystopia Rising.
The Baywalker and the Yorker– Originally born in the drowned territory of The Mass and Old York, the existence of the Baywalker is nothing without the existence of the Yorker and vice versa. Both of these strains were based on the basic Boston and New York City rivalry that us Connecticut folk tend to be caught in the middle of. Sports, food, music… you name it. If there is a pissing match to be had between these two cultures chances are good that the urine is already flying.
However the story of the Baywalker and the Yorker was something a little bit more. You see, I am a huge fan of the works of Dr. Seuss. You can probably find pictures of me at the Massachusetts Dr. Suess museum all over the internet. The Yorker and the Baywalker were inspired by one of my favorite, and most scarring as a child, books from the good doctor… The Butter Battle Book. This was my stab at cultural division, tribalism, and multi generation of military machine fueled conflict. Two cultures of people who don’t even remember WHY the two cultures hate each other, but continue to do so because of the social division between the two. This is also part of the reason why the culture of the Old York book was focused on firearms, weapons, and the tribal nature that even keeps the gangs fighting against each other.
Now if I had originally had known that Dystopia Rising was going to grow into an international game instead of a local event I hosted for my friends, chances are good I would have written it more obvious that the culture of the York and the Baywalker is parallel to thousands of small tribal community structures in the world. BUT, part of the world of Dystopia is the unique flavor that the strains add to the world. So, instead of reworking the strain as a global phenomena I designed parallel relationships between different strains. The Solestros and their relation to the Pure Blood oppressors, the relationship of the Reclaimers and the Merican invaders, the tension between the Unndead Strains and the living… all of this grew from the same concept that created the Baywalker and the Yorker.
MERICA! – So the Merican is a really interesting scenario for me. It is a great example of the death of the author. When Merican’s were originally written they were designed to be a culture that was the most common Strain across the entire American continent. Merican’s, as a design concept, were supposed to be from all over the North and South American continent. Canada, the United States, Mexico, South America… the entire concept behind Americans was that we were the primarily found all over the American continent.
Almost immediately players started portraying cowboy type characters. The kind of ‘Yeee-hawww…. Murica. Fuck yeah!’ characters that exist to today. Now keep in mind, at this point there was NO REFERENCE to cowboys, southern culture, hats, coat, none of it. The only traits that existed were that they had become stunted by high fructose corn syrup (a highly over shadowed passive aggressive commentary about the nature of the toxic food in the US) and that they were a bit blunt to social situations.
What compounded it was that our game started getting visitors from Canada to play the game, and most of those visitors played Mericans. Each and every Merican that came in had giant cowboy hats, or trucker caps, drank shitty non-beer, and was slower than molasses in winter. What was hilarious was that a number of the Canadian Merican players looked at me and said ‘Canada isn’t part of America’. It was a conversation of about half an hour where I tried explaining that I come from the United States of America, and that America was a continent… that there was North and South America. Then one of my Merican players went hooting and running past with two cans of fake beer, cut off shorts, and a cowboy hat and looked the happiest I had ever seen him. At that point I decided to try and direct the flow of what the concept of a Merican was instead of defining it… since trying to stop the stereotype was going to be like trying to stop a black-Friday sales rush at Walmart.
So this strange sort of inception Merican’s being rude and self-defining Merica and Mericans happened.
Vegasia – Ok. I want you to take a minute and objectively think about how strange Vegas is. Out in the middle of the desert, surrounded by deserts and nothing for miles, is a shining oasis. A place that can be seen from the moon at night, a place that has some of the most massive water fountains in the world, where in the middle of a dessert giant buffets of never ending food is provided. Here, in the middle of nowhere, people travel in from all over to be entertained by performers and risk their money on the outside chance that they might make more money… which will probably be spent before they leave Vegas.
How the hell is this not already a blatant and strange symbolism of the human condition? What do you see out there? That giant dessert? HELL NO! I see a place where we are going to pipe in miles and miles of water to shoot into the air! We are going to have lights powered strong enough so that we can see it from outer space! Let’s get some of the biggest names in the world, out in the middle of nowhere, and fly EVERYONE OUT to see them. Let’s make it so that you can’t walk into a convenience store without seeing an automatic machine that takes your money in the outside chance that somehow you, YES YOU, are the special one that will beat the odds.
More to come in a few days time, with any luck I can get to the most of the rest of the strains before moving onto other items in the world.