If I ever get back to writing my Libertarian Gamer columns, I'll be sure to do one on the Living Dead. Zombie flicks have had political overtones almost since the beginning reaching their pinnacle with George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Reason.com writer Tim Cavanaugh surveys three books on the subject -- including my favorite Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture by Annalee Newitz -- and offers his own thoughts on the subject matter:
Atlas stood crouched on the launch pad, his arms holding up the bulky form of a $250 million, 1.5 ton communications satellite. He shifted the weight easily, adjusting his grip on the titanium handholds mounted on the satellite's protective shroud, then spoke softly into his headset. "Launch Control, this is Atlas. Ready for orbital insertion." A smooth, crisp, feminine voice replied back. "Confirmed Atlas. T-Minus five minutes to launch. Be advised Farstar is in position as well, and ready for geostationary TP in 10."
The Libertarian Gamers Project is having a lively conversation about using the Star Wars campaign setting to run just about any type of game imaginable, from space opera to noir detective stories to medical dramas. I posed a counter argument that just because you could run a medical drama story in Star Wars doesn't mean that you should.
The idea that kicked off the hold discussion was Jay Hailey's proposal for an Age of Alderaan in which modern day adventurers find themselves in a galaxy far, far away.
A few months ago I picked up Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Nintendo DS, partly because I'd heard good things about it, partly because its a kid-friendly game I can play with my daughter, and partly because I'm always looking for games for my DS that are different from the norm. What surprised me is just how pastorally libertarian the game is.
In the last issue of the Libertarian Gamer, I laid the ground work for a libertarian campaign set in the classic post-apocalyptic setting known as Gamma World, laying down some campaign guidelines and destroying the world. Now it's time to rebuild it.
In the distant future, Earth will be in ruins. The land will have been ravaged by a horrific assortment of doomsday weapons, from nuclear bombs to genetically engineered super-viruses to hunter-killer nanites. Mutants -- both human, animal and things horribly in between -- roam the Earth ... and consider it home. They compete with the surviving human settlements, which must fight off starvation and mutation, as well as the other denizens of their far-future Gamma World.
So who should ride into save the day? Why the capitalists of course!
Monte Cooke's Arcana Unearthed is an alternative Players Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons that ditches the game's time-honored fantasy classes in favor of wholly new classes that contain echoes of their predecessors, but represent something entirely different. It does an excellent job of breaking the fantasy molds, and it's surprisingly well-suited for a libertarian campaign.
Reactions to the Libertarian Gamers Project have been largely positive -- in the month since I started promoting it, we've had 21 members join up, and a few good conversations over at the UncleBear.com forums, where people wanted to know what the heck a "libertarian" was. But there have been a few who've been uncomfortable with this mixing of politics and gaming.
For most gamers, I think gaming -- be it on the computer or with pen-and-paper -- is an escape from the real world. I don't mean that in any negative way; I simply mean that it is a chance for them to forget, at least for a time, the complexities of politics, religion, and current events, and just lose themselves in a reality where bullets can fly without consequence, and good always triumphs over evil, even if the nature of what constitutes good and evil is never closely examined. To bring politics into gaming is to sully this fantasy sanctuary with real-world concerns.