X-Message-Number: 12632
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 23:00:47 -0500
Subject: reply to john grigg re: gaming & cryonics
References: <>

john grigg wrote:

> How about a "mad scientist" kit where the kid gets to play
> suspension team member and dissect and later freeze a sugary confection that
> is a model of a human body complete with inner organs. Later after the
> "cryonaut" is frozen the kid gets to eat him!!

Hmm. Is this really an image we want to conjure up in 
peoples' minds? ;-)

> >Anybody out there ever played The Game of Life? Not the
> >cellular automata one, I mean the one where you drive
> >around the board in a little car, trying to get a job and
> >build a family and buy a snazzy house. What if that game
> >ended with players trying to accumulate enough cash to
> >arrange for cryonic suspension, instead of just comparing
> >bank balances?
> I love that game!  You have a good idea but I want to add to it.  A player
> not only has to get the money to be suspended but then after that gets
> reanimated and then goes to a part of the board or a new one representing
> the late 21st century!  At this stage he "starts over" and the player gets
> the feel of how living in the future could be really glorious.  At this
> point the player must either raise money to help another player get
> reanimated or else perhaps reach a certain level of "self-actualization"
> points to ultimately win the game.  And maybe the game would be designed to
> be not about winning but teamwork.

This underscores one of the major hurdles to overcome in certain game 
ideas dealing with cryonics. What is that other plater doing while they 
wait for their game persona to be reanimated? Well, nothing! They get 
to sit around until somebody else does something to put them back in 
play. That's not going to be much fun.

To avoid this problem, a cryonics game would have to either not involve 
playing through that waiting period (all the players freeze and thaw 
pretty much at the same point in the game), or else *end* with getting 
frozen or *start* with getting thawed. Or it could avoid the whole 
issue, by focusing on other things (for example, the "Operation" type 
game idea would do this.)

> We could also have a game where you manage a cryonics organization.  You
> have to do p.r. and recruit, raise funds, maintain your facilities, upgrade
> technology, deal with your own board members as well as other organizations
> and try to stay financially and emotionally afloat.  And be careful or some
> of your board members may quit you and start their own organization!  In the
> meantime you are occasionally sued by the government, swamped with debt,
> ridiculed by scientists and to top it off you must deal with other cryonic
> organizations that see you at best as marginal friends or even as rivals!
> But of course this game would have nothing to do with reality!  Right?? :)

Haha! This is a good idea for some sort of board or card game. 
I've put more thought into the idea of a role-playing game so 
far, but this sort of thing is definitely worth considering.

> >Why not a role-playing game that begins with your modern-
> >day character being defrosted in a fantastically exciting
> >world of the future? Or a game like "Operation", where the
> >goal is to prepare the patient for freezing? And these are
> >just cheap ideas that put a cryonics spin on existing
> >types of games. The best cryonics game idea might not bear
> >much resemblance to any game that's already been done.

> There are already many good science-fiction role-playing games out there.
> Perhaps supplement campaign books should be written for the major rpg's that
> have a person from our time being reanimated in that game universe!  That
> way we immediately tap into major game system markets.

This could work with a generic RPG system like GURPS... You 
also mentioned Gamma World, Aftermath, etc... I'm of the 
opinion that these "dark future" games portray precisely the 
sort of future we do NOT want to use in a game meant to 
popularize cryonics. Not only have they already been done, 
but that kind of potential future is one of the reasons I've 
heard for NOT being frozen. It would be better to present a 
more optimistic future world that people might actually WANT 
to experience. The trick is doing that believably, and not 
accidentally removing any chance for excitement or conflict 
in the process. I have some ideas on that...

> I would love to see a well done computer game where you take the role of a
> man who gets reanimated in the future.  Have the game start in the present
> and follow him into the future.  Had I the resources I would bankroll this
> endeavor.  It would be more of a playful yet serious simulation and not a
> sci-fi shoot 'em up.  I would want the graphics and interactive non-player
> characters as real as possible.
> You as the player would decide what activities, people and areas to explore.
>   He could attend school, visit his hometown, meet his  descendants, travel
> to an undersea city or go into space.  I may be describing "The First
> Immortal" computer game actually!
> There could be no "goal" or you could score points by doing constructive
> activities that make you grow as a person.  Perhaps in a mature way romantic
> themes could be handled.  And when you do an activity your character is
> programmed to "respond" in certain ways to give the game a realistic feel.
> Now if we let the Extropian Institute membership help design this game it
> would be REALLY interesting.  It would be a competition to see if the player
> could ascend to being a god-like power while transhumans, posthumans,
> uplifted animals and artificial intelligences competed with him.

I've run two role-playing campaigns on this theme. The first one was 
much like you just described - the players awoke into massively 
powerful molecularly engineered bodies, and got embroiled in a 
political intrigue between the "Preservationists" who wanted to 
impose a quarrantine of sorts on the remaining non-transcended human 
population (with the full support and cooperation of the religious 
fundamentalist world government that had taken over control since most 
of the more progressive humans opted for transcendence and went off-
planet), and the "Interventionists" who felt that it was their 
obligation to bring transcenence to all mankind, whether they asked for 
it or not. Interestingly, when I was setting up the game I asked the 
players how they felt about those two different viewpoints, and they 
all sided with the Preservationists. Half an hour into the actual game, 
they all became Interventionists. But it was still a tough ethical 
dilemma for them, and that was what I was going for.

The other approach I tried was more down to Earth. The players were 
unfrozen remotely by Interventionists, in a hidden storage facility 
under the Nevada desert. I gave them much less in the way of cyber 
enhancements, and it was more like the "The Fugitive" with a small 
band of heroic outlaws on the run from the religious Luddite 

Neither game lasted long. In the first one, I tried to use a very 
simplistic, abstract set of rules to enable them to re-configure their 
nano-engineered bodies on the fly. It worked okay, but I was forced to 
make up a lot of new rules as we went, and it bogged down. Also, it 
was real hard to get the players comfortable with a setting as alien 
as I was presenting; I dumped a whole lot of new technology and wierd 
cultural stuff on them all at once. My second campaign was an attempt 
to tone that down, and it worked - but inevitably they figured out a 
way off-planet, and then I was back to the same problems I had in the 
first game... *minus* the flexible, abstract rules I'd used the first 
time to handle the super advanced tech.

I think the lesson I learned was that the rules approach I used in the 
first attempt ought to be combined with the situation I set up in my 
second attempt. That's what I'll try next time.

> I think the key thing is to give any game based on cryonics a sense of real
> wonder and a bright sense of hope for a glorious future.  Make the person
> playing realize that they want to make it there!


-Jeff Dee

"It is as morally bad not to care whether a thing is true 
or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to 
care how you got your money as long as you have got it."
-Edmund Way Teale, "Circle of the Seasons", 1950

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