playing antarctica ring one – home islands
chapter 20, playing antarctica ring 1- the isles
places: in the game.
physical description – arctic environment, cold and windy with snow and long nights, nothing grows. summers are short with long days and huge quickly growing things and millions of spawning animals. the game system map shows bedrock antarctica overlaid by 7 zones in rainbow colors. the thumbnail resembles the figure of a human. two main islands, barren, one settlement on each. the background is dramatic and the effects are realistic and the avatars are way cool and mostly freshly from wardrobe.
style: the isles are in grayscale washes with extremely thin or no lines.
things to pick up: tools from the boat, handmade implements, clothing, seeds, dried food, a handmade boat.
npcs: penguins rescue the players as they drop into the ocean. they are not openly evil yet, but lose a large percentage of players (by dropping them to dive for fish), who must try again. this keeps the numbers actually there lower than they could be. surly penguin npcs insist on fish bribes before giving information. the girl zaps them in a fit of exasperation, but they respawn hostile instead of snarky. snake spreads the rumor that she made them evil. when animals are asked to sacrifice themselves for food, penguins start up a black market in skua meat.
fairy: fairy’s dark night is in the isles, runs away at the beginning when it’s too much, gets it back by having great quantum sex with exkurt appearing as a dolphin?
exkurt: exkurt improves the game, doesn’t give a shit about players. boy and girl get him to open other zones on ring one. has sex with with fairy.
player: player on the edges of the first manifestation circle, part of group that builds small settlement. joins ship.
note: the boy and girl create level 5 antarctica as they play it, but they don’t realize this until later. they split up at the end of this ring and come together briefly at the end of each ring. he kills her and enters the next ring before she does every time, so her areas are backward and his become empire. all improvements are done by the players. these improvements spread thru the level depending on the skill of the creator (the improvements/places have health energy of their own, which they impart to the player who uses or gets near them).
snake’s religion – snake argues for the loaves and fishes trick. plays up the emergency, the threat to gameplay. argues against deputizing players the way they do it; wants more control, more orthodoxy. injects classical concepts into commandments.
boy – gardener; i’d rather be a tinkerer, it’s mechanical and you can depend on harnessed power (over). (peter pan?).
girl – she doesn’t want to be responsible for all those players
players: first a trickle then a flood of players washes up on the shoreline. players wander around not doing much of anything, kind of insubstantial and bewildered. among barren rocks they are like babies. players begin panic. they are cold and hungry and there is no food or shelter. a nascent movement toward violence and coercion that horrifies both boy and girl. and still the people keep dropping out of the sky. a team goes out to rescue them in large shells. players have very few props and few options in their personal environments, the grinds are to satisfy their basic needs: raising shelter, foraging for food, making tools, sharing, cooperating with the land, sea, weather, plants, seeds, animals. animals who help them and feed them until they can form weak bodies. soon they have gardens in front of every stone hut. a village rises. group-sufficiency is stressed. everybody struggles with developing their own energy, because it only works well in groups. as soon as trees grow players start making boats to leave the island. a warship comes by and recruits players to fight alien invaders (in response to his decision). players use their skills to help navigate the ship. if players decline this invitation, a storm blows up that casts their little boat adrift and they practice their skills avoiding hazards and navigating to shore. the two choices lead to different zones of ring 2
boy and girl: the boy and girl are little prepared for the influx. they stand around at first, watching to see what the players are going to do. they wonder why it’s all bare rock. then they realize there’s nothing for players to do because the level’s not finished. they dither. the crowd grows larger. the players are feeble and whiny, hungry and cold. they fear there’s not going to be enough to go around. they realize they are essentially gamemasters, swamped with players who need their help. the boy wants to let the kernel do the loaves and fishes thing in the emergency, but the girl wants to use the opportunity to teach them to fish. snake advises expediency. they talk about getting exkurt to make it rain hamburgers but he’s not answering. girl and boy have to do sleight of hand to feed multitude, materializing fire to make stone soup, asking the grass to grow and the fish to throw themselves out of the water, and growing a shell to the size of a cauldron. boy organizes hunting parties for food and she organizes building shelters. they witness new behavior in each other that sets them aback; he defers to her because she has the moral high ground. he soon develops a tendency to hoard, so she gives hers away and takes half of his, making him provide for half the settlement, for which he thinks he should be paid. more people. exkurt opens another zone. boy and girl fly to the island, causing a stir among the players, who can’t do this. get the second island all set up, using their real quantum abilities, as the first island fills up with people. they still interact constantly in their heads, but they’re now in different parts, so they split the leadership duties. the boy complains about having to be a gardener. the girl argues for prepping. what you value is what you learn – wisdom, power.
girl: when the problem grows frighteningly large, girl leads a group session of manifestation. snake objects. they invent a tradition to teach the best way to be mindful and together (living with fairies). she trains and deputizes this group to go out and pass the ability to all other players, along with ground rules (commandments) the boy develops in a hurry, with snake’s input making them more classically orthodox. she gets distracted handling this, taking time to interact with everything. without noticing, the boy and snake relegate her to a support role and organize around her they’re centralizing control, taking a percentage. she has a fit when she finds out (christ moneychangers). at first the girl enjoys the attention and acts like she deserves it, cavalierly accepting players’ last morsels and wasting them. surly penguin npcs insist on fish bribes before giving information. the girl zaps them in a fit of exasperation (they wither like the fig tree), but they respawn hostile. snake spreads the rumor that she made them evil. players react with fear. leading to spiritual crisis.
boy: he avoids things that require empathy and embraces action, reinforcing the macho father image. it’s more important to do what he’s doing and he thinks it natural that she support him. the boy decides that his role as tester is to find the weaknesses and exploit them. so he goes around trying to cheat. he vacuums up all the points and the health force and the energy of other players. he goes around hitting objects in case they have points. he feels like god, he feels like he owns the game. and since it’s only a game, he doesn’t care about his behavior. but since it’s not a game at all, he needs to test everything, to perfect it. the boy tires of survival and group-reliance and decides to go on a shootemup. maybe he finds infiltrators or them wandering around, and decides they’ve got to stop the enemy (but at this point it would just be helpful messengers from heaven) and everything follows from his fear of the enemy and his attempts to save the game by winning.
death: the girl dies in an accident (he’s negligent) and has to respawn in the water. the cheat codes don’t work anymore, so she has to physically travel to the portal of the second ring. he has already joined a ship with the boys (ridiculing the ideals) harnessed dolphins drawing it so they don’t have to use quantum energy, which is hard. she goes looking for him and gets swept away to the next ring.