I’m seeing/getting the first few complaints about Phenomenon 32 being socialist/atheist propaganda, and I already feel much better. I was wondering when that was going to happen. The atheist part is particularly silly, of course, given that the game very specifically uses quotes by Malcolm X (a devout Muslim) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (a devout Christian). Of course it also talks about the necessity for spiritual humility in the face of this vast universe we inhabit, and it does also prominently feature the thoughts of atheists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, but that’s the whole point: to represent a multiplicity of voices.
As for the socialist bit… well, you can see it that way. I didn’t set out to make a socialist game; I set out to make a game about humanity, and about the survival of humanity. Since I believe that our future is intimately connected to our ability to work together and put the common good above individual profit, you could say that the game represents a socialist point of view. How else can any kind of storytelling function? We tell the stories that are meaningful to us, that we believe in.
You don’t have to agree, after all. I don’t agree with everything I read or see. Nor do I expect to. One of my favourite books is and remains G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, a work of Christian philosophy/apologetics. I loved reading that book, just as I loved gathering all the quotes from various parts of humanity that are central to Phenomenon 32‘s storytelling. Why? Because the history of human thought is interesting. Because there can be great poetry in the thoughts of people who think differently than we do, and we should not ignore that.
That is not to say that we must agree with everyone, or hold that every position is equally valid. But we also don’t need to go all Christopher Hitchens and dismiss everyone who disagrees with us as an idiot. The beauty of human thought and philosophy is that there has always been a multiplicity of voices; personally, as long as those voices have something positive to say about humanity, I’m interested. I may think Ayn Rand was crazy and evil, but I’ll take ten Ayn Rands over one Harold Bloom.