Many voices

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.


  1. No comments on the topic, but having -only a few hours ago- downloaded a copy I must say I’m speechless. This is utterly amazing stuff. I’m deeply impressed. Thank you! No, really, thank you.

  2. Sarah

    Somehow, the words “crazy and evil” in the same sentence as “Ayn Rand” makes me squee with vicious delight. I wonder why…
    *unrepentant socialist*

  3. Ken

    I’m pretty much the polar opposite of socialist, but the finale didn’t bother me overly much. There were a few statements that I thought were a bit heavy-handed, but made sense for the character and the setting. Considering the utter devastation of the planet and near-extinction of humanity, I could understand the sentiment.

  4. My computer fried so I haven’t been able to play the game. I’m sad about that, but I expect I’ll get my chance in the future.

    Atheist? I don’t believe it is. You’re agnostic, last I checked. I doubt I would find the game “atheistic” in any way, but it wouldn’t stop me from playing it. (On a personal note, I DO find atheism silly because it’s the one concept that is truly unprovable; to say an omniscient being doesn’t exist requires you to be omniscient yourself, defeating the whole argument; and don’t get me started on omnipotence.)

    Socialist? I don’t know if I would expect it, but I wouldn’t object. I don’t believe any socialist government, now or in the past, that turned into a messed up, totalitarian state is because the system itself fails. I believe that, like every other system, it was corrupted to that point by the people who came into power. It happens in monarchies, democracies, republics, socialism, communism, pretty much every government system we’ve seen to date suffers from this weakness.

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