November 7th, 2020
Island 102Pathway 3 - Location The next thing to decide, before we start throwing people and politics at our new little world is where we’re going to land in our emergency space pod. The classic options include various forms of island and oasis, but there’s nothing stopping you from picking any sort of varied landscape or background you like, just bear in mind the different ways it will affect the exercise. 1. Island The simplest approach, and probably the one you’re already thinking of, a small but not insignificant island surrounded by endless oceans that stretch out as far as the eye and memory can see. You can add the possibility of expansion to other islands, instigating the natural human explorer instinct. This also opens the possibility of other societies existing, and to what extent you invent these others will add complexity to the exercise by stopping you from thinking of your people purely in isolation. Otherwise you can have an unpopulated water world, or an archipelago of natural resources. 2. Continent A village built on the banks of the Nile will differ greatly from one built on the banks of the Thames, or in the middle of the Sahara. The needs and wants of a people will be hugely affected by their geographical position on a continent, and should therefore be considered carefully. Continental life gives way to more variety of food sources, near-limitless space for expansion, the potential for colonies to form outside of the main settlement and much more. 3. Deep urban A very complicated scenario will develop from a commune located within an already established community. Food, energy, protection, religion, politics, everything will be affected by the ‘mother-country’ in which you are an enclave. Beware the thrill of revolution, unless you are specifically interested in what drives people to separate themselves from society, or reform it around them (even though, ironically, this is sort of the point of the whole exercise). I would generally advise the Island scenario, and put quite a lot of work into world building before you deep dive into thinking about what people are going to do. It could be helpful to draw a map of your island to help remember where things are. Depending on how you’re running the exercise a Dungeon Master style facilitator could construct a series of scale maps that will act as your plotting ground for constructing civilisation. Side Track - Town Planning Once you’ve picked your location, you’ll want to start thinking about who the people are that are going to inhabit this world. It’s up to you in what order you do these pathways (if you do them at all!) so you may want to move onto Pathway 4 - Population before coming back to this Side Track, which is more of an exercise in urban design that anthropological interaction. My advice here is that Urban Planning is an extremely important part of the way a society interacts, and should therefore be carefully considered either before you put people in, or as a part of the development of the society. Should you wish, as a part of choosing geography you may also want to design a town or living areas for your inhabitants, shaped either by the expertise of a town planner amongst the population, the common ideals of the governing body, or by yourself as the all powerful over-lord. A game like City-Skylines should give you a rough idea of what needs to go into contemporary town planning. Of course, the basics of energy, water, and waste, work in different ways for a rural agricultural community, but the basics of living upstream of pollution still apply, as do the balancing acts of economy, depending on what sort of monetary system your people might want to adopt. IMAGINATION Throughout I will refer to both real, and imaginary ideas. Your island does not exist, yet the people within it may. The human power of imagination is fuelled by a desire to understand the world in a way that makes sense to our questionable intellects. Theory, discussion, hypothesis, debate, they are all based in the imaginary, especially on these Islands. That being said, having something ‘real’ and concrete, such as an island plan, to base your hypotheticals off of can help with discussion and decision making. For example, saying ‘let’s build by the river’ might not make sense if the mouth of the river is surrounded by a steep gorge, or quagmires, so constructing a town upstream might be more advisable. On the other hand, there’s a danger in the experiment falling too far into the realms of reality. The ideal outcome of the whole thing is change of thought, not change of reality, though that may be the eventual effect. Another Thought Experiment Similar in imaginative power would the exercise of taking one aspect of the world, changing it, and assessing the outcome. Essentially asking, if X was Y, how would the world be different? Example 1: If the ocean was a flat 40 degrees centigrade across the globe, how would the world be different? Example 2: If chicken’s, upon a natural death, spontaneously combusted to the point of being perfectly cooked, how would the world be different? While one may seem more trivial, they both point down avenues of thought which you may not have considered. In talking about the warm ocean, you may come across discussions around the complexities of food chains and how eco-systems are adapted to their surroundings, or you might go down the route of ice-melting and higher sea levels. With the chicken, it might be that you examine the restaurant industry, considering whether naturally dying or humanely killed chickens would be the delicacy, or you might go down the energy route, or ethics of eating meat, or evolution, or any number of avenues that spark a variety of conversations. As with the Island, you may find the simplest option leading to a far more in depth discussion that you might have imagined. Don’t dwell on the details, use the information you have to inspire, not dictate.
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