by Greg Krehbiel on 23 February 2013
I’ve worked in downtown D.C. for quite a long time, and I like to take walks at lunch. Sometimes I walk to work from Union Station (after riding the MARC train), and it’s interesting the sorts of things and people you can see.
On some of my walks I’ve imagined a game that people in cities could play on their lunch breaks and during happy hour.
I’ve dabbled in programming and IT stuff over the years, so at first I thought about actually creating the game. It would be online, but also in a smartphone app. There would be real-world interaction too – almost like a role-playing game. You’d meet people for lunch, or at happy hour, and there would be strategies and intrigue involved.
Players would be organized by guilds, and you’d get points for recruiting people (or stores, bars, etc.) to your guild. You’d also get points by finding people in other guilds, or crashing their guild meetings.
I liked the idea, but I’m more of a writer than a programmer, so instead of actually creating the game, I wanted to write a story with the game as the background. Then maybe some programmer would read the book and decide to make the game! If that’s you, feel free, although I expect some minor royalties.
As I played with this concept of guilds and role-playing and so on, I was also reading some books about human nature. E.g., Pinker’s book The Blank Slate. Pinker wants to justify moral rules on the concept of a single human nature.
One thing he seems to have missed is the possibility that different sub-populations of people might have different natures – so maybe there is no single, human nature that could justify a single moral code for all people.
Those two ideas come together in The Hidden Village — the game, with its guilds, combined with the idea of “clans” with different characteristics. The clans are so different from everybody else, in fact, that they don’t feel any moral obligation to the rest of society. They think they’re a law to themselves.
So in The Hidden Village (the Kindle version of which is free today and tomorrow), Geof Franklin gets caught up in all this. His son Alek has been recruited into one of the clans, and Geof is worried that he’s involved in some sort of dangerous cult, so he investigates. But it gets him in all kinds of trouble.
-- 2013-02-23 » Greg Krehbiel