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a metagame



You're a gamer, you know the drill. It's the usual scenario: The evening of the apocalypse. You're living in a dystopian tech-world, steeped in conspiracy and post-truth propaganda, where protestors and refugees wail against the machinations of authoritarian regimes. Hacker wars rage across the planet, a pulsing electronic arms race, in which nation states and criminal gangs play a complex, high-stakes game of nuclear cat-and-mouse. Self-guided drones drift in the sick, dirty air, monitoring everything below with unflinching glass eyes.


This is a world that boasts impressive advances in the areas of science, medicine, robotics, artificial intelligence and space travel but increasingly, it's a world which belongs to the looming mega-corporations, for whom corruption and greed are entry-level qualifications. They carve up the greying body of the planet and slap a lurid sticker on her toe-tag, emblazoned with the naked lie, "sustainable".


For most of the planet's lifeforms, continued survival requires clean air and clean water, at the bare minimum. Many species also require healthy soil and a steady supply of fresh, green, sprouting organisms, just to exist. However, on this diseased industrial rock, the most vital and fundamental of resources are constantly injected with shocking amounts of poison and waste. Toxins spread throughout the flesh and lungs of the environment. There's almost more plastic in the ocean than fish.


Everywhere you look, politicians dangle from golden corporate strings, their heels dragging in the dirt over vital policy reforms. The entire planet is a delicate, ticking time-bomb, its mechanism wound by unwitting citizens as they go about their daily routines. Far too little value is placed on that most precious of all things... Life itself.


The planet's dominant species are humanoid, arrogant, gullible and much like toddlers in their emotional development. They are incredibly self-obsessed and capable of horrific violence, unnatural cruelty and extreme indifference. Their capacity for compassion, kindness and humility is equally great, yet all too rarely seen.


Citizens of the world's various societies are carefully divided along many well-tended lines. They are kept distracted and herded while they propel the money-printing machines. Many have become automata themselves, dead expressions and earplugs sealing out the other, while twitchy thumbs beam out a never ending stream of information to the all-monitoring Mother Brain and her many business partners. Imagine if one of those clockwork citizens suddenly stopped, like a cog come loose, their freshly woken eyes slowly witnessing the bitter truth: We're all living a lie!





Welcome to the game. This bleak setting isn't just a CG backdrop, carefully modelled to create the illusion of depth and texture. It's not a synthetic polygon landscape littered with the rehashed tropes and dramatic warnings of classic science fiction. It's Actual-Reality™ -- The non-virtual "real" life we all share. You know, the thing you experience every day, before you plug in and zone out.


We're all in that psychotic mess now, together, and we paid for it with our credit cards, our apathy and our love for convenient things in shiny packaging. So finally, inevitably, it happened. We all woke up in a cliche! The metaverse swallowed itself and now... Boom! Here we are in a massively-multiplayer sci-fi adventure, where the entire future is at stake.





You're part of the global protectorate now. The resistance. Remember, you're a player character, not a bystander, and there are lots more of us on team Earth. We need your help and the clock is ticking. What you do next matters. You have no idea how important you are!


As a species, we're either living and healthy or we're poisoned to death, along with almost every other organism on the planet. It's that simple. We're caretakers of this world and it needs triage, stat. The patient's flatlining. We have to wake up, wise up and change, drastically and immediately. This is about damage limitation and every minute counts.


Our combined role is to change everything, from personal daily habits to corporate practices and governmental policies. Fast! We have to put down the weapons, get over politics and egos and work together to prevent the ultimate global catastrophe. Everyone has to do whatever they can, at every opportunity. This is not a drill!





Deep down, you can see that life on Earth is an impossibly rare accident, as we float among trillions of barren planets in the cold, harsh cosmos. We're searching for life among the stars and at the same time we cull the miraculous life all around us. Exactly which theoritical alien race would welcome us? We're monsters! Yet there is love and beauty and laughter here, amidst the genocide. There is an intricate living ecosystem which can never be replaced. It's worth healing, cherishing and protecting at all costs!


You know this is true. You're a connected part of that ecosystem and your sensors are detecting grave and overwhelming damage. There's a system error, even if you can't quite pinpoint its cause. The world is sick and as a conscious being, you want to help. Of course talk is cheap and hey, saving the world? Really? How can anyone make a difference? What's the point of even trying? Luckily, you're not a defeatist who only thinks about losing. You're a player. You play to win and you let your actions speak for themselves, do or die, leaving your tag in the high-score table of human evolution.


Maybe, just maybe, we're the first and only spark of life in the entire universe. Perhaps we're at the very point of conception from which all life will spring forth. Maybe there are others out there, or maybe something will follow after us. Certainly, right now, we're the only living ecosystem for light years in every direction and it took billions of years to evolve. It would be too tragic to let it die.





We play the game just by making our daily decisions. How we interact with life shapes the game world and even the tiniest of actions can trigger much larger disruptions. Every thought, every word, it all has energy. We have a constant influence on the game world, simply by playing, so it's important to use that power for good reasons. Exert your influence wisely! The results and consequences may be unexpected.


Don't forget, this is not like other games. They were just practice. There's no replay now. No second chance. This is Survival of Life on Earth, live, and all of your actions have an effect here. (They always have!) It's permadeath, one life only, so make it count and it's a team-based event. We only win by collaborating and working together. There's also a gigantic countdown timer but nobody can read the numbers. We just know they're running out fast.


Okay, that's the situation. Now... time to show everyone what you're really made of, on your side of the screen. How will you change the world today? Live your own story, moment to moment. Create your own missions and share them. Help us to rescue the future.



(Gain extra points for style and creativity.)