Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Field of dreams

I saw something a day or so ago in moving from blog to friendly blog even more haunting than usual. Here it is, at Fire Broadside! in the fuller spectrum, a very fine gaming blog.

How do you feel about that picture? It's not there by accident - games designers are smart people, whatever we might sometimes imagine. Games Workshop are UK-based, a land with an identity still rooted very much in the rural and a liberal approach to land access. If you've ever hiked over farmland, you might feel a field is a funny place, especially when blood sugar level is low, muscles ache and higher functions yield to lower. Do we sense in such moments echoes of the wonder and fear of the savannah?

Humans have cultivated the land for 10,000 years or more. That kind of acquaintance gets under the skin. We've had a lot of adventures in among the crops or bound up with them, from rolling in the hay to struggling with 'pests', 'outsiders' and 'landowners', all of which terms are wide of the mark. Remember this Fighting Fantasy gamebook? Is that a scarecrow? Scarecrows are uncanny, and a fantastical setting doesn't help. Or maybe not so fantastical after all - national identity is often bound up with an understanding of land, and the landscape in that last clip does look familiar. Then again, national feeling can be just as powerful even when freed of the land, as George Orwell shows us here.

Sting presents a sunnier side, or does he? Here's a better version in my view - Sting liked it plenty - by Eva Cassidy. The shadows are definitely there if the sun is shining...

It gets into wargaming too of course. A while back the guys at Tales from the Maelstrom ran a battle at an agricultural facility in the 41st millennium. That's over 50,000 years.


Christian said...

In high school my players would ask, "Why do so many of our adventures take place at farms?"

I always thought it was an easy answer. Adventurers are good at kicking monsters' asses and farmers are good at, well, farming. When beasties show up, they need adventurers to help out.

Eventually we travelled beyond the farm, but for a So. Cal city kid, I always liked rural adventures.

Porky said...

And that's the farmer's place throughout history right there. A timeless story. If only the adventurers knew what a weight of determination they were going up against - true heroes!

Good point about the escapism too. Many of us probably just want to get away from wherever we are, whether it be through time or space. Porky's in no hurry to get to the farm though...