Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Jack. What kind of games people play tells a lot about them. Some people like games where they hurt people. Others like to play relationship simulations. Some people like puzzle games. Then there are fantasy games of swords and magic. Some people like high technology science fiction games. And there are war games of course. My favorite games are in person. I love playing with people. Sometimes I’m serious. Sometimes I’m not. I just love to see how people react when I do something crazy. It tells a lot about the kind of person they are.
2 – Hello, my name is Charles. Gaming has advanced as our technology has advanced. From carved bone dice and carved wooden figures to automated mechanical machines that did all the calculations for us. Then the modern computer systems revolutionized the games we could play. A single piece of hardware could play thousands of games, and making a new game became something a single student could do in their bedroom. Or virtual worlds that took teams working for years to complete them. The modern computer networks revolutionized the kinds of games humanity could play.
3 – Gencon Done. Thanks to everyone who helped make this an awesome convention. I look forward to seeing you all again in the future. I sold some of my wares, I played some awesome games, and I’m bringing home some stuff that didn’t come with me. I love mixing business with pleasure, and Gencon is always full of pleasure. And now I think I’m going to go make a serious imitation of a log. Or maybe that’s sawing logs? Whatever. Sleep calls. See you all next year. And thank God I have a year to recover. ;)
4 – Hello, my name is Betty. I personally play games on many worlds. I’ve saved shards of myself in the networks of every world I’ve been to. Sometimes I gain permission. Sometimes I don’t. But one of the things I will always do is play games with the local population. I rarely play anyone of importance in those games of course. I’m rarely a rich and powerful NPC that most be defeated or bribed towards your way. And I don’t play damsels in distress. I prefer to be the bartender. Or the shopkeeper. I love to talk to people.
5 – Hello, my name is Jack. I like to play games with people. Tic Tac Toe. Checkers. Twister. Whatever pops up. I don’t much care if it’s virtual or in real life though. I know some people do, and I suppose if all you have is some VR goggles and haptic gloves it’s not gonna seem real. But with a good VR booth you can go anywhere and see anyone. And everything is real. The experience is real at least. And to me that’s what counts. I don’t care if the person I’m playing cards with is ten thousand kilometers away. As long as I can see them sweat, I’m good.
6 – Hello, my name is Charles. The computer networks revolutionized gaming with people able to play with others anywhere on planet Earth. For a time many thought that gaming would unite the Earth in ways that no diplomacy could. People became friends with anyone they could speak with, and found they were less different than many wished them to think. Gamers formed virtual guilds, clans, and companies with members from every country on Earth. Then the Second Great Depression destroyed the global network and shattered the promised unity before it could set it.
7 – Hello, my name is Betty. It’s amazing how much people talk about their real lives when immersed in a virtual world. Never is that more noticeable than in bars. Or dance clubs. Instead of going to a real bar, many people travel to virtual ones where they can look however they like and disappear into the anonymity of the networks. And then they talk to the bartender about all their real life problems. And the bartender gives them sage advice that makes them feel better. That is why I love to be a bartender. It gives me a way to help people.
8 – Hello, my name is Jack. I picked up the new Mechs of War game a few weeks ago. Yes, I’m aware that game was released three months ago. I’ve been busy. Now I don’t know about that new faction. They seem a bit gimmicky to my way of thinking. But then I’m a fan of the classic five factions. Especially the Federation of Taurus. Some of my best friends swear by the Concord of Cassiopeia though. Anyways, I can see the fun in the new faction. I just don’t know if it fits. I mean, it comes out of nowhere and threatens all the others at once? Come on. I just don’t see that.
9 – Hello, my name is Charles. The rise of advanced holograms and virtual reality systems allowed gamers to join globally-linked virtual worlds before the fall of the global network. Those technologies survived the fall and their use continued in the local networks that remained. Even the Cybernetic Wars couldn’t stop them from being accepted by gamers looking for more immersive gaming experiences. And many of those gamers became guardians of the networks against anyone who came to destroy them.
10 – Gencon. Gencon was fun. I got to play several fun games of BattleTech, I got to talk with Blaine Lee Pardoe who is an awesome author, and I got to advertise my little business. All in all that is a good con. I also came home with much swag. BattleTech dice, pins, and dog tags. A new shoulder bag from Fooly Cooly. And a fairy statue for my game room because that’s how I roll. Hehehe. All in all, it was the most enjoyable Gencon for me in several years. That makes it awesome in my book. :)
11 – Hello, my name is Betty. Most people were surprised when Dixie the Drug Lord Slayer was renewed for a sixth season. The writers had no plans for it, and in fact had already started filming a new series staring Twilight. But most of the actors came back for season six, and the Battle of Odessa was full of good stories. And the fans loved it. The season ended with Dixie and her little gang sitting on a balcony, relaxing with drinks in their hands, as Odessa rebuilt beneath them. They may have cracked a joke or two. And there was some good natured ribbing. It was the ending most fans wanted, even if it didn’t match reality.
12 – Hello, my name is Jack. I spent a lot of time in the Hyades Cluster after The War ended. I saw a lot of planets and a lot of people. Most of them just wanted to live. Some wanted to live large and in charge. Most just wanted to be left alone. Some wanted to be in control. I spent a lot of time figuring out who was who and nailing down the ones who just weren’t playing kosher. A lot of my fellow Cowboys did the same. That’s how we got our reputation.
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Second Great Depression threatened the economies that linked the world. The Islamic Jihad killed millions of people who did not ascribe to their radical beliefs. And the Cybernetic Wars threatened the communications networks that brought us together. Many nations avoided one or two of those threats, but at least one of them affected every society on Earth. And that formed the foundation of the divided Earth we live in now.
14 – Hello, my name is Betty. The first season of Twilight dealt with the former Rogue AI’s expanded involvement in the Cybernetic Wars raging throughout America at the time. It set a darker tone than Dixie, and visited many of the cities and States where central government had fallen beneath the threats of depression and terrorism. And then of course there was Twilight. She was not the bubbly and giggly cheerleader that Dixie played. Twilight dressed up in Goth gear and listened to grind metal. Everything about her and the show was just darker than Dixie. The tone worked.
15 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Cowboys fought hard against the Chinese and the Shang during The War. The Russians didn’t enjoy our time with them either. The Hyades Cluster citizens saw us as liberators in the first few years of Peace. They listened when we showed up. And when we weren’t there they began to call us. We helped arbitrate disagreements. And we weren’t afraid to take arms when that didn’t work. We never claimed to represent the law. We just kept Peace. As well as it could be kept. That’s the genesis of the reputation we enjoy now.
16 – Hello, my name is Charles. Russia’s Quantum Curtain. The Great Firewall of China. All over the world, those networks that survived only did so because of the firewalls that closed them off to the other networks. By the time we returned to space, humanity’s networks were riven into over a dozen separate systems. No American computer could talk with a Chinese system because the physical and software links no longer existed. It has been over three centuries and our networks are still divided.
17 – Hello, my name is Malcolm. Have you ever had one of those times where everything was going your way? When you had everything you needed to accomplish everything you wanted to do? Yeah, they don’t tend to last long. People find out and suddenly they’re your best friend in need of money. Or they have a fleet of warships and claim that you owe them money. Interstellar debt collection can get so adversarial. Now I’m not going to deny that there wasn’t some…questionable transference of funs. But that’s no reason to be rude. And I’d worked far too hard to surrender. So I only had one choice.
18 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight fought Rogue AIs in her first season. The show featured groundbreaking special effects for the time, bringing the networks to life in a way the audience could experience. Disney even sued over similarities it had to one of their properties. The Republic of Texas courts did not find in their favor. The court case made many people aware of the struggling series for the first time though, and flocks of new viewers checked it out. Most dropped it, but enough stayed for the duration that the network extended the show for another season.
19 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’ve traveled from one end of colonized space to the other in the years since War’s End. Some planets are happy to see me. Others are happy to sell me supplies and usher me back out of their space. Sometimes the citizenry are happier to see me than the local governments. That’s actually pretty common if I’m being honest. It try to leave places in at least as good a shape when I leave as they were when I came. Sometimes a lot better. Though more than once I can point to a former government official who would disagree with me. But hey. I don’t much care for governmental types, so that’s fine by me.
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. The open networks of the early twenty first century were defended by the best human minds and coders humanity had yet created. But humanity has never been as open with each other as our best minds wished we would be. Religious, racial, and national identities waged battles of closed minds with each other. And if there were many who made friends across the globe, there were more who made enemies. Words became their weapon of choice, and when those who disagreed refused to surrender, the imposition of silence became the next.
21 – Hello, my name is Betty. The court case was not Twilight’s only controversy in the first season. The final episode ended with the sacrifice of one of the main characters to save the rest of the team. Some rumors suggested improper relations between the actor and the wife of the studio president was the reason. The actor said Disney’s offer of a role in one of their new super hero movies was the real cause. The movie went on to be a blockbuster and she returned to the role for five more movies and two series, so many people think she got the better end of the scandal.
22 – Hello, my name is Jack. There are thousands of us Cowboys out in space now. We travel around in our little ships, hauling cargo and acting like normal transports. There’s a lot of work in small end cargo you know. Luxury foods for people who like real home cooking, high end electronics to less self-sufficient worlds, and even some rare gems or furs or other stuff. Almost all worlds can make their own food and other consumables, but they often aren’t fully satisfactory. People often want stuff they don’t make on planet. That’s how us Cowboys make money and make most people happy to see us. We bring stuff they want. And we tend to disregard pesky little things like import tariffs.
23 – Hello, my name is Charles. The global networks had broadcast everything we as humanity did for all to see. Music crossed the world in seconds, rumors moved faster, and our vices hid beneath the surface in hidden networks. Corporations fought software piracy, religions fought sinful expressions, and nations fought other nations. In the age-old demand of the offended, they called for the silencing of their enemies. And when the “hate speech” was allowed, they attacked the networks that hosted it. The networks that survived did so by offending no one, or by having better defenses than the others.
24 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up on the lakes of the Minnesota and Canada border. I fished in summer and winter, under warm sun or through frozen ice. I burned fires in summer nights to celebrate being alive, and on deep winter nights just to stay alive. It was all I wanted back then. I was never going to leave. Then the Shang came and ended that life forever. They forced me to change. No, that’s not fair. I didn’t have to change. I didn’t have to grow up. I chose to do it. I wanted to make them pay. Not the best motivations I grant you, but that was the genesis that made me what I am today.
25 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight lost one of its main cast members at the end of season one to a Disney buyout and other allegations. Not wanting to let a good scandal go to waste, Twilight’s ever-snarky studio advertised their next season as “the series that brought you Disney’s next great action star” and there were more lawsuits. The Texas courts dropped them and more people came to check out the series that was making such a controversy. The network laughed its way to the bank while Disney was not so amused.
26 – Hello, my name is Jack. The War forced changes in most of our lives. Even those who never raised a weapon in anger felt the effects of increased prices of civilian products. The combined industrial might of entire interstellar nations and alliances poured into building the weapons it took to fight the Shang and their allies. There just wasn’t a lot left over to make new cars, phones, or even toys for kids. People had to keep what they had working, because replacements were hard to come by. That took some people a long time to figure out.
27 – Hello, my name is Charles. The later half of the twenty first century became an odd mix of war and peace. The Chinese and Russians expanded their influence on all fronts, absorbing many of the nations around them. And so many others came to America and Europe for protection. But the Second Great Depression, the Islamic Jihad, and the Cybernetic Wars had affected them worse than the other nations. It simply took them time to recover. But once they did, neither the Russians nor the Chinese felt like testing them. They all had many new acquisitions to digest after all.
28 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Texas courts were always quick to throw out lawsuits against the Twilight series. The Hollywood courts ruled in favor of Disney though, and that set off a long series of court duels between the companies. They escalated during Twilight’s second season into a full-scale cyberwar when Hollywood hackers began bringing down networks that broadcast the series. Texas hackers responded in kind of course. It is ironic that a series based on a real world cyberwar generated another cyberwar based on it.
29 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Pre-War economy enshrined the idea of getting the next new hot thing as quickly as possible. If your phone was a year old you needed something better. People bought new cars every two or three years. Toys that broke just needed replacing. There was no need to fix anything. We were a throwaway society, obsessed with getting newer and better things. It was a real shock to a lot of people when The War stopped that trend. We had to keep stuff designed to wear out in three years for twenty years and more. It fundamentally changed how people looked at buying stuff. Maybe war can be good for something after all.
30 – Hello, my name is Charles. The end of the twenty first century was defined by the new Cold War between the Western Alliance, the Russian Federation, and the People’s Republic of China. While some nations remained neutral those were the three great powers that first built colonies on Mars, Venus, and elsewhere. They built the most powerful space navies, and they tested the limits of science in their quest to expand throughout the solar system. And it was the Chinese who changed everything when they discovered the secrets to hyperspace travel.
31 – Hello, my name is Jack. Third Fleet was our best, strongest fleet, built to take The War to our enemies. Aneerin counseled caution before moving, but the Western Alliance was desperate. We had fought the Shang and the Chinese around Earth and Alpha Centauri for two years without a decisive battle. Rumors from the Outer Colonies suggested similar stalemates. We needed to end The War once and for all. We needed to teach the Shang to fear us. We needed to send them running before we ran out of ships to do it with. So we attacked.