8.8 C
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ecopunk: Dungeons and dragons versus the environment


Related stories

WHO hosts the first forum on traditional medicine

The World Health Organization will convene its first summit...

Despite profit-taking, the price of oil still records a weekly rise

As the dollar rose and oil speculators took profits...

Kenya bans churches after allegations of killing worshipers who were starved

According to a government document made public on Friday,...

When Liam Hevey started to experience climate anxiety he wanted a way to make other people care for the environment as much as he did. So the autistic designer created a role-play game to save the planet in the hope players might continue the battle in the real world.

With players gathered round the table, a session of Ecopunk is under way, a role-playing game set in 2044. It’s like Dungeons and Dragons but with more politics and environmental collapse.

To play, all you need is the game book and some character sheets to keep track of your energy, skills and inventory. You also need a lot of dice.

Its designer is Liam Hevey from Nunhead in south-east London. He is autistic and grew up to think with a large degree of what he calls “political dissidence”. He didn’t like or understand the way the world runs, with its “irrational” norms and ideas that everyone else seems to accept.

This is a familiar feeling to many autistic people – if something in the world doesn’t make sense then it needs to be corrected and smoothed out.

It has led Liam to have a passion for environmentalism, and frustration at the lack of coordinated action to save the planet.

He refers to the present climate emergency as “the defining moment” of his life and in a dark mood he adds it could well be the thing that will “end it”.

Read Also  Yahoo pulls out of China over 'challenging' business conditions

Your imagination, and the rules, are the only limits in Ecopunk but the story is dark, dystopian and perhaps a little too familiar.

After failing to act in the early 21st century, the climate is in fast decline, and the human race is in a death spiral. You could find yourself playing the part of a disillusioned hacker with a love for tofu, a bitter soldier with a cybernetic arm, or a botanist with a knack for brewing. They are Punks, they’re out-of-step with society and they are fighting to keep humanity alive.

Image caption,Illustration of Liam, who doesn’t like to have his photo taken

Liam explains that the story starts with the crisis going into full swing.

“Politics has broken down and reformed and restructured around a new reality. We no longer live in this period of capitalism … and America has kind of fallen apart.”

Liam has imagined three new superpowers have risen to the top: The Central African Socialist Union, the Chinese Empire and the European Commune.

Each offers their own ideological response to the world’s problems: imperialism, neo-Marxist collectivism, or eco-fascism respectively.

You want complex world building? You’ve got complex world building.

The players, or Punks, exist at the edges of these nations, and, as their name suggests, they do not participate in the politics but still have to engage with them to survive.

Read Also  Biden rejects blame for shock Virginia election defeat

Like fellow autistic campaigner Greta Thunberg, Liam has suffered from climate anxiety which is now being talked about more, especially amongst younger people. And, like Greta, he too experienced panic attacks when he was younger.

Creating the game has helped give him some control back over the situation.

Months of writing and play-testing have culminated in hundreds of pages of rules, missions, mechanics and lore.

Liam realises that a numbers-obsessed man who enjoys socialising with people over dice and scoresheets is a bit of an autistic stereotype. It’s this aspect of role-play games which he thinks gives it that nerdy image.

But Liam says much of his interest is in the role-playing part of the game where you don another personality. It’s not mathematical, it’s more about slipping into the shoes of a character, to think how they think and interact in this fantasy world.

Image caption,Dozens of artists contributed to the artwork for the game’s full release, some of it matches the shiny utopia we often see.

He found that role-playing as characters who were, for example, charismatic or confident, helped him apply this to himself.

I put it to him that this sounds like masking, where autistic people adopt neurotypical behaviours to fit in, which can be very tiring and often means suppressing your natural autistic traits.

Read Also  Elon Musk says Tesla has not signed deal with Hertz

Liam says it’s not the same for him, but recognises the similarities and says role-playing provides a “safe space” for other people to practice masking

During October, Liam ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fundraise just under £15,000 for Ecopunk. Kickstarter is a website which, as the name suggests, helps people gather funding to start projects the community believes in. He was helped by Arts Council England, Shape Arts and a team of artists.

A basic version of the game is already available for free as a PDF download – the fundraising will go towards a “professionally produced” release with extensive artwork, and a physical version which he is keen to say will be carbon neutral.

Liam wants the game to make people think more about environmental issues and hopes players will leave the game and “fight for the future” like they did when they played.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome & exclusive content in your inbox, every week.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

InsiderBLM is a fast-growing business site with deep financial, media, tech, and other industry verticals.


- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Latest stories