And now for something… different

Forgive the abridged theft from Monty Python… Lazy titling while on a mobile phone to blame.

I’ve just read an interesting and affirmative piece in the New Yorker, entitled Citizen Khan,  which prompted this response from me.

“As a non-American I took much from this story; it reminded me of what has always been the great promise of US social & political ambition (and unfortunately also of how often that ambition can be frustrated). I was also alarmed at how similar US & Australian histories have been in terms of racist exclusions… think of the White Australian policies of the late 19th & 20th centuries. I do think the journalist might be mistaken when she claims that… “At the start of the Second World War, the United States was the only developed nation other than Germany to explicitly restrict citizenship on the basis of race…” Australia still restricted citizenship & this continued, one could argue, into the early 1970s.”


Trafficville – full draft written; time to let it sit

Finished first full draft of Trafficville- dystopian cyberpunk fiction re gaming, social media and so on; it is 24,600 words, give or take. Probably merde – I’ll follow Mr. Hemingway’s advice and let it sit in my cyber kitchen drawer for a couple of weeks before I have another look.

The final chapter reads:

Chapter Forty-Three

Q and A


So here’s a sampling of key Q and A we here at Phantom have dealt with during the beta trial and first three weeks of full release (English version only). Feel free to send us more – remember; this game works best with your interactions built in.


Q from Randy in Dallas… If this is meant to be so American I don’t get how come there are no African-Americans in here?

A: I guess you just never played any bits of Trafficville with Benny Goodman, who is Normans’ best friend. He’s just one (the main one) of 17 African American characters written into the mainframe of Trafficville, and he gets a Hispanic girlfriend. Can’t get much more Yankee-doodle than that.

Surely you must have seen at least one darker than average character at some time while you played Trafficville! And no, we didn’t have the police force round them all up, nor shoot them, though that was one reality we did contemplate. Benny does get mobbed by rogue police. We didn’t put that one in – that was outside players messing with the program; we love that Trafficville can take on a life of its own.

Q from Sissy in Duluth Minnesota… How come Adolf Hitler got into the plot; I mean, that was a bit weird?

A: That actually came through one of our beta players and we were as surprised as you to see him walking down Merrie Yngland Drive. But we let it run and it worked out as a game, didn’t it? Had to have good old Norman climb the clock tower, didn’t we, to re-set. Who’d have thought we’d get that lesson in – how easy it is to become a Nazi. We liked what the game taught us with this one.

Q from Wayne in NY… I felt like the game got out of control sometimes; I mean I felt like I was just reacting, not in charge. Was that intentional?

A: Yes, and no. We’ve written so many possible pathways into this (and the lightspeed tech means they’ll run at a natural pace) that we knew the game offered stuff we hadn’t even thought of; it was meant to be like life, after all, unpredictable. We just didn’t know how life-like it could be.

I guess if you’re a real control freak that might get a bit much – but most of our feedback has been that players love that the game doesn’t repeat itself… It is good to just go with the flow… 

Trafficville ~ USA: players and played

Trafficville posits a world – a game space – of shifting possibilities; an ambiguous merging of real and not-real. A series of questions, really: Who is played and who is player? Who is in control: of themselves, of others, of place and time? Should someone be in control? Who accepts the blame should things go wrong? Is anyone responsible for the generalities of what happens? Are ethics even a question in simulated reality (think practice for a bombing run)? What is programming and who is programmed? Who?

SO… here are a few bits along those lines from the draft novel (novella, more like):


I walk out of my house and I build a wall, straight away. There’s too much out there for me to bear so I put my headphones on and listen to retro stuff; after all, we don’t need no education.
I’m not the only one, dude. Retro nuts, some of ‘em even carrying those old ghetto blasters on their shoulders, but all of us funked up with headies, walking the roads. No need to self drive those hover cars or get a hover bus and be en-canned with too many other folk. Just us, in fact just you, yourself, walking the roads and tuning out the noise.

I put my headphones on
So I can shut out the rest of humanity
I put my headphones on
So I get to live vicariously
And when I’ve got them on
That blues world slips away.

Who am I?
I’m a game player, baby….



I like to play games. And that’s despite all the stuff they tell us about what’s wrong with on-line gaming, You know, the normal person plus anonymity plus on-line audience = idiotic behavior. They’ve got that right but you don’t have to play with the idiots. Me and my buddies (some of whom I don’t know from Adam, they might live in India for all I know, but they are still my buddies) – we rag each other but we don’t get nasty and shitty and call each other some of the stuff I’ve seen on-line and if someone new wants to join… Well, we vet them; they are on trial for a while. They know they’re on trial too, so it’s not a secret. We’ve got a good rep out there. Trafficville lets you block players, if you know how – and we do. Ryan, for example, has access to the town’s birth and death records and we could make a player simply disappear by erasing some records; it’s that easy, if you know how.
And why might you do this? Because- as one of my favorite on-line gaming commentators says – “Cheating, team-killing, entering a game but not playing, quitting before the game is over, and more, are all relatively common…’ This guru tells us that this stuff means that “normal people become f*5$^$# on-line.” And he’d know.

Girls don’t play so much as boys but I wonder if some of my gamer buddies are girls; there’s one called Des I figure might be a girl because of the way she plays – she seems to be more in touch with the characters feelings, that sounds sexist, I know, but she does and she plays different. And Des I reckon is short for Desilee (which is the name of one of my sister’s friends) or maybe Desiree and she – in the game – is this scrawny Japanese girl that moved to Trafficville after the Fukushima disaster; that’s her back-story. I reckon Des has got to be female; it’s good having a female player.