Week Three – Word Research – “Future”

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Having now examined and expanded on “Future” as a term within a mindmap, I further narrowed the topic down to four more interesting and researchable terms: Overpopulation, Escape Velocity, Apocalypse and Colonisation. During this research post I will further examine these four subtopics and then pick the most interesting or thought provoking one to continue with.

 

Overpopulation –

“The condition of being populated with excessively large numbers.” – Oxford Dictionaries

Overpopulation is something of a relevant topic nowadays, given how much of an increasing real life problem it is. In recent years you would have been hard pressed to find a newspaper or online news site that didn’t have an article or two dedicated to how the Earth just has “too many people” now. Indeed, the human population of the planet is now larger than it has ever been, and at the time of posting there are 7,656,629,200 of us in the world. Not only are we running out of space to support the ever-growing population of the planet, but out of fundamental resources such as food, water and fuel too.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

It’s a very thought provoking topic, and as you can probably imagine there has been a great deal of media and artwork created about it. Take Overpopulation by Alan Guiget for instance.

His work here incredibly well represents the idea of overpopulation in general as well as how it relates very closely to the people of Earth. The people themselves interestingly all look the same, perhaps to represent just how many of us there are and how many are literally born every second. Notice how spaced out all the people are around the planet, but how each one of them has a “string” that ties them to it, presumably representing how we’re all clinging on to a world than cannot possibly support all of us – hence the massive amount of people compared to the relatively small Earth in the artwork. Overpopulation does a fantastic job of representing it’s subject as well as the massive problem it creates, which is the main reason I have included it here.

Despite the ever growing problem that overpopulation represents however, hardly any parts of the world really seems to be doing anything about it. China is one of the few exceptions to this, as they have a One-Child Policy set where parents who only have one child are granted monetary benefits as well as better child care and a whole host of other rewards, and parents who have multiple children get nothing. The policy has been somewhat successful, impacting urban areas quite significantly but not having much of an effect in rural ones (information gathered from here). However, if the rest of the planet fails to do anything then China’s efforts will likely be in vain. There are just too many people everywhere else for the One-Child Policy to really have an impact on the planet as a whole.

Overpopulation in terms of a game is certainly a thought provoking idea. It could be represented in a number of different ways – both literally and figuratively. However, a negative aspect of it is that it does narrow me down a lot in terms of research, not to mention while I find it an interesting topic I don’t find it anywhere near as engaging as some of the other ones I have discovered. Research also unfortunately did not change that viewpoint, as while it is an interesting topic it isn’t the best in terms of a game story or mechanic idea – certainly not one that I find really appealing. I find my interest drawn far more to my other research avenues, and for that reason I don’t think it’s likely I will be taking overpopulation forward.

 

Escape Velocity –

The lowest velocity which a body must have in order to escape the gravitational attraction of a particular planet or other object.” – Oxford Dictionaries

Now this is an interesting one. It’s quite a lot different as a topic than the previous ones, mainly because it focuses rather deeply on a specific thing rather than being more general. Normally I would chalk that up as a negative, but I feel Escape Velocity is a bit of an exception. For a start, not including its space travel connotations for a moment you can actually do a whole lot with the term – it could just relate to speed in general for example. Taking it with its applications to space travel, there is a lot you can research (both fiction and non fiction) and so a fair amount of avenues that can be gone down research-wise. It is of course a little narrower than some of the other topics, but it is also an incredibly interesting one.

escapevelocity

The physics behind escape velocity – TutorVista

Escape velocity in reality from Earth is 25,000 mph. Basically it’s the minimum speed that a rocket needs to achieve in order to successfully leave Earth’s sphere of gravity. In terms of real life applications, while researching the subject I found something incredibly interesting; Apollo 11 never actually reached escape velocity (if you don’t know – Apollo 11 is the rocket that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins used in 1969 to travel to the Moon). When leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, Apollo 11 hit 17,432 mph before settling into an orbit around the planet. This is because the Saturn V rocket didn’t actually need to achieve escape velocity, since it was going to use Earth’s gravity as a slingshot to essentially fire itself towards the Moon.

The force behind Earth’s gravity was enough to propel Apollo 11 all the way to the Moon, and as you can see from the diagram above, they used something called a translunar injection to not only get into an orbit where the force was enough to get them out of Earth’s gravity but far enough to catch the Moon’s too. It’s a pretty incredible mathematical feat if you think about it, essentially playing “catch the rocket” between two spherical bodies in space. I and I’m sure most people believed Apollo 11 achieved escape velocity to leave planet Earth, so I found it very interesting to learn that actually they didn’t (Velocity was still a big factor when the rocket took off and then engaged in the translunar injection though).

In terms of a game idea, Escape Velocity is something of a tricky one. It’s an incredibly interesting subject (at least for me) and I can think of dozens of different things I could do with it in a game right off the bat, but in terms of research avenues it doesn’t have the biggest range. The topic is essentially all about speed, and while I could find lots of both fictious and non-fictious examples and calculations concerning Escape Velocity, they would all kind of revolve around the same ideas. Still, I can think of a bunch of different ideas both mechanics and story-wise in terms of game design here – for example (just throwing random ideas here), using speed or motion as an assist in a combat or parkour system, having to achieve a certain speed or goal as part of a main mechanic, or even just teaching escape velocity or  space-related stuff as part of an educational game. There are definitely possibilities here, just not quite as many as other topics.

From the newly released “First Man”, a biopic of Neil Armstrong

 

Apocalypse –

An event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale.” – Oxford Dictionaries

Apocalypse is a very ominous topic, which to be honest is half the reason I picked it. It’s very interesting, not just for what it literally implies (i.e. destruction, end of the world type stuff) but also for the theories and predictions that have come with it. Take the Mayan Apocalypse prediction for instance. It was widely believed by a significant number of people that on the 21st of December 2012 the world would end, primarily because of how the Mayans calculated time.

If you don’t know, the Mayans are an ancient civilisation who lived in large temples and villages in South America until around 1800 AD before they died out. What was interesting about them is that they had an unusual way of telling time, particularly in years. For example, they believed that the world was created in the year 3114 BC. By their calendar, it was the date 13.0.0.0.0. And because of the somewhat unique way in which they told time, their calendar would again be 13.0.0.0.0 on the 21st of December, 2012. It was widely believed that the Mayans were a very clever and wise civilisation, and so people saw that their calendar essentially came full circle on that date in 2012 and wondered if perhaps the Mayans thought something was going to happen. Hence, the Apocalypse prediction was borne.

(Information gathered from here primarily)

It’s interesting to note here that no Mayan texts actually stated that the world would end in 2012, it just happened to be when their calendar came full circle. People then just filled in the blanks with theories of the world ending or the apocalypse occurring.

In terms of what actually would happen if the world did actually “end”, there were lots of different ideas and approaches. As it relates quite nicely to the theory above, I’ll use the 2012 movie as the example here.

2012

In the film, a massive solar flare gives off a large amount of neutrinos – so many that it is enough to heat up the Earth’s core. This then causes an earthquake of 10.9 on the Richter Scale (just to give an idea of how bad that is – the highest on record in real life is a 9.5) which then causes volcanoes to erupt and giant tsunamis to devastate the Earth. The human race survives of course, primarily on massive “Arks” as much of the planet’s surface is covered in water as a result of the tsunamis. Massive destruction and near if not complete annihilation of the human race are fairly central elements of an apocalypse in most fiction – and thankfully we haven’t had a non fiction one yet.

In terms of applying this term to games, it would definitely be an interesting one. Just off the top of my head, applying Apocalypse directly could lead to say a physics simulator or an educational mechanic perhaps, or even just a storyline where an Apocalypse is predicted or influences the narrative in some way. And this is just the surface level of the word – there are quite a few research avenues I can think of, and I imagine even more waiting to be discovered if I dived deeper into researchable territories. As thought provoking words go, Apocalypse is a pretty good one.

 

Colonisation –

The action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area.” – Oxford Dictionaries

The colonising of an area of land or people is a topic that seems to crop up fairly regularly – both in fiction and in real life. It’s a very interesting term, primarily because it can have good and bad connotations – Colonisation can mean the movement of our civilisation into the stars, such as establishing bases on Mars or the Moon. However it can also mean taking over or otherwise invading another country or people – take the colonisation of America for instance. The term can mean both good and bad things, which is a good thing in terms of research because it allows for some rather expansive as well as unbiased research. Indeed, there are a lot of potential research avenues you can go down with it.

One of the more interesting aspects of colonisation I found while researching it were the real life connotations. When I thought of colonising something initially, the main thing that popped into my head was making bases on other planets – in Star Trek for instance (don’t worry, that’s coming later). The real life applications of the word hadn’t really occurred to me. However during research they showed up pretty quickly, and the one that drew my interest the most was the colonisation of Africa by Europe during the late 19th century.

There were many reasons for Europe’s sudden interest in Africa at the time – take the raw materials for example. Because of just how large Africa was, there was an incredible amount of material such as copper, cotton, rubber and diamonds as well as a large market to sell them in that were just “waiting to be claimed”. There was also something of a rivalry going on between the European countries at the time (primarily Britain, France and Germany) and so that led each of them to try and claim as much of Africa as possible as their own – just to spite the others. “Owning” a large amount of Africa was seen as something of a bragging right at the time, with the country that acquired the most being seen as the greatest. There were also of course strategic advantages to colonising parts of the continent – mainly stopping the advance of China and other colonies such as Australia and India. The newly aquired African colonies could also be used as something of a bargaining chip if hostilities were to arise between other countries (information).

In fiction however, humanity’s colonisation goals were far more noble (which is a very interesting thing to note). In Star Trek for instance, humanity created the organisation known as Starfleet, that had the simple but honorable goal of seeking out new civilisations and boldly going where nobody has gone before. This organisation then became pretty central to humanity as they met other alien civilisations and formed alliances. Along their way, humanity colonised several planets but only ones that were otherwise uninhabited such as Mars. Some of the fundamental principles of Starfleet was that they would not interfere with developing races or behave in an otherwise aggressive fashion unless absolutely necessary. Humanity in this future was mostly peaceful (except when attacked of course).

As you can see from just the two examples I have looked into here, there are some very different ideas and methods that can be applied to the concept of Colonisation. It can be aggressive and immoral as well as peaceful and noble, and it is this aspect of Colonisation that I find the most interesting. There is so much you can do with the idea of it – especially in terms of applying it to games. The emotional ramifications of the concept alone inspire ideas – and the amount of research avenues I can think of just off the top of my head are countless (quite a lot more than at the start of this research post anyway). For me, colonisation is by far the strongest of the terms I have looked at so far here.

 

Conclusion

This will be quite a short conclusion as unlike some of my research posts, the decision here was fairly easy. After researching it I found I didn’t find the idea of Overpopulation interesting at all, which of course was an issue if I wanted to take it forward so it was pretty much decided then and there that it was done as an idea. I found it intellectually stimulating, but not interesting. While I enjoyed researching the concepts of Escape Velocity and Apocalypse, I found the amount of potential research avenues or even just idea generation paled in comparison to Colonisation. In addition, I found Colonisation far more interesting than the other two, particularly when I discovered both the positive and negative aspects of it that I hadn’t otherwise thought of. It was the winner here by far.

 

Colonisation.

 

 

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