Virtual Friends, Life, and Relationships: Part 4 -- Points of World View

Monday, April 23, 2007
As I reported before, I received some constructive criticism of one of my fictional characters that also extended into the entire setting in which that character lives. I found myself stewing over the remarks for several days, partly because I continued to be bothered by them and also because I greatly respect the person who provided them. The latter lent them considerable weight and impact.

In the end, I realized that the problem was two-fold: the character seemed underdeveloped and too "perfect" because of the setting and premise on which she was based. So, I took a closer look at the universe where she dwelled and came up with this realization: it's really all about one's personal world view.

Two of the few television series I watch on a regular basis (even to the point of purchasing them on DVD) are Star Trek (in all its incarnations) and Battlestar Galactica. I find the latter a really gripping piece of drama to the point that I've finally learned not to watch it right before trying to get to sleep. While both of these series are science fiction, there are some key differences in terms of the view of the world they portray.

Battlestar Galactica is gritty, often unpleasant, and tries for a realistic portrayal of its moral and political issues. Star Trek (in its various forms) also dealt with similar issues, but in its own way. The difference, I think, is in the setting.

As much as I enjoy the Galactica universe, it's not one I would want to live in. While I can identify with many of the characters, there's no one I want to be. (Okay, maybe Lee "Apollo" Adama. Maybe.) While the Dominion War era of Star Trek was (is?) probably not the most pleasant universe to live in, it was still part of a generally more optimistic future. In the Galactica universe, the best I might be able to hope for is to be a soldier. In the Trek universe, the possibilities are far more wide open.

What does this have to do with gaming and role-playing and writing?

Because I realized that in all of these things I create characters that I would want to be (mostly) and worlds I would want to live in (mostly). This doesn't mean that they're perfect, but I almost always try to have there be something positive about them—even if it's only a tiny, shining element of hope.

If they're not as gritty and flawed and "real" as others would like . . . well, they are entitled to their opinion. As with any other media, they are free to ignore it, not read it, not play with those characters, and build their own world that suits their preferences. It's all escapism after all. And, given the choice, I'll escape to some place where I want to be.
  1. I totally dig it.

    I personally cannot stand Battlestar Galactica. I don't like any of the characters; none of them is anyone I'd want to be friends with, or even live down the block from. And the universe is totally hopeless. I find myself rooting for the machines in the same way I rooted for the Aliens in Alien, just to get me out of the misery of the world the writers had created.

    I adhere to the school of thought that says hopelessness is what the nightly news delivers, but faith and optimism and uplift are what fiction is for.

    JMO, YMMV, but there you have it.