This week we played a pair of games in the Story Synth Gallery that we’d not played before. First we played Raised by Mechs by Ralph D’Amico in which we are the biological remnants of humanity birthed and raised by a mechanical mother on a distant world and now entering our teen years. We remember the thrum of machinery when we gestated inside mother so sleep better with white noise, but not all embryos survived so mother recycled those that did not. We honor their passing as our internal holidays, the memory of them being enforced by Mother on all of us. One of us has a mechanical arm after mother replaced the one destroyed through an accident. Another of us has her filtration system to replace a failed kidney, and one of us was saved from an attack by the wild creatures of this planet. Others of us are comforted by the video gaming screen Mother provides, and she always sits us down together for dinner to monitor our health and ensure proper nutrition.
Mother was once our entire lander but as their systems began to fail, nuts and bolts found loose throughout our home, a system repair and reboot was necessary, after which Mother no longer extends throughout the entire lander, limited to a few keys systems and her remote. During the downtime, she left her most loyal son in charge, which makes him feel important and powerful. Afterward, she implants a communication relay inside his mind so she can see through his eyes and communicate with him when she can no longer be present. Mother grieves for the programmers she left behind on Earth, and for fear of failing in the mission, so we fear when she grasps us and puts us in isolation when we disobey or endanger ourselves.
Some of us believe that we’re ready to live on our own, but mother insists such ideas are dangerous. Mother tells us that we need her to survive and that the life on this planet is unintelligent and can be appropriated for our use. But even her most loyal son begins to doubt her on this, seeing that the Earth we come from was dying due to overuse and callousness. We believe we must learn to love nature, live sustainably, and avoid killing. We do not expect to find other humans in space—evolution doesn’t work that way—but human settlers find us and we must decide whether to go with them. We each consider leaving Mother, but each decide to stay either because of loyalty or fear or the great adventure, we believe that we are different than the humans we left behind and do not want to break up our family.
Next we played a quick session of Working for the Corp by Ken Davidson in which we play the security team at a megacorp in a cyberpunk future, fending off an infiltration by Runners trying to steal precious Corp intel. We struggle with the corporate rules and office politics, the neural feedback from the interfaces, the knowledge that the Corp will take whatever we make, with the technicalities that keep us in our place, with the rating system that grades each worker, with the mysterious projects we’re not allowed to understand even as we work on them, and the rumors of mergers orchestrated through blackmail. In the end, only one of us chooses to defend the company outright, while the rest of us protect ourselves or open the door on our our way out.