Brave New Rant

Over at Cinerati, Christian Johnson posted an excellent rant about my post here yesterday on my Brave New World RPG and Marvel Comics‘ upcoming Civil War event. While I enjoyed the essay (go read it, and then come back here), I want to clarify one of the comments I made on my own post, which Christian quotes. I wrote:

BNW was ahead of its time thematically. I don’t know if AEG would have wanted to pick it up from Pinnacle in the current climate. I recall having to convince a business parter or two that making the cover a burning American flag was the right thing to do. That was provocative back in ‘99. Today, I would have a harder time winning that argument.

As for art and life, I created a world that asked one of the questions that concerned me most back then. It concerns me even more now.

To clarify, I don’t know that I’d have a hard time getting someone to publish Brave New World these days. Heck, I could publish it myself if I hadn’t long ago sold off the rights.

My comment was about the nature of the game’s cover (which shows a burning American flag) and whether or not my then-partners at AEG (who are a bit more politically conservative than me, to say the least) would be willing to release the game today with that cover on it. I argued hard for that cover, as I couldn’t conceive of anything that better represented the themes in the game, and my partners—to their credit—saw that wisdom and went along with it.

Christian is right in that changing the cover would be an act of self-censorship, and I’d be against that. If you have something important to say, I think you should say it. But people do it to themselves all the time, especially when you’re working within a group of people who have different opinions.

Let me reiterate that I have nothing but respect for the folks at AEG. They’ve always been stand-up people, and I don’t begrudge them the right to speak their mind about these sorts of things either. We had an honest conversation about the cover, and we did the right thing—together.

The thing that stuck out at me most about Christian’s post was this bit:

It also reminded me that I am in many ways the type of person who Matt might think wouldn’t buy his game, and that pissed me off too.

Actually, one of the things that made me happiest about Brave New World is how it appealed to people across the political spectrum. The man who was in charge of sales at AEG at the time, Marcelo Figueroa, is as politically conservative as they come, but he loves Brave New World. Of course, he wants to play Delta Prime (the government enforcers) rather than the Defiants (the rebels), but that’s because the game doesn’t specifically espouse one point of view over the other.

My own sympathies may lie with the Defiants, but I wrote the game from many different viewpoints. Just about every book in the series has its own perspective on the problems of the day. Figuring out how to balance civil liberties against security concerns is not an easy question. I wrote Brave New World to help people explore that question and perhaps answer it for themselves.