The new Prometheus trailer has got me pondering a question me and my friend Gaz often ask – where are all the sci-fi games? You can’t move for horror or fantasy, but where are all the good science fiction roleplaying games?
Now, before the comments thread gets inundated with angry remarks, let me just say that a) no I don’t mean your game b) yes I’ve considered x or y game and c) I’m actually talking about the wider premise of science fiction, so stand down.
The reason me and Gaz inevitably come to is that the problem lies with the question, namely that the genre of science fiction is too vast to be properly captured in a single game, or even a single genre, really. Let me explain.
Do you want a game to replicate Alien or Event Horizon. That’s surely a horror game. How about Star Trek, Firefly or Mass Effect? Well that’s more of an adventure or space opera game. Star Wars? Heroic fantasy. Aliens? Military science fiction. Battlestar Galactica? Political and social commentary. And when you get into the realms of Iain M Banks, Arthur C Clarke or any Philip K Dick-esque sci-fi you’re looking at corners of the genre more esoteric still.
And how can anyone possibly capture so many diverse genres in a single game?
And that’s before we come to the question of science vs. fiction. Are you looking to tell interesting stories and have the science merely as colour, or is the science the driving factor of the story? How do you keep the science from becoming meaningless fluff or dominating the game with lists of equipment or endless made-up on the fly techno-babble?
So with all those questions in mind, I’ll rephrase my search parameters. I want a game to tell exciting stories set in space, with science as more than just colour but less than endless pages of stats for rayguns. I want the feeling of being out amongst the stars without getting swamped by setting or suffering from a planet a week. I want dead civilisations and the hint of aliens. And I want it to all have a used, worn feel, ashtrays in space as Gaz would put it.
In short I want Prometheus: the game please. Don’t make me write it myself.
And I was joking in my preface. I’m looking forward to all the comments on why I’m wrong, right or where I can find the games me and Gaz have missed all along.
*One day I will write a sci-fi Fiasco playset called Dick Head. Wait till you see the tilt table.