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07:13, 24th July 2024 (GMT+0)

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

Posted by Wildcard
member, 1054 posts
Sun 28 Apr 2024
at 19:34
  • msg #1

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

I'm not sure if this is a rp or just a writing exercise, but I kind of want to make a pop culture timeline for a fictional version of our world. Like we'd play pop-culture authors, game critics or whatever. Then we'd write out articles about these fictional franchises in our version of the real world.

The only rules I'd think I'd have would be

1.) Outside of pop-culture the history of this alternative universe is like ours when it comes to historical events and attitudes towards them.
 2. ) We cannot mention real world media.
3.) We cannot contradict each-other in this settings "Real World ",(I.E.: If one guy says The Incredible Bulk died in Marvelous comics in all of 1996 another player can't mention a comics story where he was alive in 1996).

Would anybody be interested in that? Or do you think this is less fit for a roleplay and more a writing board? Or have you ever tried a worldbuilding game before?
member, 84 posts
Retired Bureaucrat
RPGing since 1974
Sun 12 May 2024
at 06:33
  • msg #2

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

I find the idea fascinating. When does the timeline start? Also will you be including music? Fruit Eating Bears winning Eurovision 1978 and the whole contest changes, or all the Arab members of the EBU entering at the same time?

It probably is something of a writing exercise but if it's based around characters then it still works as a RPG.
member, 1056 posts
Sun 12 May 2024
at 15:16
  • msg #3

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

Thank you for the input Alcuin. I think it would start around the 1940s at the earliest, as it would include franchises in most popular media that are still relevant in this version of 2024. So anything before that would likely be literature or big legacy franchises like our the real world's Captain America, or Citizen Kane when it comes to movies. When it involves music, I'd think we would definitely include that, but without the real world musicians. So not exactly an alternate timeline, more like a whole Universe altogether.

 It is not exactly an Alternate Timeline. More like our whole pop-culture is all different franchises. I got the idea from this Alternate History wrietup: .

 After reading that I thought it would be fun to try a group alternate world project like that, but after refining my idea I think it might be good as an RPG about Game or Pop Culture reviewers on a website. I think the focus could be on both characters in our downtime, and for all of us to help build the world we write about. Just less a different person winning Eurovision and more all the bands in Eurovision are different and made whole different music that changed the influence in American and world pop-culture.
subscriber, 226 posts
Sun 12 May 2024
at 18:48
  • msg #4

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

I think it could either work as the complete focus of a collaborative writing experience/message board (so effectively the equivalent of a the SCP wiki, with contributors only expressing themselves in the form of recorded material), or indeed as a fun mental exercise in the background of another Alternative Universe game where it's not the focus (so the equivalent of some of the pop culture plays that appeared in Watchmen and the like).

Having something between the two (i.e. playing a game as critics) would to me be fairly risky, both because I don't necessarily see where you'd get your drama or plot from, and indeed I would worry that most of your player interaction and conflict would be PvP arguments about random bits of canon and I can't honestly claim that would seem particularly attractive to me! You could potentially put it as a slice of life game set within a publishing house, but then again, I'd say that the pop culture would be the background and the in jokes rather than the focus of drama itself.

What I would probably add is that:

1.) Outside of pop-culture the history of this alternative universe is like ours when it comes to historical events and attitudes towards them.

might be a bit of a tough ask given the intertwining of pop culture with political/historical events. If you're not allowed to mention IRL media, then history potentially takes a different turn unless the in-game media is basically the same thing with a different name (so the protest songs of Dylan Bob, the cultural effects of Space Meander etc.), and you also then have to decide where the barriers sit for people who transcend the media/political spectrum (so how do you justify the Reagan presidency if he wasn't a semi-popular actor?)

I'm not saying it's impossible, and indeed if you wanted to take the inspiration from the Player Two Start Approach, I think you could write a really interesting game set from that divergent point and have new players/characters every generation building on the canon of the previous one (with the changes in media increasingly affecting global politics and culture afterwards until it diverges massively from our own), but whether that'swhat you're looking for is another question!
member, 3088 posts
Sun 12 May 2024
at 19:47
  • msg #5

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

The bottom line here is.

If you lookign for  a writing partner or somehting like that..then you find folks who  what that as well.

If you want a game, you need some frame world, rules and random, to go with the RP.

for the game? run the game  as you would   have it run yourself. some folks  will trun away, thinking they are too good for  , whatever you serve up..others  will jump in happily and play the game.

 Your focus is on those who enjoy the  game, the others  do not matter.
member, 1057 posts
Wed 15 May 2024
at 23:43
  • msg #6

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

Thank you for your input guys. I"ll keep it in mind. I'll respond more to these specific points later.
member, 1058 posts
Wed 22 May 2024
at 22:18
  • msg #7

Alternate Pop-Culture Timeline, (Worldbuilding games)?

Thank you @donsr. I will keep that in mind. I'm not so sure I want to a writing exercise, but maybe a game.

I think you have a very good point @deadtotheworld22 . I don't think it would work as we play writers in game, I think the timeline diverging from our real world too much would change so much in terms of historical events as well. At least if we want to think of that. If we don't want to think about that I do think it would be a distraction. If I did use this as some sort of alternate timeline project, I'm not quite sure where I would start though. Maybe I'd have to refine the game and think more on it. Perhaps they could be competing gaming magazines or competing tv studios, and some sort of dice or simulation-based system can determine the ratings?

 Thank you both, you've given me some things to think about with this game.
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