So, one of the projects I’m working on is the Malmart Catalog for Gun Metal Games‘ Interface Zero. For all intents and purposes, let’s just go with the fact that this is a good thing and keep that in mind for some of the things I’m about to talk about that might make you think otherwise. I’m really happy to be working on this book.
There are a few things here though that make it a bit strange and a huge first for me. The most important is the writing style. Since this is a catalog for the year 2090, the bulk of the products described are being written in copywriter speak. So, yeah…. You’re getting a book that’s filled with ads for products that don’t exist. Not only that, but the book’s primary audience in this regard are the middle class and affluent.
If you know anything about the cyberpunk genre, the audience I’m writing to aren’t the heroes. So, that’s where the other bit of weirdness comes in. I’ve always been told that writers are supposed to write for their audience and that’s not what I’m doing here. The book is supposed to give you a sense of how the world is in the game which makes it ideal for players and gamemasters.
I’m aware how bizarre this sounds. It’s like a dialectic that refuses to be solved. But that’s exactly where the book needs to be. For cyberpunk heroes who come from the streets and have oh so little, this is a representation of a world that ignores them and essentially left their forebears behind. It’s also filled with the things they want.
When your life sucks that much though, what do you do when you get these things? How do they help you survive? There are a lot of questions like this that the catalog can’t and won’t answer. The only phrase to help you in solving this dilemma for the characters is from William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome”: “the street finds its own use for things.”