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Genetic Engineering, Role-Playing and Your Child: Forcing them to accept

By Alex Loke


There isn't much that's funnier than hearing a ten-year-old boy explain to his friends the reason that his parents are making so much noise in the next room.

"They're role-playing."

Just when you thought you had to give them 'the talk' they're forming their own opinions on how much they hate what you do in your spare time.[1] Like all kids, they look up to you as the example - the example of what they intend to not become when they grow up. You're Windows 95, they're shiny new XP. You're Liam Gallagher, they're every child in the free world. You're Macauly Culkin's career - and this is where I stop since you get the idea. I bet you wish your kids could follow in your footsteps?

Of course, if wishes were nuisance lawsuits, you'd be California.

So blot out of your mind the idea that they'll follow in your footsteps and become acceptable role-players. You have to start from the ground up and I don't mean having sex with the devil under a full moon (though if you want to start a second generation of S Club 7, go ahead). Console yourself that your kids, in an effort to not be you are all going to try to become the cool people that played sport, dated and now work in the burgeoning field of Waste Removal. The consolation here is that they'll inherit your weak, 'who needs exercise' physique, and a genetic predisposition to either a skin or respiratory problem.

It's going to take an intervention.

The idea came to me when my housemate, clear thinking individual he is after drinking an entire bottle of turpentine claiming he needed his 'road liquor' before 'shootin' some coons', mentioned that he had been cultivating the hobby in a relative whom he had high hopes for. It was a simple matter of small gifts, a Fighting Fantasy book for Christmas, some references to anything directed by Sam Raimi and the coup de grace, Tolkien to read over the summer holidays. Apparently, the project was coming along 'nicely'.

The subject was receptive, intelligent and rather impressionable. He was also heavily under the sway of a violent tempered hillbilly with a scattergun and a predisposition to 'whittlin' some'. While my inebriated friend can barely pronounce 'pro-active' much less extol it, he has taken a vital step in engendering both a love for the fantastic and an emotional trigger that causes the subject to urinate when he hears the banjo from Deliverance.

Some brave soul ventured to say that we would inherit the Pokemon generation. However, what about our children to come? Shouldn't we be preparing the way for the next generation of role-players, laying before them a moral path of d4s like multicoloured caltrops?

People may say that projecting one's own failures on their children is immoral. Well, I say, who the hell else is there? Want a child who you can take to conventions, anecdote and play Magic with? Then, fellow fertile reader, follow some of the haphazard directions contained below.

Of course, I realise I probably wont make the best parent.[2] How do I know? It was Christmas. One receives only so many coat hangers, morning after pills, small guillotines and condoms before one gets a second 'Spot Obvious' roll. My friends, at the very least, are not subtle. Of course, they do have no small amount of affection, considering the amount of time spent on producing the 'Merry Christmas, Everyone has a right to life except for any child descended from your loins, devil spawn' greeting cards. Come to think about it, they really aren't greeting cards are they?

I am not the only one getting to the age of breeding. All around me, gamers are spawning little litters of socially acceptable joy. Of course, I have no immediate objection to this or at least not in the manner that you would expect. Where others see the miracle of birth I see an opening for cheap commercial exploitation[3].

So why hasn't the role player jumped onto the fast moving genetic engineering bandwagon faster than anyone can say 'Michael Crichton'? Why haven't we employed our half-learned science to make designer babies with six arms that shoot bees out of their cute little mouths? Why exactly is this relevant you ask? Well, why have a natural birth, relying on random chance, when you can have a cute little miracle where you allocate the stats!

I find myself suddenly taken by the idea that all I need to do is fill out a character sheet with little details like hair colour, character class and alignment. Of course, no system should be without a sense of parity. Allocating a set amount of points is probably the right direction to go. Want the maximum in every statistic? Be prepared to take character flaws.[4]

But that isn't exactly the point of the genetic engineering is it? We want a very specific child. Here's my take on designing some typical role-player stereotypes:

Geek Role Player

Irrational Hatred (iMac, Second Season of Star Trek: Voyager), Susceptible (Promise of Sex), Addiction (Caffeine, Delivered Italian Goods), Hindrance (Na´ve, Requires Asthma Medication, Thick-Ass Glasses, Dressed by mother who has worse taste in clothing than a professional golfer, unable to 'close the deal' without picturing cast of Charmed), Afflicted (Acne), Obsessive (Comic Books, Buffy Girls, Seems to think yelling 'Sugar!' makes self more attractive to opposite sex), Allergy (Allergens). Irrational Attraction (Steam Tunnels)

Skill Focus (Linux, Min/Maxing), Affiliation (Counterstrike Clan, Dungeons & Dragons Club, Underground Hackers who think aps hacking is 'l33t'), Knowledge (Useless Trivia, Rules Lawyer), Summon Unseen, Imaginary, Online, Canadian Girlfriend.

Don't think you want a child who will continue to live in your basement till they're 50 or you're dead? There are 'alternative' packages available!

Gothic Role-Player

Irrational Hatred (Commercial Music, Others), Susceptible (Natural Light, Biased Liberal Media), Irrational Addiction ('Absinthe' even though it tastes like ethanol), Hindrance (Thinks GPs and Leather Pants 'Work', Doesn't know when they're being sarcastic anymore, Unable to express current emotional state with 'I'm fine' or in less than 200 words , Permanent flagellation marks since vanilla masturbation no longer suits assumed alternative lifestyle), Afflicted (Pale Skin, Criss-cross marks from fishnets, 'I'm Bisexual' Syndrome), Obsessive (Black, Random Gothic Band Member with single word name spelled incorrectly like 'Ravyn'), Allergy (Colours besides Red, Bass), Irrational Belief (That they were the first one to go Goth and everyone else is just a poser)

Skill Focus (Shitty Application of Mascara, Dress like Bowie, Write attention seeking suicide note, Write poetry with lines like 'No-one understands me, I am the enigma'), Affiliation (Camarilla, Inane Internet Support Group - Livejournal), Knowledge (Vampire: The Masquerade, Convoluted understanding of Paganism and/or Wicca, 'The Crow' Trivia, What's 'not' Goth), Detect and adopt obvious philosophy within alternative texts that they weren't aware were actually mainstream.

I'm sure I can come up with more, but how about I leave that up to you?

Inevitably, someone will bring up the question of morality. Fortunately, I don't have to address the question since due to the production cycle of PTGPTB, you have exactly four months to get the question to me, and by then, I'll be in a non-extradition country, drunker than Russell Crowe at an open bar.

But, for the flagging interest of the reader I must answer. Isn't it immoral not to genetically min/max our kids? Before you point and scream 'negative argument' consider the facts. Firstly, you may very well be screaming into a monitor, which by deign of it's non-humanness, will sit on the fence. Secondly, if you form the thought into a carefully considered email retort, I'll only laugh and push 'delete' from my fortress of solitude in Spain. Thirdly, these are not the droids you're looking for.

If we can't gene-engineer our kids, then what is there left? Have we adequately paved the way for a second generation? The greatest product of the 1990s seems to be the prevalence of geek chic - the clothing, the music and the technical knowledge. Unfortunately once again, it seems that role-playing, much like English Soccer Fans, never made the list of desirable elements.

So it is up to us, the older generation, to force our children, our families and any other unbelievers to support our hobby. Raise your children, trying at some point to cut a jagged mental scar across their impressionable little psyches. Burn popular culture from them. Lock them in a cupboard with nothing but every Cleo or TV Hits Magazine since 1975 (sex dependant, don't confuse the child any more than is necessary) and don't let them out until they've finished them all. Throw a carton of cigarettes in there, and force them to smoke them all too - shoot for two lessons at once. By the time your little tyke wheezes his way out, he may know which brain dead monkey won the Oscar in 1978, but will be unable to scour the erotic images of Fred Durst from his mind. He'll be eager to pick up anything else that doesn't surreptitiously cause his brains to leak out through his pores. My suggestion would be to avoid Hunter: The Reckoning.

Start them on the path to the occult with Harry Potter, Marilyn Manson and David Lynch. Fill them with the empty-headed rhetoric of PTGPTG, and the didactic ravings of Henry Rollins. Hand them the tools, a set of fuzzy novelty d12s and a fuzzy novelty role-playing game like HOL. Teach them wrong from right, then confuse them with 'acceptable losses'. Hopefully by then, the child has the correct mindset to be set aside to become Padawan to your Jedi Master, Buffy to your Giles, Osama to your CIA.

Finally, the end result; 1.) a somewhat misanthropic, angry youth who dresses in fishnets, plays Vampire and writes scathing cathartic poetry about your personal habits 2.) long, drawn out mental cruelty litigation that would make Ike Turner proud 3.) a rotund kid that smells like ham and spends his or her time rolling up D20 characters and eats to forget the pain or 4.) a somewhat socially developed teen who, despite a horrid upbringing by an obsessive parent who followed the advice of some guy on a website, can calculate thrust vectors in his head and is regularly referred to as the 'future Mr President' (unfortunately, he or she will also look like a Porky's villain).

We could, like the Wheel of Time series, MASH and Bob Hope, refuse to die because some misguided soul still cares/owns the rights/continues parading Hope's body around like some sick meat sack, 'Weekend at Bernies' style. We could fight the forces of evolutionary attrition and become like funky basement morlocks. Or, conversely, we could accept that we were wrong, and fade away, consoling ourselves that even the Elves of Middle Earth disappeared to the Grey Havens. In time, we would be forgotten, leaving the world to the new race of man.

But then, if we could accept that we were wrong, why did so many people buy and consequently keep Everway?


[1] Incidentally, this is unnecessary if your kids have the time and cable Internet access, just type '' into your browser and see how many previously visited sites come up, ignoring the ones you've bookmarked. Here you were thinking they were doing 'homework' and 'research'. Technically, they are.[back]

[2] I also realise I may also be going for the understatement of the year award, trailing neatly behind a certain Iraqi Information Minister. I'd like to thank the Academy, God and all the people who wanted to appear politically correct for voting for a minority. Wait, maybe I should only be thanking the Academy once.[back]

[3] Why do I feel a sudden kinship to the creators of Bob the Builder?[back]

[4] Of course, this would also be subject to some legislation, since we don't want a race of ubermensch who are technically colour blind and have a minor addiction to cough medicine.[back]

Alex is the author of such loved children's books as 'Papa Heinrich lives in South America', 'Where's Osama?', 'The Cat in the Hat gets a Cap in the Ass, That's Phat!' and 'When Mommy, Daddy and Daddy's friend Phil really love each other'. He is also the producer of the new Fox Special, 'When Bjork Attacks!'

Anyone with a genetic model for a role-player is more than welcome to mail Alex will post the good ones here, or send them to the Raelians.

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