Biology, Authenticity and Fiction


Over on the Wellcome Trust blog, Auroch Digital's Tomas wrote a guest post about how they had worked with medical history experts to upgrade the authenticity of a game:

Authenticity matters in media, and it matters in games too. Titles like Call of DutyMedal of Honorand many others employ military advisors to improve the authenticity, and hence the sense of realism, for the player. Any game, even one set within a fantasy world, can benefit from this, which is why it was key to us in the making of Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land. Although the game is partly based on works of horror and science fiction we wanted to make the World War I setting as authentic as possible.

The Wasted Land is a strategy RPG. You command a team of investigators to uncover a deadly inhuman conspiracy underlying the Great War, during which your units can and do get wounded. Of course, your team recovers from wounds faster than in reality, but we took pains to make the nature of the equipment and process used as authentic as possible. And because there was little out there to inform us, we’re grateful to a small grant from the Wellcome Trust, which allowed us to research thehistorical medical information we would use in the game.

This post was picked up by the front page of Wordpress.com and has become of the the Wellcome Trust's most popular posts as a result. There is a longer version of this article over at PocketTactics.

While on the subject of Call of Cthulhu and biology, Tomas didn't just stop there:

What Darwin did was to point out that death, both of the individual and the species was the normal part of nature. This was and still is a major change to how we see ourselves and the world around us. Because for our very brief life-spans things don’t seem to change that much, it can be hard to appreciate just how much change does occur on a wider time-scale. We still sort of don’t fully get it. We talk of environmental protection to ‘save the planet’ when the planet will be fine either way. It’s our (and other living species’) ability to live on the planet that is under threat from our polluting ways. Hence political philosophers like John Gray argue that we’ve not yet full grasped the meaning of Darwin’s work; that humans too will one day die out. Cthulhu gets it too, as he lies there dreaming of the end of the age of mankind and his return to the surface; “Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer.”

Sweet dreams, all!