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Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Tue 29 Nov 2016, 19:49
by aka_fatman
The 1980's - the decade that gave us drum machines and synth music, shoulder pads, sweatbands and acid wash jeans. It gave us
John Hughes films, Madonna, Salomon backpacks, the Commodore 64 and Riggs & Murtaugh. We were also still in the midst of the Cold War, the Falklands got invaded, the Iran-Iraq War took place and it was the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic.


If we could take the DeLorean back there, what would we like to explore?

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Wed 30 Nov 2016, 12:16
by Bengt Petter
Well, I´d say it depends on where you want to go. On one hand, there is the national context – so far Sweden and US. 

Some things (more or less) specific for Sweden in the 80's: only two national TV channels (both public service and none commercial) and very few private schools (most owned by the state). Compared to US and many other Western countries I guess Sweden in the 80´s would appear a bit grey, boring and isolated. I think this is reflected in the world of Stålenhag's pictures. Another theme with a specific Swedish touch is the Cold War. Of course it affected many countries, but here there was always this strong fear of Soviet spies and submarines. This presens of something strange and unknown is there in this game, at least implicitly. Viewing it from the stereotype: the presens of Russians often meant a mean conspiracy – and a possible invasion or nuclear war. For example as a kid in Sweden, I remember fearing to see missiles in the sky. I was looking for them, for real...

In 1981, a real Soviet submarine (U 137) stranded in the south of Sweden – first not even noticed by the Swedish navy. For many years, there were stories in the press of new Soviet subs seen by both locals and navy divers. Some of it was probably true observations, I´d say.   

Making the setting American would, I guess, mean many subtle differences. Many things established there where still new, or more or less unknown, in the 80´s.

A more general and not very national aspect is, of course, that almost everything that is digital today was analogue back then: letters, photo albums, encyclopedias, tape recorders, note books, answering machines, walkmans (strangely called "freestyle" in Swedish), newspapers, maps, phones etc. Even though all this seems obvious, I think it´s worth giving a second thought. All this stuff could be a part of the mysteries thats seems the core theme (?) of this RPG. 

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Wed 30 Nov 2016, 18:37
by aka_fatman
Well, I´d say it depends on where you want to go. On one hand, there is the national context – so far Sweden and US. 

Some things (more or less) specific for Sweden in the 80's: only two national TV channels (both public service and none commercial) and very few private schools (most owned by the state). Compared to US and many other Western countries I guess Sweden in the 80´s would appear a bit grey, boring and isolated. I think this is reflected in the world of Stålenhag's pictures. Another theme with a specific Swedish touch is the Cold War. Of course it affected many countries, but here there was always this strong fear of Soviet spies and submarines. This presens of something strange and unknown is there in this game, at least implicitly. Viewing it from the stereotype: the presens of Russians often meant a mean conspiracy – and a possible invasion or nuclear war. For example as a kid in Sweden, I remember fearing to see missiles in the sky. I was looking for them, for real...
I think everywhere was kinda like that. I knew that - in Australia - there was a sense of unease. Will World War Three start in our lifetime?-kinda thoughts.
In 1981, a real Soviet submarine (U 137) stranded in the south of Sweden – first not even noticed by the Swedish navy. For many years, there were stories in the press of new Soviet subs seen by both locals and navy divers. Some of it was probably true observations, I´d say
Whoa! Wow, that's something else. I hope they incorporate something like that in "Tales From The Loop"
Making the setting American would, I guess, mean many subtle differences. Many things established there where still new, or more or less unknown, in the 80´s. 
Hmmm. It was deeply entrenched in the Reagan era. Have you watched shows like "The Americans" and "Halt and Catch Fire"? There was a sense of naïveté mixed with a feeling or paranoia, I feel. On the one hand, technology was growing in leaps and bounds. Household things seemed a lot more affordable, the Detroit car manufacturers were booming. But there was still a sense of unease all around. I think it was only when Gorbachev took power in Russia did the whole world start to relax more.
A more general and not very national aspect is, of course, that almost everything that is digital today was analogue back then: letters, photo albums, encyclopedias, tape recorders, note books, answering machines, walkmans (strangely called "freestyle" in Swedish), newspapers, maps, phones etc. Even though all this seems obvious, I think it´s worth giving a second thought. All this stuff could be a part of the mysteries thats seems the core theme (?) of this RPG. 
Yeah. I'm hoping for a lot of crossover technologies.

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Wed 07 Dec 2016, 21:03
by Björn Hellqvist
I thought a bit about this today, and there are several things that has to be considered. As I was 16 years old in 1981, I feel that the game captures some of my early life (some friends an I did what is now known as "urban exploring").

- National and international politics: are they basically the same as the real historical timeline? The advantage is that the source material is easy to find - just google it, or dig up those yearbooks published in the 80's, where news items from the year were summed up (can be found for SEK 10-20 in second hand stores and the like). Some impact from the Loop and magnetrin tech must be added; the shipyard crisis of the 1970, the nuclear power referendum, and other real-life events will have to be adjusted to fit the game setting. The Cold War really set the tone for the period, so I guess the real history cannot be ignored without sacrificing things like the looming threat of nuclear war most of us experienced back then.

- Everyday tech: apart for the heavy transportation and robotics, it seems like household electronics, computers and gadgets plod along at the historical rate. That makes it easier to introduce e.g. better computers at the right time.

- Social life and entertainment: one must understand what a different time it was, 30 years ago, before the advent of cellphones (that weren't the size and weight of a brick), the Internet, cable TV, etc. Roleplaying games were a hobby on the rise, and it would be a nice meta-touch to have the players play characters playing characters...

I jotted down a lot of notes, but as I don't know what the rulebook will cover, it would be interesting to know whether there's a need for background material like this, and if so, interest in having it written.

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Tue 13 Dec 2016, 16:39
by Ärkelykta
Another take on the Cold War theme is how the kids of that time experienced it.
From what I remember (being like 9 years old in 1983), was that we for example had constant nuclear shelter drills at school and everyone knew exactly what to do
when (not if - it was really more of when) the war hit us.
In Sweden we also had (and still have) monthly tests of a nation wide system of sirens, that should warn us if war was imminent and we needed to get to the shelters.
We also had homeworks of what to bring in case of war (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_-CXk2-VWGgQ/T ... et_bob.png).
There where also a lot of military exercises right in the middle of the suburbs in Stockholm. Especially remembering waking up to soldiers running though our back yard
and watching two tanks right outside our house one sunday morning in 1982-1983...
Not to mention all the military facilities that were more or less manned at that time, that we loved to explore.
The opening scene from Wargames, with the guys going in to a nuclear missile silo through a cabin is more real than today´s kids may possibly believe...

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Tue 13 Dec 2016, 20:18
by Björn Hellqvist
I don't remember us having any drills at school other than fire drills. OTOH, most public buildings, schools and apartment houses had (and still have, in varying states of accessability) bomb shelters in the basements. I guess you had a different experience, as Stockholm was more likely to be hit by a nuclear warhead than my native Jönköping. The test of the sirens (the danger of war is just one aspect of the signal; it could also warn for a local calamity, like a major gas leak. Sweden was way better prepared for a major catastrophe than now, anyway.

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Fri 16 Dec 2016, 18:29
by menschi
I don't recall being too concerned about the cold war in the 80's in Chicago. I remember having one bomb drill where we hid under our desks and then marched to the school's bomb shelter, but that was after "The Day After" was broadcast. I didn't get to watch that unfortunately. Should try to find it online. I used to hang out at school with some friends while I was waiting for my brother to finish up, since my mom didn't want to drive back to the suburbs and then come back later. So I remember running around, including some buildings nearby under construction.

My brother got an Apple ][+ in the late 70's and he went to computer camp a few times, so it was fun seeing computer technology develop at that time. I really only played games, although I breezed through the really basic computer programming classes we had on our school's TRS 80's and on one of my teacher's Commodore 64. I also remember being amazed when VCRs came out and we could not only see old movies anytime we wanted, but we could also record TV shows and not have to worry about missing anything. Some of the toys were pretty amazing at the time too -- the programmable Big Trak and the Verbot,... My dad actually had one of early cellphones in his car, and one of those huge, brick-sized portable phones. One of my best birthday parties was inviting a bunch of friends to play Photon (laser tag). That would be fun to import into this game setting somehow.

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Fri 16 Dec 2016, 19:48
by Björn Hellqvist
Well, here in Sweden, we were a bit more concerned with the threat of war, being sandwiched between NATO and the Warszaw Pact. With Soviet airborne troops just 1½ hour away across the Baltic, we were a bit more exposed. It wasn't like we worried about it all the time, but you went to a garrison town the year you turned 18 for military aptitude tests. Military service was almost compulsory; most of us did 7,5 - 15 months (depending on rank), entering service the year we turned 20 or 21. Of my age group, 85 % had to serve. (I was a corporal in the HQ of a motorized rifle company.)

The Day After? That movie was shown in the cinemas here. I remember it made an impression on us, especially my date.

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Fri 16 Dec 2016, 20:06
by menschi
Thanks for the link. I had seen previews in commercials I think before it aired so I knew what it was about, but my parents didn't put it on for my brother and I, and I didn't press them to watch it.

Interesting that you compulsory military service there. By the time I graduated in 1990, the US was getting involved in the Persian Gulf war, so there was talks about a draft (eventually). If we were to run a game set in Sweden (after trying to educate ourselves as much as possible), I could see a storyline involving maybe an older brother coming back and talking to a player about weird stuff his unit had seen, which maybe sparks a recollection of something similar that the player saw in the neighborhood.

Re: Nostalgia-Rama [a look at the 1980's]

Posted: Fri 16 Dec 2016, 20:22
by Björn Hellqvist
Remember that Sweden hasn't been at war since 1814. Still, being in the Army, you are on manoeuvers, and with strang(er) things running rampant over the countryside, older brothers could come across "things" indeed. Some did voluntary UN service (peacekeeping missions), in e.g. Bosnia from 1993 onwards. We haven't had conscription since 2010, but back in the 80's, it was very common to have military training.