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.