Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Colony: RP Haven

My computer experienced some hardware failure a few days ago. Waiting for parts to arrive, I've been spending the time in front of the TV more than I usually do. I've watched all episodes released of the Discovery Channel's The Colony. It's a reality show about a group of people in a mock post-apocalyptic world set in downtown LA. It's an interesting idea, but I think the producers severely underestimated the resourcefulness of the participants in the "experiment." The people were herded into a very large machine yard. I'm calling it the modern version of Gilligan's Island--the "volunteers" have made showers, laundry machines, flame throwers, and tasers. They even have solar panels powering all their lighting and welding needs.

Some of the situations feel contrived, and it's not as if the people don't see the cameramen everywhere or know they are mic'd. The post-apocalyptic experiment is pretty much defunct, since survival needs were taken care of by the second episode, but watching these people react to certain stimuli is very fascinating. It has become a very alluring, televised role-playing game (one guy even uses a bow and arrow as his weapon of choice).

Those running the show send in raiders or other actors to steal or to stake claims on resources. The producers react to how the volunteers have handled themselves thus far. For example, the participants spent time building comfort luxuries (like that shower and laundry machine), so the experimenters exploited their weak security and defences and sent in raiders over unfortified walls. A trader showed up in one episode. He was transplanted right out of nomadic Arabia; he had a truck, but all his wears were in brown sacks. It was very out of place, almost fantastical.

They are in the process of fixing an old truck to leave for greener pastures. With a water filtration system, steel walls and doors, and a renewable power grid, I'm not sure why one would want to leave, but that's their priority. It's as if they beat this dungeon and want to see the next one.

I can't recommend the show for the post-apocalyptic "experiment" (a "cross section" of society includes no burger flippers, oddly), or even the drama (everyone is a generally level-headed and educated), but if you look at it through a fuzzy lens, you can see the RP elements shining through. Maybe survival MMORPGs will have a market.

No comments: