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Chapter 4
Alternate Games

History Is Made At Night
(019:57:32 Internet Standard Time, To Be Exact

by THOMAS FINFLANAHAGAN, Alternate Reality News Service International Writer

“Let this be an example for all of the citizens of the gameosphere,” stated Ambassador Slartibartslow of Worlds of Wowcraft, “that entities of goodwill can overcome differences of race, class, economics, level, species, gender, skill, karma, genre and good/evil orientation to enter into an agreement that will benefit all citizens socially, economically, karmically –”

“Oh, bless the Interstellar Protector Fleet,” Ambassador G’Tank of Star Blap Online grumbled, “this speech will take longer than the negotiations!”

It is true that, once the laughter subsided, Ambassador Slartibartslow did speak for another five and three quarters hours, but, in the end, the historic Normalization of Relations Between Worlds of Wowcraft and Star Blap Online Treaty was signed and passed into law for the two gameworlds.

“This is a historic document,” games theorist and historian Espen Aarseth stated. “But, uhh, you already said that.”

The Treaty allows character/citizens from one gameworld to travel to – and wreak playful havoc in – the other. You might have thought that this would be a simple matter, but the 1,700 page document (all but three pages of which are appendices) took 16 months to negotiate. The Worlds of Wowcraft delegation was made up of 325 mages, drunken elf kickboxers, Hellspawn Lawyers and blood d’oner, while the Star Blap Online delegation was made up of one captain and 357 men and women in identical orange uniforms.

The Treaty covers every aspect of life in the two very different gameworlds. For example, over 50 pages of the document deal with the transferability of spells from Worlds of Wowcraft, a sword and sorcery based game, into Star Blap Online, a spacefaring science fiction epic. Spells are only allowed on planets that have been designated “laws of physics free zones,” and their effectiveness is severely limited (although, not, as originally feared, to giving opponents warty skin or making them hallucinate visions of James Doohan naked).

The use of Star Blap Online’s laser weapons in Worlds of Wowcraft are similarly limited.

“You might have thought that this would have been a simple enough matter,” Aarseth stated, “but – dammit! You already made this point three paragraphs ago!”

Negotiations foundered after seven months because of the contentious issue of the exchange rate between the two in-game economies. Star Blap Online negotiators insisted that the Golden Blap (GB) should be worth twice a Worlds of Wowcraft Gold Skull (GS), arguing that their game had existed for much longer. Worlds of Wowcraft negotiators, on the other hand, argued that one GS should be worth two GB, since their game had more citizen/character/players.

Negotiations dragged on for five months, before a junior functionary whose name will be forgotten long before the ink dries on the Treaty pointed out that since the value of the currencies will be allowed to float, they will quickly find their own exchange rate. Slapping their foreheads in amity and goodwill, the lead negotiators agreed to set the value of the currencies at par.

Within minutes of the signing of the Treaty, travel guides appeared in both games. “We have our own customs, history, culture and turn-based combat rules,” explained Conrad “Skeevy” Skeeter, author of The Worlds Of Wowcraft Baedeker. “It pays to learn a little bit about them before you come to our gameworld. I mean, you shouldn’t complain about not being able to earn a Sizzling Sword of Shizzledom in Marshmallow Fen when everybody knows that they drop much more frequently in the In an Instant Instance of the Hall of Virginless Martyrs. Or that the food is different. Of course the food is different!

“Let’s face it: nobody likes dealing with an ugly Star Blappian.”

The Treaty is being held up as a model for a way of diplomatically connecting all of the gameworlds in the gameosphere. As Ambassador Slartibartslow put it: “…and donkeys and mules and zebras and and quahogs and orangutans and…” No, sorry, that came earlier in his speech. We meant the part where he said: “…two great, thriving gameworlds, with their own customs, histories, cultures and turn-based combat rules should overcome their mutual suspicions of each other’s fundamental philosophy and underlying code to –” No, no that’s not it, either. Do you know how hard it is to find just the right quote to support an argument out of a speech that lasted several hours?

Let’s just say that Ambassador Slartibartslow believes that one day all gameworlds will have diplomatic ties and be connected in one vast ecumenical playspace.

Initial reports are that everybody is happy with the Treaty. “There’s a funny story,” Arseth commented, “about how the exchange rate between the two in-game economies was settled. Negotiators went back and forth for seven months ab – of, for crying out loud, you’ve already told this story, haven’t you? I mean, Jesus, what’s the point of bothering to do an interview if you’re going to –”

Well, most people, anyway.

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