[Lore Exposition] - The Heritage Archive
This is the first exposition article to be written in regards to the Megacorp lore. One of the more attractive elements of our game is the story and throughout the travels and demonstrations I have made, some of the same questions pop up. One of these defines the context of today's article: "How much of earth history do the people of Gaia know?". A better way to rephrase this is "how much of Earth do the people of Gaia know?". They know quite alot in fact, all the way up to what happened on earth till 2010. And why is that? Because of a nifty repository of information given to humanity by GENECIA. This is called "The Heritage Archive"
Let me attempt to address this in detail and also bring some of the more casual players up to speed with the premise of this specific part of the lore.
The game takes place on P4-11 (the original designation of the planet) which has been renamed "Gaia" by its denizens. The original mission was for thousands of colonists to settle the planet via a huge Genesis Ark spacecraft, as earth was overpopulated and effectively dying in the late 2040s. The would-be colonists were tricked by the crew of the Genesis ark that the planet was the cradle of human civilization. The crew set themselves up as immortal rulers, Gods even. They destroyed all history of the home planet (earth), dismantled and buried all evidence of the Ark, and kept the subsequent generations ignorant. This initial settling of the planet happened in the 'Forgotten Age' and alot of the history from this period was wiped up by a unknown cataclysm. Subsequently, four ages took place- the Age of Ignorance, the Heroic Age, the Age of strife and then the Age of the awakening. So there is a great deal of history of the planet that I have written, but let's focus on what happened during the latest age. The Awakening happened when Gaia was in the midst of a terrible world war that resembled what happened on earth in the 1940s. Essentially, both sides of the conflict were contacted by observers from Earth that represented the two dominant races - Corp and Incarnate. The war escalated as earth-tech was introduced, thousands of years more advanced than the weapons being employed. This is when GENECIA, a Godlike benign AI chose to intervene. The impact of the arrival of GENECIA was so traumatic, that Gaia's calendar now uses the advent of the Awakening as "Year zero". Sixty years has passed since the awakening took place, making the present year of the game 60 A.A or "60 years after awakening".
Now one of the most important events of the Awakening was a post-war conference called the "Aohu Accord". In this conference, many tremendous reforms were implemented on Gaia, such as the unification of a global currency, mandatory Assignment, the privatization of all governments via the Sovereign act which created the Corporate citizenship system, Genecia's Ban and more. One of these measures was the release of the Heritage Archive to Gaians.
The Heritage Archive is a treasure trove of data. A collection of every single piece of media from magazines, to newspapers, movies, radio recordings, internet sites created by humanity on earth. There is no censorship in the selection of data in the archive, even the most odious hate speech and exploitative material (such as porn) can be found however. The archive contains information from that point that humanity started to digitize materials - so knowledge of what happened in ancient Egypt for instance would be in scanned journal entries of explorers in museum computers circa 1930s and subsequently scanned in the 80s. What is interesting is that PRIVATE data such as the emails and instant messages of individuals are excluded from the Heritage archive. So for instance, a person accessing the Heritage archive cannot recall a secret conversation between Barack Obama and president elect Donald Trump on the latter's appointment day. Similarly, proprietary technology like how certain cars are assembled cannot be accessed, unless it was somehow leaked to a public forum.
The Heritage archive increases in its scope every year. GENECIA thought it was appropriate to 'match' the contemporary history of Gaia with that of Earth's progress in the 1940s. This is mainly due to 'technological age' of the society at large, as introducing material too far removed would be too jarring economically and politically. This is why when the archive was first given to Gaians in year 0 (right after the Aohu Accord) the information found on the Heritage Archive is that of Earth up to the year 1950. And each subsequent year, the archive releases a new year of earth history, together with all corresponding media and data.
As such, in 1 A.A, Gaians gained access to the sum of human knowledge up to 1951, and so on. In the present year of 60 A.A, the Heritage Archive contains materials up to year 2010 A.D on earth. This means that Gaians basically are listening to "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga, and your neighborhood Anubian musician wannabe is busy rehearsing and howling through a metal cover of Ke$sha's "Tik tok". Historians would be delighted that the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building up to date on earth at 829.8 meters officially opened in Dubai. Similarly, economics students would look intently at how Taiwan's economy exited from the recession with 9.22% growth in the last quarter of 2009 after increased demand from China and other key markets in the region. In two years time, its probable that Gangnam Style will go viral in across the planet.
The Heritage archive 'refreshes' and adds new information one year at a time. At the commencement of each new year, millions of people on Gaia check the archive to see new items that might interest them. Genecia initially wanted to do this in real time, matching each second of every minute of each day and updating the information at that pace. However the congregation of humanity's leaders in Aohu Accord felt that this might create an unhealthy obsession of watching "what happens next", which is less productive than innovating themselves. Not to mention, realtime updates might cause the creation of a illegal industry of 'history betting' on Earth Sports and current events. The impact of the Heritage Archive on culture cannot be understated. Academics live in constant fear that their findings might be invalidated when the clock strikes midnight on new years eve. Enterprising individuals scour the archives looking for business models to copy. Criminals also, unfortunately gain an edge from studying the methods of successful killers and robbers of old Earth, while the police have to keep pace.
Some jurisdictions on Gaia actively restrict access to the Heritage archive by blocking some or all access to their citizens. These jurisdictions are sometimes doing it for political reasons (such as how certain countries in the real world censor their internet) or for religious religions.
Let get a bit meta here and break the fourth wall for a second. Part of the reason why I introduced this element to the game is so the Roleplaying game GMs can tie in popular culture references and this makes storytelling easier, rather than have to constantly invent entirely new ecosystems of local businesses and TV. Also turning the clock back to 2010 meant that some hackers that managed to penetrate Genecia's secret darknight archive (The Pandora vault) might be able to even gain access to few years ahead of the curve, game masters could allow history from 2011 to as far as 2018 to 'leak' to such individuals, creating an interesting dynamic in the campaign.
Mark G. Koh