Saturday, 18 May 2013

New Jam: TRUE BELIEVERS (Part Two)

The thing that made the whole thing gel in my head was a third element: there are already people who dress up in costumes and take to the streets as "superheroes".

Real-Life Superheroes.
These guys don't have any powers, just a costume and a commitment to doing something good for their communities. Like most people, the first time I heard about this I dismissed it as a bunch of dangerous nutjobs who were deluding themselves into thinking they were heroes making a difference. It was Hero At Large without the funny bits.

But I saw a documentary that changed my mind. I was expecting something like a ha-ha, isn't this cute and slightly loopy tone, but the show played it straight and talked about people who really seemed to care about what they did. People who generally cared more about community service -- things like handing out food, bottled water, and blankets to the homeless, or visiting sick children in a hospital -- than about punching bad guys in the face. Watch some of the videos on the site I linked to above, and you'll see for yourself. These guys are for real. They believe what they're saying.

Some of the "real life superheroes" consider themselves crimefighters, and perform neighbourhood patrols... some, like a man who calls himself Phoenix Jones, have even mixed it up with crooks. Jones says that the costumes are important so that the police can tell at a glance the difference between the heroes and the crooks they fight.

Phoenix Jones on patrol.
The police are understandably wary of anyone that chooses to walk the streets dressed in a costume, claiming to be a crimefighter.

The more I read about these guys, the more I saw them as a perfect image of what superheroes would look like in my game. Some of them would be earnest do-gooders that genuinely wanted to help make the city a better place, some of them would be more like cosplayers - more interested in elaborate costumes than actual crimefighting, and of course some of them would be people who wanted Fight Club with capes. Their costumes wouldn't be slick like in the comics, they would be homemade, with rough edges and occasionally hilariously garish or impractical. No Reed Richards unstable molecules for these heroes.

They'd be exactly like the "real-life superheroes"... but with real powers.

One thing I thought about a lot was Kick-Ass, both the movie and the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. I liked the movie quite a bit, despite not liking the comics very much. I thought there was a meanness about Kick-Ass that was off-putting. The underlying conceit seemed to be that anyone who believed they could put on a costume and go out and fight crime was a dumbass who deserved to get the shit kicked out of them or a dangerous psychopath.

Okay, he does look like a dumbass. No argument.
This game won't be like Kick-Ass, except perhaps for the costumes.

The heroes in this game might be a little crazy, and they might be in over their heads, but they have a deep commitment to the things they do. They are...

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