Monday, April 19, 2010

The 30 year cycle and the Cyberpunk world of 2032

Here is more "Nerd Fail" fodder but I am compelled to post it anyhow...

In 1988 I was in going into high school and I loved skateboarding and thought that 1950s fashion was cool.  Even 50s music was cooler, as far as "oldies" went.  Bands with a 50s vibe were great and a lot of the "Modern Rock" or "New Wave" music movements were influenced by 50s music.  In my mind the 80s was a cultural mashup of the 50s.

Then in the 1990s we had "grunge".  Things had a more decidedly "Hippie" feel, but suddenly this was acceptable (prior to that it felt sloppy and dumb).  The 80s were less political (at least for me), while the 1990s felt more like the 60s as far as liberal politics went.  We saw a rise of the Earth Liberation Front just as we saw Waco burn or the Oklahoma city bombing.  The 1990s were a mashup of the 1960s.

Once 2000 came around, things felt influenced by the 70s.  We even watched a show called "That 70s Show" -- you can't get more transparent than that!  There was a musical based on the music of Abba...  But most of all there was the issue of "Executive Privilege" and the similarities between the Nixon administration and the Bush administration.  Like the 70s, the 2000s were a time of shadowy politics and divided population who felt powerless to do much other than watch things unfold. Unpopular wars, spying, back room deals, the power of activist journalism.. the 1970s had some similarities.

Now that we look into 2010 and beyond we can expect some similarities to the 1980s, and by proxy the 1950s.  I expect we will see the economy rebound and conspicuous consumption increase (iPad or new iPhone anyone?).  Personal indulgence will be popular as social media and mobile technologies increase in popularity and capability.  Music will be tight and possibly more electronic as all things digital are considered fashionable.  Politically people will be more apathetic and assume the bad times are behind.  Perhaps President Obama will have a second term, or a moderate and popular republican will take the next two terms.  In my gameworld this administration contributes to the further fall from grace the United States has been feeling for the last 10 years.  Possibly some scandal or relaxed regulations allow another massive financial collapse at the end of the decade.

I think we can expect 2020 to be a time of radicalism.  Rebellion to the consumerism and consumption of the 2010s will make environmentalism and a return to hand-crafted goods and values popular.  We might see old environmental figures and movements resurge and become mainstream again.  In my fictional gameworld this is when we see the North American Union form and the governments of Canada, the US and Mexico merge in response to the economic power of the "BRIC" countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  In my gameworld the "socialization" of the new United States and NAU members will lead to massive government programs and control of the economy.

Then, 2030 will be like 2000 or 1970.  There will be political double-dealing, government corruption and a apathetic public who parties the days away feeling like those problems do not matter or there is nothing to be done to change the situation.  The gameworld set in 2032 will be just as the corruption is becoming rampant but undetected by most people.  Just like in the early days of the second Iraq war the public will be thrilled at the success and victories in the public's name (but ignorant of the idea that one person's victory is another's defeat).  The United States, or NAU will lack the power or will to make military victories -- but victories over homelessness, drug addiction, unemployment, equality and other social ills will be likely targets.  Just as "Shock and Awe" in Iraq gave way to a violent insurgency, these victories will be expensive and hollow.  The burden of social program obligation will be a yoke on the necks of all citizens and the freedom and liberty will already be given up to the corrupt government.

This is how the 30 year cycle will effect the future as I consider it for my Cyberpunk gameworld...

(submit your ideas below)


  1. I never thought about that, but now that you said it, it really makes sense. I´ll use this idea in my next cyberpunk campaign, thanks :)

  2. Thank you! Far from foolproof and rather subjective, I totally guess at which aspects of the previous cycle will be passed on. A better thing to do would be to look at the 1920s and compare them to the 1950s, then the 1980s and 2010s... and so on. It almost works though, huh?


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