Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tale of a Town Founder, Queen, and Pioneer Medicine Woman

Subtitle: What Would Genghis Khan Do?
Sub-Subtitle: My Adventure on the Electronic Oregon Trail


If you have noticed I haven't written much lately you might think I'm busy with Marvin's Book coming out any second.

You'd be wrong. I'm done with Marvin's Book, there is nothing left to write.

I have been busy taking care of my special little frontier town nestled between the fish-filled lakes in Oregon that lives on my iPad.

At first I loved my special town, and I happily spent my limited energy (why do they limit my energy?!) clearing trees, planting tomatoes and building a happy little pen for my irrationally calm and non-violent flock of ducks, pigs, chicken and cows.

I fished. I hunted. I visited other towns and helped them harvest.

As queen, founder and richest person on the block, I built houses too - mishmash groups of cheap huts, moderate Victorians, log cabins and luxury townhouses.

 A one-woman political machine, I collected their rent and used the money to build medical facilities, a sheriff's office, a school house so they could hear stories of their wonderful town.

When floods came,  I rebuilt the little frontier homes.
They loved me.
I accepted their praise.

When buffalo tore through, I replanted the virtual crops.
They cheered.
I built them a glorious new town hall.

When my courageous settlers were bitten by snakes or fell sick to measles, I  did my best to save them by producing the magical mix of "things" needed to get my settlers to produce in order to cure them: herbs, splints, a mortar and pestle, bandages. 

At one point I had 8 medical facilities churning out the ingredients for these cures,  each of which required a constant supply of of lumber and food, so I'd have to send myself on endless romps through my expanding (healthy) frontier town,  planting crops and chopping down trees to fuel my medically advanced utopia.

Due to limited energy, all I could do is fuel this direly important medical mission.  As soon as I cured one settler, another fell ill. 

I stopped collecting rent.

I stopped fishing for cute catfish.

I didn't visit other towns to help them harvest.

I stopped visiting town market,  the tavern, the saloon and I didn't even have  energy left to shoot a disoriented black bear as it tore right by me through my frontieropolis.

All I could do was stay in a tedious cycle of production and consumption keep making medicine to keep my people alive.  When the game forced me to run out of energy after a certain number of turns, it offered me an option to spend real cash to keep playing and keep my settlers and their little town going. Tempting as it sometimes felt (especially late at night) I knew better and spent my time-outs playing game after game of Spider Solitaire.

Then it dawned on me.

I must have planted my frontier town somewhere in a sickness-filled pit like Jamestown.

No wonder the land was so cheap.  No wonder the natives didn't fight me for it. It was crappy land, and the people were going to die, or I was going to die of boredom trying to keep them alive.

So I dug deep into my heart and decided it was my responsibility to use the best medicine for everyone - the current and future generations of my little frontieropolis.

I asked myself, "What would Genghis Khan do?"

And then I knew, I really knew.
Before another electronic settler in my frontieropolis could break their arm, drink brown water or be bitten by a snake, before another little girl could fall ill to measles,  I did the best thing I could as their leader, their medicine woman, and the town's sole founder, only politician, queen, empress, dictator and resident nuclear physicist in training.

I deleted my little frontier town and saved them all from their inevitable suffering. And I did it, without warning or permission or any discussion at all.

I think Genghis Khan would be proud; maybe Colin Powell, too....