Final Words

The new technologies will be dangerous as well as liberating. But in the long run, social constraints must bend to new realities. Humanity cannot live forever with clipped wings.
Freeman Dyson, Imagined Worlds


I have always loved to create worlds -- be they elaborate toy castles, artificial life simulations or roleplaying scenarios. The more complex the better. So InfoWar is really the logical result of this, an attempt to describe a possible future in all its complexity, possible to explore and change.

The work on InfoWar began for me when I and Robert discussed the lack of good hard science fiction roleplaying games. To make a good setting some kind of dramatic conflict or tension is needed; most sf games have that, be it a decaying galactic empire or fighting slimy monsters. But what distinguishes real science fiction from mere adventure is that it asks "what if" questions (what if robots could think?) and then describes how people try to deal with it, solve or at least cope with the problems. Ideally it is all done in a logical, scientifically reasonable manner while telling an engaging and intelligent story. There is very little of that in most sf roleplaying today; much of what is called sf is really fantasy or intrigue in a future setting, stories that could have worked just as well anywhere else (actually, the same goes for books, movies and television sf too).

What we wanted to create was a game where there are some real problems, and the characters have the chance to try to deal with them. InfoWar is really a setting to explore questions about technology, society and where we are going, a kind of lab where you can try out different possibilities and see what happens. Instead of making up technology and a world, we extrapolated from our own world and technology that exists or is under development. Instead of inventing foes and problems, we extrapolated current nastiness. Reality is much more exciting than fiction.

Some might be a bit uncomfortable with a setting so close to the present -- the institutions are roughly the same, the people are there, most of us who play it will likely be alive in 2015 to see it for ourselves. But moving InfoWar to some secure remote future (2050 or so) would make it less real. Make no mistake, InfoWar is intended to reflect the real world and force us to think about it. Biotechnology is real, and people are working on nanotechnology. The markets grow more global every day, and information warfare is a reality today that seriously worries some military planners. We better think of what kind of future we want to have and how to achieve it, or somebody nasty will do it instead of us.

I hope that in 17 years I will be able to read this game again, smiling at how amusingly wrong I was about things that then look obvious in retrospect. I certainly hope I will not have to bitterly say "Told you so". But I'm not worried -- I think the next millennium has the potential to become great, if we choose to make it so.

Anders Sandberg


One year ago I was given a science fiction role-playing game for my birthday. At first I liked it, the setting seemed great, the illustrations were cool and I've always been a fan of science fiction. But I couldn't really make out what the game designers wanted to say to me with their game. Science fiction has always been a testing ground for ideas, not only ideas about man's future but also of man's present. I bought a lot of sourcebooks and adventure books and started to play with some of my friends. Still, I couldn't figure out the game's main conflicts, it's theme and mood, or it's basic premises.

Yesterday, I understood. The designers hadn't thought about those things, they had just created a science fiction setting to "adventure" in, put in some nasty adversaries and thrown in some basic plot twists. But underneath this setting filled with incoherence, illogical trends, and empty hints I found that they had unwittingly introduced some ideas from today's cultural atmosphere. In passing references, vague implications, and casual asides they presented some horrible, revolting ideas as ideals, and issued invitations to follow them.

Philosophers, artists and role-playing game designers cannot issue such invitations with impunity. If the ideas they propagate are part of the cultural mainstream they will give, one way or another, someone the message. But that someone will not clearly see what the message is about, since it's so interred in the cultural atmosphere, and might accept it unwittingly.

I wanted you, the reader, to know my motives for writing this game. I wanted you to choose hope. I wanted to stimulate you to think for yourself. I wanted to show you that a truly magnificent future is possible for you, if you use your intellect to make the right choices. I also wanted to depict the logical end of many of those trends that dominate our present society, and if you don't choose to reverse those trends it will be a gloomy future indeed.

Do not make your game a simple game of "enemy bashing"; explore venues for yourself to become what the philosopher Aristotle called "the great-souled man". After all, with this role-playing game you can plan ahead in safety.

But the real InfoWar did already begin with you reading this game.

Robert Ingdahl


We would like to thank: InfoWar wasn't created in a vacuum, we have been inspired by many sources and borrowed ideas from all directions. Besides the resources on the Links page, we would like to mention: