The Anthropocene isn’t easy to wrap our heads around. After all, the Anthropocene is a new geologic age defined by overpopulation, severe loss of biodiversity, and human manipulation of the climate system. Each of those Anthropocene elements requires years of scientific research to fully understand, and the interplay between them seems complicated, to say the least. How do we begin to deal with these issues? Strangely, the Anthropocene might be the answer as well because it’s also defined by our technology and our innovations that help combat the large-scale environmental problems we seem to be rushing towards. For those of us with (perhaps) strange minds and a love of games, the potential dangers that define the Anthropocene and our methods to do battle with those dangers line up on opposite sides, much like the pieces on a chess board. It is in that spirit that I made this game: a mash-up between the all of the elements that define the Anthropocene and the addictingly fun card game Munchkin created by Steve Jackson.
Before I continue, if you are not a fan of games (and I can only assume that means you’re not a fan of fun), feel free to skip below and just have a look at the cartoons. For those who enjoy fun but aren’t familiar with Munchkin, it’s basically a parody of Role Playing Games like Dungeons and Dragons where each player assumes a race – such as Elf, Dwarf, or Halfling – and does battle with a myriad of monsters using various items collected during gameplay. The parody aspect was most appealing to me when I started playing Munchkin a little over a year ago. If you need to run away from the monster, why use the Winged Boots of Hermes when you can just use the Boots of Running Really Fast?
The more I played, the more I wanted to make a version of this game for Generation Anthropocene to bring humor to some of the things that tend to keep me up at night. The way I see it, what better way to lessen the austerity of climate change than by personifying it as a sweaty thermometer that you can fight with a zero-emissions flame thrower? Or battle the troublesome state of agriculture with an organic bananarang or a sustainable scythe?
I have spent the last month coming up with this “Expansion Pack” for Munchkin. It is not complete yet, but I wanted to share what I had. I drew all of the cartoons for the cards myself and the careful viewer might recognize some not-so-subtle references to things I like and the people that inspired me to make this (e.g., Steve Jackson, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Chris Hardwick, & Marc Maron). I should also say that while I drew all of the cartoons, many of them are heavily influenced by images and other cartoons that I found online. If you drew one of these cartoons and object to my adaptation, please let me know at our email address GenAnthropocene@gmail.com (and if you want to send along nice notes, I’d like that too).
NOTE: I am not selling any of this. I am merely offering it here as a fun game to play (You should buy the original) and as a way to bring some humor in dealing with the Anthropocene. So if you work for Steve Jackson Games, please don’t sue! I hope you enjoy the game.