Zero State Redux

Next online event: Saturday 26 August 2017
Next London event: To Be Announced
[ZS Facebook Group link]
[ZS mailing (discussion) list link]

Zero State (ZS) is currently being rebooted, and details will be posted at as things develop. In the meantime, here is a brief history of ZS and a simple outline of what’s happening now:

A Brief History of ZS

Zero State (ZS) began as a small online community in 2010, formed to explore the idea of a Virtual/Distributed State (known in some circles as a PolyState). The original ZS community drew people from Transhumanist groups, those who hoped technology could be used to address societal problems, and others from Post-Industrial alt-culture and arts scenes.

ZS officially launched on 1st May 2011 with the publication of the “Zero State Principles”, and the brief but intensive period which followed saw the community grow to around 3,000 people and the early development of multiple valuable initiatives, several of which went on to flourish elsewhere. As a kind of memetic incubator ZS 1.0 was very successful, but within four years (i.e. by late 2014) it had succumbed to a certain kind of naive idealism, which allowed people the luxury of criticising without contributing. This created an unsustainable workload for the core contributors, and the centre could not hold. The Facebook group remained, but ZS’ projects and their personnel largely migrated to other online communities.

Although ZS’ brevity wasn’t according to plan, the community had done good work and created value during its heyday, and could have simply ceased to exist with honour at that point. The world, however, has continued to hurtle forward in exactly the ways ZSers predicted, with dramatic exponential developments in both technology and global risk, problem solving capability and social inequity. There is a real need for a new Zero State community, to develop and explore options before the window of opportunity has closed.

What’s happening now?

ZS was relaunched on 4th August 2017 as a kind of Alternate Reality Game (ARG), and a notional future State existing within that game. We are using the ARG paradigm for many reasons, particularly (1) to encourage suspension of disbelief in developing ZS, and (2) because ARGs are characterised by a deliberate blurring of the line between game and reality. This allows us to develop a potent creative space which can have real effects on the world outside the game proper.

The new ZS still has the same philosophical “flavour” of the original, adhering to a revised set of Principles which define the political philosophy known as Social Futurism. In order to avoid the problems which felled ZS 1.0, the game’s core features can only be revised by those participants who have earned special privileges by their participation in and service to the ZS community. Participants are free to create their own variations and sub-projects as long as they are in accord with the Social Futurist Principles, but they must have demonstrated an extremely high level of commitment to ZS if they want to be able to alter its essential nature.

One final problem which has made this ‘reboot’ process a drawn-out one is that the work goes very slowly if it has to be completed before encouraging participants to join in. For this reason, I have decided to emphasise development of the ARG as a core aspect of the game itself, and begin with sessions which are very “meta“, in which players are really working out the details and mechanics of the game system rather than immediately immersing themselves in an established system and milieu. Early adopters will therefore help to define the experience for those who join later.

I have begun installing and configuring Evennia on a Virtual Private Server (VPS), which will serve as the game’s core environment and “backbone”; a space known as The Citadel. Starting Saturday August 26th there will be game sessions every Saturday, and live meetups/events in London once per month. Details of the first London event will be announced shortly. Initially the sessions will be focussed on ARG development, but later there will be options for immersive playing without developing, and live events in other locations around the world.

To begin, join us any time in the ZS Facebook group or mailing list. At the moment we will let anyone sign up to either list, but please bear in mind that over time only dues-paying ZS members will be able to remain in the mailing list, which is a space for core participants only, and all Facebook group members will either have to be a dues-paying ZS member, or explicitly affiliated with an in-game group led by such a person.

[ZS Facebook Group link]
[ZS mailing (discussion) list link]

About Ámon Ásentir

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