The past remains integral to us all, individually and collectively. We must concede the ancients their place... but their past is not simply back there, in a separate and foreign country, it is assimilated in ourselves and resurrected in an ever-changing present.
- David Lowenthal, The Past Is A Foreign Country, 1985
If you've been paying attention it can't have escaped your notice that I've been thinking a lot about Bloat Games' Dark Places & Demogorgons of late, their take on the "80's kids on bikes" genre that has arisen in the wake of the huge success of Netflix's Stranger Things (even though it's been around, really, since the 1980s!).
To be honest, as much as I love Stranger Things (except for that one episode... you know which I'm talking about) I didn't really see it as a genre I'd be interested in emulating at my table for a number of reasons.
Firstly, The Tuesday Knights are all British (since our sole American, Meredith, relocated to New Zealand several years ago) and so have no touchstones to that very particular, romanticised, rural lifestyle of Middle America that is central to the genre. Part of this, I suspect, is simply the fact that Britain is much, much smaller than the States and doesn't have the vast tracts of countryside separating communities.
And I don't believe we can relate to childhoods dominated by tales of urban myths, either. Coming from a more broadly secular - and cynical - society, we don't have the naively superstitious traditions that seem so prevalent in the Stephen King style home towns which populate the genre's Stateside source material.
Although we have ghost stories here, of course, they simply weren't as common (or 'important'?) as those portrayed in the books, films, and TV shows at the heart of the "kids on bikes" genre.
Secondly, although I was at grammar school for half of the '80s and then went to work as a cub reporter on our local newspaper, between my stroke and the vast amounts of beer and whiskey I consumed, I don't really have that many clear memories of those years.
There are moments, scenes, but not the glorious recall I've seen some of my friends demonstrating for those halcyon days.
However, recently, rereading some of the Bloat Games' books, it struck me that Dark Places & Demogorgons is simply a game about a fantasy world, just a fantasy world that happens to bear some resemblance to a certain period of reality in a certain part of the world.
I've never actually visited a world of elves, dwarves, and orcs, but that doesn't stop me running - or playing - a game of Dungeons & Dragons, and this is exactly the same reasoning we used for setting our superhero campaign, Knight City, in America rather than our own homeland.
We know just enough about the States to be dangerous, but not so much that we'd get bogged down squabbling over details.
And it's the same with Dark Places & Demogorgons, just with the added period element as well.
But again, that's just like Call Of Cthulhu with its default 1920s setting or Hollow Earth Expedition with the 1930s. It's just that I used to know more about the '20s and '30s than I think I've ever done about the 1980s (even though I lived through them).
And why did I know more about those decades? Because I'd researched them for gaming purposes.
So, maybe, just maybe, Dark Places & Demogorgons has legs (probably many of them). If not as an actual game to run (I'm sure some of The Tuesday Knights would balk at playing teenagers) then maybe as an outlet for my creativity, a way to hone my addled brain and get my juices flowing again.