We should have skipped the part with the cannibal tribe

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

Writers are hired to write the background for an ambitious game. Unfortunately, the project is canceled.
Twenty years later, they are kidnapped and brought into the live version of the world they imagined.
Faced with all kinds of dangers, they desperately try to remember what they wrote back then.

The child who fell sick

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

When the management of the greedy company decided not to compensate the backwater inhabitants of a forest despoiled by factories, a child fell sick because of the industrial waste, but survived.
For many years, the boy grew in the secluded environment of the shrinking village. Years passed. He was home-schooled but never paid much attention to books. He preferred to roam the forest with his three close friends. Together, they witnessed the expropriation and cried when the company trucks came to raze the village.
The young man relocated in an anonymous apartment in the city with his fiancée. Unemployed and angry, he began to send threatening letters. Soon after, he assassinated five key managers of the big company.
Now policemen hunt the murderer in the forest, but he seems to be elusive.
That might be due to the fact that he died while a child. All five families of the village agreed not to declare his death, instead building his identity as if he was still alive, all in the hope he could later take responsibility for their revenge. He is a scapegoat for the murders they planned and committed together.

We all won the Lottery

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

In the future, the world is an unhealthy place to live in, a warm pit of pollution. People spend their lives in a virtual world where life is easy and nobody starves. But, somehow, they are not happy. Only the rich can afford to spend more than a few days a year into the real world. Soon, the real world becomes like a First World country and the virtual world more like a Third World country. The lucky ones fear the consequences of "immigration" and brand it a problem. A process is devised to give some hope to the people stranded in virtuality: the Lottery. Somebody wins the Lottery, but his or her lover is stuck on the wrong side of existence.

Twentieth Century Games

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

This turn-based strategy game aims to circumvent the early game lack of options or late game excess of them common to growth-based strategy games by changing the perspective of the player after some key events occur. There are two or three periods in a game and the tone of each one depends radically on the outcome of the former ones. Full victory can only be achieved at the end of the last period.

First example: scientists predict Earth will be destroyed within a generation.
The first period tells the story of the mad rush between the powers that be to build an interstellar space-worthy ship. It ends when the ship leaves Earth.
In the second period, the party which launched the ship gets to rule it, while other players can play dissenters. The ship travels and its occupants go through a series of internal and external challenges. It ends when the ship arrives near a planet.
In the third period, colonization begins. The captain of the ship at the end of the arrival party has won the game.

Second example: different organizations try to take over the world to shape it according to their beliefs.
In the first period, individuals experience adventures in their formative years and build the bonds and assets that will allow them to found their organization.
In the second period, the player controls a whole organization. It ends with an organization successfully taking over the world.
In the third period, depending on who holds the power, the player tries to quash the rebels or the remnants of his organization, gone underground, try to unshackle the world.

Third example: in ancient Egypt, pharaohs rule.
The first period takes place at this time and the player rules the country against invaders and enemies. He must balance that function with the acquisition of occult power in order to last long enough to build himself a tomb able to withstand millenia.
In the second period, the dead king gets resurrected nowadays as a mummy and tries to use its assets to defeat other immortal enemies.

Genesis 19:26

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

God exists, but he is underpowered and understaffed. In 2011, he awakens from a long slumber and manages to reincarnate. He builds an organization to fulfill his long-term agenda of global peace. He does not tell the media and mundane politicians who he really is. But the truth trickles in some circles and a cadre of believers join him.
Using the Internet, God crowdsources the realization of a unique piece of art, providing specifications for the work of many artists and volunteers. Myriad of elements constitute this picture. No faithful manages to comprehend what it represents because the pieces are not put together.
That is, until God manages to broadcast it live on every screen on Earth. Then every viewer sees what Lot's wife saw, turns into salt, and global peace is achieved.

The masks of peace

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

This serious game uses augmented reality to alter the perceptions of belligerents or concerned citizens in order to help them get into the mindset and character of the opposing party. For example, Israelis (and pro-Israel people) and Palestinians (and people who define them as more favorable to Palestine) could switch roles and perceptions. The end goal is to promote peace and intelligent compromise.


This mobile shoot'em up allows players to experience a Flood of biblical proportions. An augmented reality layer of water keeps rising over the course of a few months. Actual player altitude does not matter. The screen displays dangers that need to be faced (read: shot at) solo or in groups. Dangers include madmen, sharks, mutant fishes, giant squids and the odd Deep One.
Groups can be mobile (e.g. car passengers) or immobile (people on a bench). They can take control of large vehicles such as warships and submarines.
At launch, players only have virtual feet in the water, and can use firearms. Later, the scenery changes as water submerges everything, up until the time when only the highest mountaintops emerge from the ocean.

The Great Rickroll

During a fabulous party, a baby god is born on the dance floor. Made of sweat and noise, it possesses men and women into dancing to the end of the night. But it manages to outlive the party and flees into the city. It spends the next few days wreaking havoc in the open spaces of offices or in churches. Where the godling passes, complete strangers commune to the frantic tunes of some pretty ridiculous songs. When the phenomenon reaches a police station, the government stops dismissing it and dispatches a motley team of specialists to annihilate or contain it. The agents discover they can only fight the noise elemental with different music.


One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

In prehistoric times, an alien civilization nudges humankind forward on the evolutionary path, then retreats to other regions of space to enjoy different flavors of life. Events unfold mechanically from then on. Once human technology reaches the adequate level, the master plan of the godfather race comes to fruition. It happens in a laboratory. Some of the scientists who research cures to diseases stumble upon the vaults of possibilities hidden into human genes. They unlock them and soon after devise efficient treatments.
The secondary effect, which behaves like an airborne virus, does not kick in before many months, and by then containment is not an option anymore. The human race undergoes a genetic reconfiguration on a global scale.
All the babies who get born after the scientists unleash what was hidden in the genetic vaults are not human babies. They are alien babies with alien bodies, waiting to host alien minds.
Alien machines detect these changes and alert the alien race, which sends millions of minds to Earth. These reincarnating hedonists are perfectly happy to enjoy the civilization humans built. They inherit the planet, its art, its cultures and its history. They begin to enjoy this flavor of life with the assistance of their aging parents.
Some humans object to the genocide perpetrated by their babies.

Old sin

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

A woman courts and marries a man who is the right hand of an organized crime overlord. She does so because a shadowy source told her her sister has been sold into sex slavery to the pervert boss and is detained in his fabulous mansion. The house is forbidden territory and neither police nor state will help the woman. The criminal organizes a week-long party for his 70th birthday, and invitations are given only to close associates and their spouses.
The woman has one week to rescue her sister before the party ends. But a rival of her husband performs a background check on her and tries to frame her as a policewoman. To prove her sincerity, she needs to kill somebody: one of the indentured servants of the criminal.
This servant was the shadowy source; his motivation was the love shared with the woman's captive sister.

Groundhog World

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

At six o'clock in the morning, Universal Time, time rewinds back to the day before. Everybody in the world experiences that return to the day before. Memories remain. Humanity relives what becomes known as the Day and, later, Day One.
After a few days, a new world emerges. Millions of people become criminals. Material wealth is squandered. Money is not accepted anywhere. The industry stops. A vast majority of people just spend quality time with their family. The best bottles of wine in the world are emptied every day.

Governments and good-willing people collaborate but fail to find a way to escape Day One. Some believe that the End Times are there, with nothing left after.
A few ethically advanced people discover they escape the time loop. They physically disappear from the next Day One and, instead, reach Day Two. People stuck in Day One can only speculate about their fate.
Day Two functions like Day One. It uses a version of History which begins immediately after Day One. It is populated with ethically advanced people from Day One, who remember everything, plus "natives" from Day Two who never relived Day One. Day Two "natives" can be persuaded to believe in Day One, but they can never advance to the next Day. Only saintly travelers from the former Day can hope to keep moving forward in time: there is a Day Three, a Day Four, etc. The pattern repeats. "Natives" from Day Three experienced a version of History where neither Day One nor Day Two were out of the ordinary.

A religion is founded on the belief that Day One is Hell and Day Seven is Paradise.

Time Insurance Premium

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

In this game, people from the very far future travel into the past for fun. They do so in order to experience activities banned or forgotten, such as sex and violence. They are so unaccustomed to the society of Old History that they frequently freak out and end up in a jail or in the middle of a gang fight. At any time, these people can broadcast a call for help. The characters of the players, employees of the insurance company, project their consciousness into the client's body and take control of the individual. Each game begins with the character in a new body and in some kind of mess. The time traveler is still conscious and communicates telepathically with the character, most of the times not in an helpful way. The goal of the player is to extract the time traveler from his situation.

The Domestication

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

The action takes place before men learn to make fire. The player takes control of a tribe of Homo Erectus. During a storm, lightning strikes a bush which begins to burn. One of our bold ancestors brings a firebrand back to the encampment. His or her clan begins to tend this flame which keeps beasts at bay but bites any who would come too close. Challenges include rainy or windy weather and lack of wood.
The player wins the game if the tribe learns to make fire before its lightning-made fire goes out.

The plane game

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

A young woman in Africa dreams of living in Europe. Every day, she sits on a chair by the window and pretends she is a passenger in a plane. She daydreams she is on an important international trip. She holds a dummy cell phone a street merchant once sold to her father and imagines she is using it for business.
Her parents give her a real cell phone. While she plays her plane game, the phone rings. At the other end of the line, a voice requests instructions regarding the new store in Paris.

Strange comrades

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

For decades, a branch of the Russian government has been subcontracting to a shadow partner the maintenance and operation of a secret prison. The inmates are all supernatural creatures, sentient or not, captured over four decades by a group of specialized hunters.
The director created the prison in Soviet Russia because the country used to afford an adequate level of secrecy. As a side effect, the inmates have all undergone extensive indoctrination in old school communism. Perestroika never reached the prison.
Due to recent changes in the country, the director of the prison wishes to transport all the inmates to a new and more secure site in the Pacific Ocean. That is what he tells them; the truth is, after decades of capturing supernatural creatures, he has enough supernatural souls at his disposal to power the powerful ritual that is his endgame. This will allow him to resurrect many dark spirits.
A group of inmates decide to break free in the cargo that brings them to the site of the ritual. The revolt is quelled but the core of the rebels manage to escape in a submarine. The director decides to proceed with the ritual. Undead rise from the sea, possessed by the ghosts of Nazi Germany. The director is imprisoned by the worst of the undead, who takes control of the operation. All the while the Communist dwarves, ogres and werewolves sail on their submarine to save the world and destroy Wall Street.

Edit: too uninspired as it is. Let's replace the words Russian, Russia, Germany and Wall Street by Hag, Land of the Hags, Land of the Trolls and Wall of Gold. This is a fantasy setting two millenia after the great battles between Good and Evil. Inhabitants of the world have lost their sense of purpose. All kinds of ideologies thrive in the emptiness left when the gods died.

Un Parisien invité par un banlieusard

D.G. Rha non, c'est trop loin ! Et il y a des loups !

Helping Henry

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

The player of this puzzle game is a gentle God. Her goal is to help a little boy called Henry, who feels very cold and prays for some warmth. Problem is, God is huge. She has very big hands. When she acts directly, she moves groups of galaxies. Since a wrong move would destroy Henry's planet, God must be very careful to find a way to manipulate events indirectly. She has one advantage: her breath allows her to change the direction and speed of celestial objects.
God needs to find a way to interact on the smallest possible scale. Anything less does not help Henry. She can use friction between galaxies and transport the resultant fragments wherever she wishes. She can send stray constellations towards the Milky Way. Once she begins affecting the Milky Way, she can use her divine breath to divert dangerous material from the solar system or to bring it there. Then she needs to affect the planetary scale, then the country and the very place where Henry stands.
The player wins the game if Henry feels warm again.

Summon Monster

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

The shaman of a primitive tribe on the verge of extinction manages to perform a powerful ritual. He can now use his staff to conjure a strange species of demons. These creatures come from another plane of existence. They look quite strange (what with their odd eyes and clothes), behave like they are afraid (a pretense to put would-be masters at ease) and know all manners of bizarre tricks (including useful knowledge). The demons learn to speak the language of the tribe, then explain that the spell took them away without notice from their otherworldly hell. They beg for a way out.
Of course, the queen of the tribe denies their request and makes sure these dangerous entities are properly enslaved. She orders the shaman to conjure an army of demonic servants in order to wage wars against enemy tribes. Soon, an empire is born.
At some point, the entities rebel.
These things use a different name for themselves.
They call themselves "humans".

Escape from Oak Manor

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game. 

This board game takes place in a nursing home and the surrounding city. Players are pensioners who try to escape from mean nurses and bad meals. They need to plan an evasion by the book and, once outside, to reach their old house despite their age and / or disabilities (need to use a walker, failing memory). They can then call family or friends. If an ally brings an escapee off the board before the employees of the nursing home can pick him or her, the player wins the game.

New Ravage

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

The year is 2052. The rain forest is a garden, the abyss is a swimming pool and the sky is dotted with planes and satellites. Random encounters are computer-made. Everything bears the mark, and often the stench, of civilization. What people eat, who they meet, opportunities they get, all depend on unnatural formulas and their ability to game them. Soon after nature becomes an artefact, nature becomes an artefact. The garden is a rain forest. Everything has a reason. The souls of men starve, unable to feed anymore, garroted by pregnant meanings.

A new brand of warriors, champions of unmade chaos, launch a crusade. They fight the laws with other laws and seed destruction in the tower of causality. In the end, at the very moment Earth hits the Singularity, the dark terrorists attack. A Planckian shockwave changes the rules and removes the base fuel of algorithmic civilization: artificial electricity. Without power, governments and organizations of all kinds cease to function. Access to communication networks is removed. TV and radio become silent. Whole countries starve to death.

The Return of the Meeting

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

Participants to this game take the role of corporate projects. All projects are launched at the same time. Victory belongs to the player whose project is last standing.

Projects start small and need to compete for more resources within the company. Resources include budget, employees and meeting rooms. Competition is resolved through politics. Investment in political clout is made at the expense of work on the project's product. Products are used by the company to survive. Work requires resources but decreasing returns apply on those. There is a limited amount of resources to share.

At the end of each fiscal year, each project delivers a product. Depending on revenue generated, the company sinks or survives. If it survives, it distributes new resources for the year. Projects can make alliances, lending resources in exchange of political influence. Projects with no budget get canceled.

Bad memories

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

Live action roleplaying games become mass market entertainment by the mid-30's, thanks to powerful and cheap augmented reality technology. Players can rely upon artificial "smart memories", full-blown personalities, to enhance their fun and their appreciation of the experience. Some of these players pretend to be monsters in a very violent setting where cutthroat politics are the rule. 
One day, something goes wrong at the end of a game. Players do not stop playing and instead keep acting like they are dark creatures. By the time the problem is investigated, containment is not possible anymore. The company which publishes persona has been overtaken by one ambitious "vampire" and has begun the global distribution of very, very unwholesome personalities... Rooting them out becomes the top priority of law enforcement everywhere in the world.

Iowa Bob and the Jungle of Doom

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game. 

This beat 'em up takes place on the dedicated applications or pages of a social network. The setting is made of connected player profiles. Each profile contains one location with thugs and traps, all of which can be upgraded. For example, Mark owns the jungle, David the Maya pyramid, and Maria rules over Chinatown. Every player can see what is happening on their friends' profiles.

The game features adventurers (server-controlled bots) who keep moving from place to place (from player profile to player profile), in search of wonders. Nobody controls these adventurers. Players can only try to lure them on their profiles.

When an adventurer explores a place, he faces obstacles. Should he overcome them, the player begins to reap benefits. If the adventurer fails a challenge, it leaves this profile and travels to another one in the network of friends. All the while, other players export their thugs in their friend's land to attack the adventurer. The status quo changes: the attacked adventurer flees to another place, potentially the attacker's, made easier to explore by the departure of part of the garrison.

Success in the game is measured by the amount of time spent by the adventurer in one's land and the value of bounty to be found there. The treasures allow the player to expand and improve their ancient tomb or jungle or kingdom of adventure, etc. Danger and value of a land grow together: a better place has more dangerous guardians and fiercer assassins.

The problem with the ladies

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game. 

It begins with a few weird rumors. A disease that only affects women. Quickly, the rumors acquire the strange quality of unexpected cataclysms. The disease is highly contagious. The women lose their mind. The first few officially diagnosed cases create an official panic.
All around the world, the minds of afflicted women begin to revert to primitive and even animal thinking. Only the most basic functions remain. Open the fridge. Eat. Left unattended, victims do not manage to procure food and become aggressive, not unlike starving dogs.

Only one thing prevents or reverts this degradation. If a sick woman experiences a climax, she regains all capacities. Women need one climax a day to remain functional.

Pandemic. The economy crumbles as people realize that no amount of emotional blackmail manages to induce women back into sanity and the workstation, let alone the kitchen. Children beg for attention. Wars stop. The disease becomes the only event, the permanent headline.
After two weeks, the world smells. The United Nations launch a global plan to teach sex best practices; everywhere in the world, leaflets about masturbation are circulated to a wide audience in just about every language. Everybody and her cousin hire men and women skilled in the ways to properly stimulate climaxes. Wild becomes the norm. Men cook.

Scientists announce they are about to find a cure. Their conference ends in a boom. A faction of female terrorists threaten any who would follow their example.

On the long run, the number of climaxes in the world raises to unprecedented levels. Thanks to the effort, women get back to work.

Paradise 2873

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

This "murder party" takes place in 2873. Humankind has ceased to grow in numbers: having kids is out of fashion and people mostly do not die anymore, barring the rare freak accident. A consequence of this situation is that souls in Paradise cannot reincarnate as freely as before. As the waiting gets longer, morale is at an all-time low among souls who want to make a comeback on the karmic wheel or are just dead bored. Pun intended.

The players' characters are souls of dead people, famous and infamous, who hail from all continents and all eras. They have all applied to be reincarnated in a new man soon to be born. Only the characters of the players remain in Paradise. They must convince the judge to pick them for reincarnation, or else they might very well have to wait millenia for a new chance at life.

Then something ugly and almost unheard of in Paradise happens to the most promising soul. The judge is at a loss. He cannot allow a rotten soul to infect a newborn person and he does not know who is responsible of whatever happened to the nice soul. He demands that the candidates lead the investigation and unmask the miscreant soul.

To find out the truth and accomplish their personal goals, characters can use all kinds of powers depending on their soul's past lives. At the end of the game, whoever scores the most for the judge is allowed back into the world of the living.
The judge has a swell soul. Oh, and he used to be [insert name of your favorite historical villain] and later [your best friend] back then.

I know where you live

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

A serial killer targets people whose private information is involuntarily or unknowingly made public. He views himself as the angel of everything that is wrong with society.
For decades, he used to kill people whose phone number was disclosed on TV or in movies. He privileged victims whose numbers were not advertised as real numbers. TV and radio drama writers who used dummy numbers set aside for this very purpose instead of random numbers unwittingly saved many lives.
Nowadays, the killer has gone digital. He spends time on Facebook and forums searching for the perfect victim: somebody who sets strong privacy parameters which end up circumvented by a third party in a big way, with no real harm intended.


One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I write each day an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game. Ok, this one is for a very long elevator ride.

The game is a pen-and-paper roleplaying game, of the kind you play with friends around a table conquered by geek paraphernalia: many-sided dice, soda, dragon-shaped corkscrew, etc. The players tell the stories of their characters. One of them, the game master, leads the game with the help of rulebooks, shielding his secrets from the players with a beautiful game screen, while his friends try not to spill coffee over their character sheets. Depending on design choices, a game master can be unnecessary.

Somewhere in the room lies a computer. It records everything that is said during the game. The software uses voice and visual recognition to identify speakers. It associates each of them to a character sheet, a profile, a history.

The software makes sense of what is said. It writes down the story of the recorded game along with relevant context, both internally and in regard to the game world. The software anonymizes the story and adds it to the unified online repository of the game. Personal data, including the audio files, can be saved on site, while the story with the names of the characters is uploaded. Should they choose to do so, the players can edit their content before the uploading. All players of the game share a setting and contribute to a common corpus of background and adventure material.

At any moment, players can ask the computer about previous events, background information or unexpected events. They can search using vocal or textual queries. The computer can also initiate the interaction: when certain conditions are met while a game is being recorded, such as when specific words are pronounced or when specific situations happen in the game, the computer requests the attention of the players (with light, sound and/or text). The software is programmed not to disrupt the flow of the game. The players can set parameters to disallow suggestions of content or to agree to a large degree of interaction.
If authorized, the computer provides content with voice, other sounds, texts and/or graphics. The content it delivers is relevant to the characters' adventures: a description of the inn they enter, an earthquake in the city where they stand, etc.

Players can rate downloaded content to promote it or advise against using it. They can also define how much they wish to contribute: they can forbid their characters and content from being used by other players. Software identifies when user-created content is re-used by other players, and grades it accordingly. Clearly advertised algorithmic rules are put in place server-side to deal with content that is not deemed relevant. For example, the software counts the points of connection between the user content and published background. Completely unthematic content is not pushed to other players, though it remains highlighted for its creators.

Players can order books on demand. Stories of the adventures of their characters typically constitute the bulk of these books, which makes them unique. The books can be tailored with great finesse and little to no human supervision. They serve as source material and as albums of sentimental value with their tales of glorious feats and funny anecdotes. The players can also download enhanced character sheets before each instance of the game.

The game developer acts as a top-level curator for the community. He peruses automatically preselected user-created content and highlights the one he believes worthier of attention. He edits books about topics of interest. These books can be further personalized by players.

The business model of the game relies on a fee to connect to the server. Uploading content that ends up being valued by the community entitles to a lower fee, down to the point when the user gets rewarded (e.g. with books).
The game is also part of a larger ecosystem: it is a object of experiences and a proof of concept for innovative collaboration in a professional environment, which can lead to the licensing of the solution.

Super Pills

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

One day, strange packages, like the ones with action figures, fall from the sky into the schoolyard during break time, while the children are playing. A crowd of kids gathers. Each package features an illustration, a few short instructions and a colored pill. If eaten, each pill procures a super-power!
After a few seconds, the children all rush to grab a package, unwrap it and swallow the magical pill. A few fistfights erupt. Some noses get slightly bloodied and much crying ensues.
Powers are so much fun: some children can now fly, play marbles with their mind or turn invisible at will. Unlucky kids are stuck with useless powers, such as becoming a math genius or turning wood into some kind of a yellow metal.
After a memorable incident involving a were-elephant practicing her newfound power of transformation, teachers prohibit the use of powers in the classroom.
After some time, children discover that the pills only provide a limited number of uses. The ones who used theirs up to amaze friends are the first ones to lose special abilities.
In the end, all but one exhaust their allotted magic. Only one kid decides not to spend his last use.The kids speak about the events for some time, then they forget about the whole episode and they move on to new things.
The last kid grows and becomes a parent. It is bedtime. The parent tells his story to his child who keeps switching the flashlight back on instead of sleeping. Now, is the child convinced trying to read under the blanket would be futile with a parent who can magically know what's going on?

The grass is green

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

This serious game aims to help citizens from around the world to get a sense of what immigration entails on a personal level, beyond statistics and generalizations. Its goal is not to discourage or encourage immigration, but to build comprehension of this issue in order for citizens to make informed choices and improve relevant policies, and to give would-be emigrants an idea of what possibly awaits them should they choose to follow this path down.

Reports from reliable organizations and testimonies of people who emigrated or tried to emigrate constitute source material. The game puts a focus on the situations where the standards of human rights are not respected. (French citizens immigrating to Ireland are not writhing in pain and despair.)
In the context of the game, the player plays a character with an origin, a status in society, a reason to leave home and a destination. After the set-up, he begins the adventure and needs to deal with challenges such as dilemmas and timed questions which require quick thinking.
Legal as well as illegal methods of immigration are explored. Good outcomes are a possibility. Depending on the source material, possible bad outcomes can include being robbed, beaten, killed, enslaved, raped, forced into prostitution or becoming a tired wreck of a human being, denied a way to overcome his misery. The game highlights risks but also the ways to alleviate them. It describes situations truthfully in order to dissipate misbeliefs, formerly identified in the source material. For example, it could highlight the gap between an utopian vision of Europe and the unfriendliness and insensitivity administration and society sometimes display in some parts of it. Or it could pinpoint the crucial differences between the culture and values of the immigrant and those of the target country.

The game is first developed for mobile phones. The game mechanisms rely on sound, on graphics and on touch. Texts are used as little as possible in the interface but can constitute challenges in the context of the game.

The wisdom of dead people

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

In the future, the social network gathers almost the total sum of human interactions. People show so much about themselves on so long a timeframe that computers become able to essentially mimic them. This function is useful on many levels and widely used. People get rewarded for building the product and the tool that their persona is.
As a result, dead people can still interact with living ones, or look like they can. They pass Turing's Test. Orphans express grief to parents, partners ask advice to dead associates, politicians flock to deceased leaders in hope of arbitration and guidance. Dead people's memories and opinions become an ever growing part of society. The persona have no solid legal status, but they still need to be convinced like normal human beings before giving out their knowledge and love.
Another stage results from the thirst for life extension. Processes are devised to assure that everybody gets a chance to live a very long time. When people die, cybernetic implants in the skull inject chemicals designed to preserve the brain. The connections to the network remain, the best to keep the brain active and to monitor its health. Dead people, assisted with their persona, are granted rights. Policies are put in place to protect their interests. The influence of people who passed away grows in the society.
At some point, dead people outnumber living people. They perform many functions with robotic bodies. The interests of the living are less and less of a concern.
In the end, to prevent them from pulling the plug, robotic death squads kill every human being still alive, making sure their brain is not damaged and greeting them into the community of the dead.


Category: Novel
Number of pages: 416
Language: English
Author(s): Matt Forbeck
Publisher: Angry Robot
Year of publication: 2010 (this edition 2011)
ISBN: 978-0-85766-002-2
In a not so distant future, very rich people and irreplaceable employees regularly save their memories in a computer. When they die, they wake up in a new and young cloned body. Ronan Dooley, the most famous Secret Service agent, wakes up and investigates his own murder in a snuff movie. Problem: he missed a memory back-up or two. Thriller ensues.

The author of Amortals, super-creative Matt Forbeck, readily admits it bears similarities with a Takeshi Kovacs novel. You would not be the first reader to be strongly reminisced of the excellent series by Richard K. Morgan. Forbeck got the idea before learning about Altered Carbon, but neither setting is the stuff of prophecies and mind-blowing originality. It's like The Matrix. The Wachowski brothers did not pioneer any grand concept, but we can appreciate the way they told the story. In that respect, Amortals is a very enjoyable summer read. It is packed with action and reads like a Hollywood blockbuster script.
Matt Forbeck is a family man and it shows. Unlike rogue soldier Takeshi Kovacs, Ronan Dooley is not entirely separated from his still mortal family. His interactions with his descendants give us an opportunity to ponder about what could happen to the whole family concept in a future with extended life. Already, some people can meet their great-great-grandparents. What happens when you interact with a distant descendant who looks twice your age? I would be curious to read more stories exploring this theme. When childhood becomes but the faintest of memories, is something lost in the process that needs to be compensated? At which point does incest (sex with your descendants) become OK ? What about depriving our descendants of the chance to elevate themselves by staying in charge?
Amortals touches upon this last aspect. Amortals, like the rich people in Altered Carbon, confiscate power and wealth. But Amortals takes place in a much nearer future, where change is still somewhat possible, which makes it less of a film noir and more of a thriller. The present time is always in danger of becoming hostage to people from the past who have no interest in a different future.

World of Bots

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

In a distant planet, semi-autonomous robots, or "bots", engage in free-for-all colonization. They mine, transform, build, trade, loot, search and destroy. This is the setting for an online game where players manage bots and give them sets of instructions to follow 24/7. The game only requires players to decide what they want their bots to do; day and night, bots actively pursue the goals set for them, including killing other bots. Players need not be logged on for actions to take place, which limits the load on the servers.

Botting software is not the problem but the norm; and its unbridled use a key selling point. An in-game programming interface and a framework to expand upon it with third-party add-ons is provided. The use of in-game tools designed to manipulate bots is authorized and encouraged. The use of out of game software is discouraged for security reasons until said software is green-lighted.

Once upon a crime

One pitch a day: in August of 2011, I dedicate twenty minutes each day to writing an "elevator pitch" for a story or a game.

In the future, there are no more prisons. The criminally insane exist only as pure minds. The nickname of their virtual home is Hell, but it is a pleasant hell, a quasi-perfect replica of reality designed to prevent them from hurting other people. It is not an empty place; its inhabitants do coexist with projections of people from "Paradise" but they are, of course, unable to physically hurt them in the real world. Paradise is our world enhanced with augmented reality. Normal people carry augmented reality devices which enable them to interact safely with sex predators, religious wackos and criminal masterminds. People from Hell are allowed back into reality when their minds heal and they atone from their crimes. The less discrepancies between their version of reality and the actual reality, the quicker the get out. Some take a long time, but their rampages cause only illusory pain.
The hero is in Hell, but something is wrong with Paradise. Redemption seems to become impossible; Heaven's gate is closed. The inhabitants of Hell seem to forget they do live in a fake world, to believe they live in Paradise. The hero wants to investigate what happened in the real world, if there is such a thing...

La naissance d'un tourbillon

En relisant le premier tome de l'Histoire du XXe siècle de Bernstein et Milza, j'ai été vivement intéressé par le chapitre 5, qui traite des tensions internationales au début du siècle dernier et de la façon dont se mit en route la "machine infernale" que fut la Très Grande Guerre.

Après la défaite de la France à Sedan face à l'Empire prussien, pour se protéger comme par volonté de revanche et d'expansion, un système d'alliances et de contre-alliances se met progressivement en place, jusqu'à la constitution de la Triple Alliance opposée à la Triple Entente. Les nations qui composent ces deux blocs s'engagent dans une course aux armements. Parmi ces pays, l'Autriche-Hongrie a ceci de magnifique qu'elle abrite de nombreux peuples ; et ceci de terrible qu'elle en est, pour beaucoup, la prison. Des tensions centrifuges mettent en péril l'empire des Habsbourg.
L'assassinat de l'archiduc François-Ferdinand en 1914 est pour l'Autriche-Hongrie le casus belli qu'elle espère. Elle adresse à la Serbie un ultimatum conçu pour être refusé ; elle attend pour l'envoyer que les dirigeants français, alliés des Serbes, embarquent en bateau, devenant de ce fait injoignables. L'objectif des Austro-Hongrois est de se débarrasser une fois pour toutes de ce petit pays qui fédère la soif d'indépendance des Slaves du Sud. L’Allemagne soutient cette démarche. Ses dirigeants, même s'ils ne souhaitent pas forcément une guerre majeure en Europe, jugent préférable qu'elle éclate avant que la Russie n'achève son programme de réorganisation de l'armée. Le régime tsariste, affaibli par des guerres perdues, reculades stratégiques et tensions sociales, estime, lui, qu'il joue sa survie dans le drame balkanique. Il n'abandonne pas son client serbe lorsque l'Autriche-Hongrie passe à l'attaque. Ensuite, les alliances jouent et l'Europe entre en guerre, puis entraîne une bonne partie du monde dans son gouffre de malheur. La guerre progresse et acquiert une sorte de vie propre, entraînant le recul des droits des peuples et la prise du pouvoir effectif par les militaires dans plusieurs pays belligérants. La paix ne survient pas lorsque l'absurdité du gâchis devient criante. Seule la victoire militaire d'un camp sur l'autre entraîne in fine l'arrêt des hostilités. L'armée allemande épuisée est autorisée à revenir chez elle où gronde la révolte : les élites criminelles, qui ont prouvé leur incapacité à servir leurs concitoyens, ne veulent pas d'une Allemagne communiste.

Le déclenchement de la Première Guerre Mondiale était logique et prévisible ; les paysages lunaires de Verdun, où une génération fut jetée dans l'abîme, étaient inimaginables. La Première Guerre Mondiale fut un désastre pour notre espèce, un échec pour l'Humanité. Aucun progrès scientifique, aucune évolution sociale ne peuvent compenser les souffrances infligées à tant de millions d'êtres humains. C'est une tache dans notre histoire qui a rendu possibles d'autres taches, en créant de nouveaux précédents dans l'horreur. Sans cet épisode, notre monde serait plus heureux.

Quels événements pourraient de nos jours provoquer la déchéance de notre civilisation ? Où est la ligne de front, si visible en 1914 ? Quelles sont les pièces d'une machine infernale à la Docteur Folamour ?

La situation est différente. Les États-nations existent encore et, seuls, disposent d'armées et d'armes de destruction massive, mais leur marge de manœuvre paraît moindre qu'il y a cent ans. Ce sont des colosses étouffés qui n'ont ni l'envie, ni les capacités de s'extraire d'un système international fondé sur les échanges massifs. La paix mondiale est "too big to fail". La composante belliciste de nos cultures interconnectées est un artefact, incomparable avec le nationalisme agressif qui aboutit à la "Der des Ders". L'espérance de vie a augmenté, l'expérience aussi donc et, qui sait, peut-être la sagesse.

Les menaces d'aujourd'hui sont des monstres mous, presque impossibles à appréhender : un trou dans le ciel et le réchauffement de l'air ; une destruction utilisant nos canaux de communication ; la capacité de certaines idées contraires à notre intérêt à acquérir une vie propre ; un voile sur nos âmes. De plus en plus de personnes sont à mêmes d'accéder à des connaissances et à des ressources (micro-industrielles, médiatiques ou autres) susceptibles d'être employées à des activités dévastatrices. Les futurs Verdun pourraient être radioactifs ou semés de nanomachines terroristes ; nos esprits mêmes pourraient ressembler à des champs d'obus.

La Très Grande Guerre nous montre qu'il ne faut pas abandonner ses marges de manœuvre, car la politique du pire ne fonctionne pas. La guerre n'est pas un outil mais un dieu dont les belligérants sont les jouets.