Dress For the Job You Want

People have had a long week, everyone’s tired, but we still want to do a little gaming-something-something. This looks like a job for… IN THIS WORLD!

Our topic: Clothing! We were doing the normal brainstorming and we had some good topics (but also “trains!!!”) but when Caroline threw out Clothing I knew that was the one I wanted. I’m always looking for ideas that hit that sweet spot where physical culture and human behavior interact, because I think that makes for really tasty worlds.

If you’re not familiar with In This World, the idea is that you start off with true statements about your topic in the real world and then use those as springboards to say how your fictional world is not the same. And instead of making just one world, you make several, rapid-fire, so you get to explore a bunch of different takes on the same starting point.

We had barely finished our statements and Marc was ready to come out of the gate strong: no, in this world the statement “Uniforms identify profession” isn’t true. You dress for the job you WANT.

I could see him wavering between making a realistic world, where we’d have ways of distinguishing between real firefighters and people who just put on a firefighter outfit that morning, but then he made the leap and said, nope, there’s no way to tell them apart. Full hijinks, which was clearly the best of all choices. Everyone gets to chase their dreams, every single day.

For the next world, Caroline swung us back in a more grounded direction, where the statement “Clothing is made of natural or synthetic textiles” is not true: we have abandoned synthetics in our clothing entirely, choosing sustainably grown materials and outfits made to last much longer. It’s a day-after-tomorrow future where climate change has almost gotten the better of us, but we’re working together to bring the balance back, and wearing cozy outfits in the process. Repair instead of replace, and no plastics in our shirts, thank you very much.

So now it was time for me to kick-off world three, but I was ready, because Caroline’s had got me thinking: what if clothing wasn’t made of either natural *or* synethetic textiles? What if it was made of… nothing? Instead of wearing physical clothing at all, people are robed in holograms of clothing. It looks like you’re dressed but it’s just light, coming from a tiny projector on a bracelet or necklace. And you can swap to a new outfit at the press of a button.

Caroline: “But they’re wearing underwear or something under the holograms?” Me: thinks about my commitment to the concept. No. No underwear. Nothing. That’s the idea. Yes, that means everyone is just sitting bare ass on the same park benches. Caroline: “Thanks, I hate it.” Luckily it’s all future-perfect domed cities, so no one has to worry about getting cold…

Boom, three worlds and we’re done, all in a little over an hour.

Shifting Into Human Gear

There’s this thing that happens every time we make a world, where you have the starting idea, the main concept, but then as people add detail we start to really tinker with the implications. We shift down gears from big picture to nuance. That’s often where the real human vibes kick in.

Like in the second world, instead of people not wanting to be seen wearing the same outfit twice, it’s the exact opposite, because wearing the same outfit over and over again (and keeping it in good shape) shows that you are environmentally conscious and not being a wasteful consumer. You could cynically call it virtue signaling except it’s not just a signal, it’s actually doing the right thing.

And in the third world, with the hologram clothes, we added that people can change their outfit at the click of a button, but not only can people change their look on a whim they will often see someone else who has a look they like and immediately imitate it. Fashions ripple through passersby on the street.

But we never talked about anyone actually *creating* those designs in the first place. Which raises the question, are we just cycling through some huge digital catalog, with so many options that we don’t even know what’s possible until we see it on someone else? Is everyone just copying other people’s TikTok moves instead of making something new?

And in the first world, since everyone has dreams of being someone else and putting on outfits to match, yes, sexy dress-up roleplay is everyone’s bedroom kink. You’ve got a pile of different uniforms stuffed in your closet, so “sexy firefighter” or whatever is always at your fingertips. It’s like a college Halloween party all year round.

Which is trashy and funny, but also kind of bittersweet when you remember that anyone who has a particular uniform at one time actually wanted to be that thing. Their dress-up fantasies might be coming from a much more sincere place.

That’s something we’ve seen time and again in our In This World games, that even the most light-hearted, funny world can shine a genuine light on human nature. And I love it.

    Ben Robbins | March 12th, 2024 | , | show comments