Tolkien invented his world so as to have a sufficiently complex backdrop with which to play with linguistic theory. My brother has been running a similar project, “playing games with reality’s rules”, over at Sedes Draconis, a multi-civilization, biologically complex thought space. Most recently his Gnomish Culture Test was accepted to the pantheon of culture tests maintained by Zompist.
Whats a culture test?You can think of culture tests as being similar to those “Which X are you?” tests (e.g. “Which revolution are you?”) but better thought out, and without the cute banner that you can hang on your website. Zompist wrote the first one in response to the claim, “There is no American culture”, and it took off from there. Are you American, Canadian, Dutch, or Verdurian?
Culturally Biased Conceptions of TerrainI’ve also been meaning to blog Aidan’s critique of Civilization’s terrain model. Civ is one of the most amazing computer games ever, and Civ III improved many of its basic assumptions, providing for more realism and flexibility. However it has a few ideas which they haven’t gone back to re-examine over the years. Like the very common Grassland terrain.
I think what is meant by Grassland is the kind of well-watered, productive terrain common in the American East, and Europe. But. Such terrain is not naturally occurring.Lots more good stuff, on grasslands, irrigation, rainfall, and the surprising scarcity of iron. If you’ve ever played Civ, and even if you haven’t, interesting stuff.