The Influence of Star Trek

Yesterday I grabbed a copy of the newly-published Gamemaster’s Guide for the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game and started reading. Although the book (and the companion Player’s Guide) seem to be primarily aimed at newcomers to the franchise, there were a couple of key passages that illuminated the huge ways in which Star Trek has influenced the way I think about humanity and philosophy.

Unlike other science fiction properties that might present a dystopian future or a dark, brooding noir type of world, or settings in which endless war is a daily fact of life for that universe’s inhabitants, Star Trek offers a universe of morality, hope, and joy in the wonders to be explored.

STA Gamemaster’s Guide, page 9

For me, this was the most strongly differential point between Star Trek and almost all other science-fiction universes. The sense of hope and progression – even if it blatantly steps over the line into scientism and positivism at times – influenced my general sense that the world could be a better place.

Star Trek imagines a post-scarcity future in which, “all individuals are free to pursue whatever interests or careers they care to set their minds to.” For me, this is significant blind-spot that trips me up every time the UK population goes to the polls… but I am unashamedly hopeful.

Star Trek presents a future where everyone is welcome and accepted and considered equal no matter their species, gender identity, sexual preferences, faith, body shape, or other unique traits. Differences among individuals are embraced and celebrated, and discrimination and exclusion on any basis is prohibited.

STA Gamemaster’s Guide, page 9

With my own stated reason to get out of bed every day being motivated by the desire to create communities of discovery in which people can feel accepted, I always felt that this – most explicitly stated in the Vulcan concept of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) – has been influential upon me.

As a young oursider who was bullied as a teenager for being (among many things) a disappointment to family, socially awkward, colour-blind, emotionally confused, spiritually alive, and politically leftist… well, Star Trek taught me that these were traits that would eventually be embraced by humanity. I continue to hope for some specific social values that the nurturing relationships of Star Trek taught me.

There are many other things that I love about Star Trek, including all the cool tech and amazing alien species – but, at heart, the show was always a pattern for a better society and a hopeful future. While I always enjoyed the dystopia of Blade Runner, the moral clarity of Star Wars, and the violent horror of the Alien franchise, in the end there is only really one television- and movie-inspired universe I would deeply like to visit: Star Trek.

Maybe it’s because it’s such a rich and deeply geeky universe that – in my experience – others have shied away from joining in. Or perhaps it’s just too hopeful for many. I have always found it hard to bring to the gaming table. Now that I am increasingly realising the shortness of my own existence, I feel a strong urge to find a way to share my love for the deeper roleplaying opportunities offered by the Star Trek universe. I think it’s time to come out of that closet and explore the gaps between the official canon.

I realise, as I think do the authors of these two new books for Star Trek Adventures, that many new players of roleplaying games have only recently discovered or even not yet discovered this 50-plus-year-old science-fiction universe.

If you are open to exploring it, the Player’s Guide has been explicitly written to help new hands find their place in the core ideas of the Star Trek franchise. I believe it’s worth a look and I hope to see you out there, beyond the final frontier, “where no man has gone before.”

Game on!

One comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Star Trek always set out from the point of view that Humanity made it. We sorted our shit out and now live in a post scarcity utopia of science, discovery and exploration. It studied Humanity’s flaws by comparing the Federation to the backward aliens of the week that represented Humanity in our day and age.
    It’s a show that said look how cool the future will be if we stop being assholes. It was never perfect and often had nice, neat, overly-simplified middle-class solutions to problems (I mean, it only had 45 minutes to resolve a centuries-long situation), but it gave me hope whilst entertaining me with thrilling adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

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