Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Freaky Discovery of the Weekend – and Using Urban Mythology as Game Plots

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 12, 2010

Okay, I thought I was having my leg pulled actually following up on what sounded like a freaky-deaky conspiracy theory, but after being told that the signature line on all my checks wasn’t actually a line at all here in the U.S., I decided to play the sucker and go ahead and inspect the line with a magnifying glass.

Yeah, sure enough, it’s “Micro Print.”  That’s what the “MP” at the side of the signature line stands for. All this time, I thought it was just a line. Didn’t help that this discovery was accompanied by a strange explanation for why it’s there (and the reason the checking account name is always in all-caps) that made my head spin.  Was there any truth in that? Heck if I know. But it kinda sounds like it could have been dreamed up by the same kind of financial geniuses that brought us unregulated runaway credit default swaps and the subprime mortgage collapse. While it’s not exactly sinister stuff, it is definitely on the weird side.

However, to bring this (slightly) back to gaming, you know what would be kinda cool? Taking stuff like this and working it into a bizarre conspiracy-theory plot of a game. Maybe one with fantastical elements. Like, what if instead of saying, “Authorized Signature,” the microprint actually had some wording of arcane (or diabolic) impact? Just enough reality to be freaky, but solid fodder for something a little different from standard elf-and-orc fare.

Why not use some modern urban mythology as a storyline? We’ve got tons of it. Snopes.com and Mythbusters could be a wonderful launch point for a hundred storylines that would be unique yet feel familiar to players.  Throw in some creative twists (such as was done in the National Treasure movies and Dan Brown’s books) or even older mythology for extra flare. It doesn’t take much to make a fascinating little MacGuffin.

Filed Under: Design, Geek Life - Comments: 6 Comments to Read

  • Talorc said,

    It’s just for fraud protection. Basically to be able to do microprint more than 10 years ago you needed a big ass EXPENSIVE set of plate making / printing kit. So it was a barrier to entry for small time / backyard counterfeiters – they couldn’t afford (or source) the expensive equipment easily.

    I have not been following it recently, but I suspect you can probably easily do microprint on some of the modern easily available small production colour laser printers with 2400dpi+ resolutions.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Yeah, I just found out about it accompanied with a toned-down version of the strawman corporation theory. Divorced from some of the nutjob rhetoric, it almost makes sense on some levels, but it’s probably because I’ve been exposed by way too much of the legal fiction of convenience that is performed to make everyday commerce work. Setting up a business and an escrow account, having a father-in-law in banking, trading options, and buying real estate has made me familiar enough with the kind of bizarre legal constructs generated to make things happen. So if there was anything behind it, it wouldn’t surprise me much.

    But really, it was just kinda freaky to realize that what I’d thought was just a straight black line all these years was actually text undetectable to the naked eye.

  • cl said,

    Now we, and by we I mean the evil banking industry for which I work are just doing the magnetic ink and microprinting with laser jet printers with special ink. So that level of counterfitting is pretty easy to get. And probably easier to apply since we aren’t even sending the originals to the Federal Reserve…we are scanning the items and if we need to recreate them we are using the printer.

    But there is still room for some nifty banking related conspiracies if you want to include the Federal Reserve…lots of Urban Myth and nasty truth in there.

    By the way…you should probably thank your government for the subprime mortage collapse as it was all there doing to begin with. Hate to rant…but if banks and mortgage companies were’t forced to find ways to lend money to people who banks knew would default we wouldn’t have been in this mess. Thank your senator and congressman and the last two administrations for that good ol’ Community Reinvestment Act. I am just sayin.

    I can’t defend the credit default swaps…I mean…I can the first half…it’s just insurance…but letting anyone take out a policy on anything that could default is just legalized gambling on an internation scale.


    P.S. I don’t think my industry is evil, it really isn’t even close to be as bad as the looters and parasites would have you believe.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Heh – my father-in-law is a banker, so I get a little bit of second-hand exposure. And I definitely put the Community Reinvestment Act high on the list of culprits for the subprime mortgage fail that acted as a catalyst for the current recession / depression. But it was the tip of the iceberg.

    And yeah, the version of the theory I heard about was tied in directly to the Federal Reserve 😉 I do a little bit of trading and it’s hard to avoid the gold bugs voicing their opinion on why “fiat currency” is ultimately doomed. I do not share their opinion on gold being the natural receptical of value, but they do make some pretty good & informed points. Considering the tendency of said types of currencies launching off into hyperinflation, it doesn’t seem they are completely wrong.

    Ultimately, it seems like there’s enough real monkey business going on in the world financial systems to allow anybody seeking a conspiracy to find a … uh, gold mine. 🙂

  • Talorc said,

    Oh yeah, I forgot about the magnetic ink, so everyone can still shove the cheques through 1960’s MICR technology. Seriously the technology behind the physical cheque (or Check) system is so out of date it is ridiculous, we all should have moved to electronic payment systems ages ago.

    I prefer to point the finger at the repeal of Glass Steagal (s?) and the fact you boys over there turned the Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns etc of the world into giant unregulated gambling houses as my conspiracy theory de jour about the sub prime crash. All those crappy regional lending banks would not have been able to lend what they did without Goldman Sachs etc out the back taking the crap mortgages off their hands and stuffing them into sh*tty CDO’s like Timberwolf.

    Throw in algorithmic trading – whoever has the fastest computer and trading program wins by milliseconds and just keeps churning that market for peanuts every day, adding absolutely zero productive capacity to the economy and just shafting the people trying to make real productive investments.

    Then add some conspiracy theories about the ramping of the oil market etc and you have a full house of financial conspiracies!

    Dont get started on the gold bugs. They are just as “passionate” as No Mutants Allowed 🙂

  • slenkar said,

    “we all should have moved to electronic payment systems ages ago.”

    Thats been the plan of the conspirators all along!

    Larry Summers repealled glas steagal and if you read his wikipedia page you will see he is a shady character

    including this little gem:”During Summers’ presidency at Harvard, the University entered into a series totalling US$3.52 billion of interest rate swaps, financial derivatives that can be used for either hedging or speculation.[39] Summers approved the decision to enter into the swap contracts as president of the university and as a member of Harvard Corp., “the university’s seven-member ruling body” which bears “the school’s ultimate fiduciary responsibility.”[40] By late 2008, those positions had lost approximately $1 billion in value. ”

    “In 2009, he was tapped by President Obama to be the director of the White House National Economic Council.[2][50]”