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Aesopica Fantastica

Didactic Virch Experiences

Cock&Fox Crane Frog King Tortoise&Hare Travellers&Purse Wolf&Kid Fox&Crow
Images from Milo Winter

Aesopica Fantastica is a collection of virches used as a didactic tool for the express purpose of teaching and reinforcing morals. Other common names for the series are Xin Daodejing and Virches of Virtue. Due to its widespread use, there is no one single official compilation of virches that form an Aesopica Fantastica. Instead, inclusion and exclusion of individual virches are based on the specific criteria of presenters. The number of Aesopica Fantastica in all likelihood matches or exceeds the number of ideologies present in the Terragen Sphere.

Over the ages, numerous source materials have been used as inspiration for the virch series. A partial list of popular works that have been adapted: Tao Te Ching, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Aesop's Fables, Plutarch's Lives, The Parables of Jesus, Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Way to Wealth, The Book of Virtues, Zed Ought's The Vec with The Heart of Steel, and Handbook for the Popular Su. These materials are updated and expanded to better fit the media virch format, modifying the setting and plot for the benefit of the audience. Often well known characters that appear in local folklore will be incorporated. This tradition can be seen in the continuing popularity of virches including Anansi the Spider, Baseline Bob, Br'er Rabbit, Daffy the Trickster Duck, and Tarnaron from Manaran.

A virch contained in an Aesopica Fantastica is constructed as an open world for instructing, informing or improving participants. Often an individual virch scenario will be focused on a single maxim or koan. These virches allow the exploration of important life lessons in a controlled environment with minimal risk involved. Difficulty and conformity to reality change according to expectations of the target audience and can vary from painstakingly realistic to whimsical surrealist simulations. A virch concludes once the moral of the story is learned or reinforced.


Frog&Ox Ants&Grasshopper
Images from Milo Winter

This virch series allows participants the opportunity to see the consequences of their actions and how these actions affect their surroundings. By using virch technology, Aesopica Fantastica can adjust the subjective viewpoint of participants to see consequences that wouldn't normally be immediately apparent to a participant in real life. Usually these manipulations include the ability to view actions from the perspective of other individuals in the virch, slowing down time to pick up on subtle details, fast forwarding to a distant time point, and allow for repeating a scenario to see how variations in behavior affect the outcome. This manipulation of perception, a trait shared with other series, has been occasionally reported to trigger a momentary sense of disorientation, colloquially called virch vertigo.

Besides the concerns of virch vertigo, extra care must be taken with design and maintenance of Aesopica Fantastica compared with other virches. By the very didactic nature of the experience participants are highly susceptible to suggestions and stimuli while inside. If fidelity is not maintained, errors may accumulate in the didactic structure of the virch. These errors can manifest in many forms from undetectable to exo-toxic memes. An infamous example of the latter was the shoddily created Jack and the Beanstalk (v Sigma) operated in the Negentropist system of Irrmorella. Design flaws caused an increase in violent crimes against Goliaths and culminated in a terrorist plot to cut down a functioning space elevator. The correlation was only detected, and soon afterwards corrected, by godlet intervention. A more benign version of these errors can be observed in the occasional baffling system-wide fads of glass slippers and red riding hoods. The need for careful design usually necessitates Aesopica Fantastica be created and modified only by certified guilds and unions of virchbuilders or other reputable sources. Another method to ensure quality is that a participant can only enter an operating virch with active supervision.

While the series was initially used to supplement the academic education of children, the technology was rapidly adapted for use in other situations. One of the earliest adaptations was the core virches in the Virtual Interaction Assessment & Analysis Assay (VI3A), employed as a psychological diagnostic test for early detection of aberrant and asocial behaviors. The virch series has also found use in introducing newcomers of all ages to the ideology of a community, as in the rehabilitation of criminals and integration of immigrants and refugees into a society. A few authoritarian systems go further and require all inbound travelers to a system undergo a preliminary course of the local Aesopica Fantastica.


Wind&Traveller Sun&Traveller
Images from Milo Winter

Subversive opinions view the technique as institutional brainwashing and indoctrination. Time and again these dissidents have pointed out the technology is ripe for abuse.

Mice Belling Cat2
Image from Milo Winter

 
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Development Notes
Text by Mark Ryherd

Initially published on 04 August 2010.

 
 
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