The Source of the Nile and the Cradle of Civilization

I’m a huge fan of Top Gear. I’ve watched every episode. Numerous times. It plays in the background while I work almost constantly. The long trips are especially entertaining for me. Vietnam. Myanmar. Botswana. Bolivia. The North Pole. All amazing.

I just watched (again) the Africa episode about searching for the source of the Nile. It is really good. You can probably find it on youtube or hulu.

48245887_bbcbus[Spoiler] At the very end, there’s this quasi-magical moment where James May puts his finger into a spring that they claim is the source of the Nile. For an anthropologist, this is awe-inspiring. For one, they claim the source of the Nile is in Tanzania, not far from Kenya, which we know is the true cradle of humanity… where hominids first started.

So? What’s the point, mr. game designer?

Take a moment to imagine what you’re role is as a game master. You’re officially ‘a god’ of sorts. You know the truth behind the metaphysics, sorcery, languages, histories, and peoples of your game worlds. (Assuming you’re not running someone else’s game world) You were there when the game world took life. You know who the first people were to step onto your world. You were there for it.

Imagine what that was like.

That first hominid stepping down from the trees to sip from the aquifer that would feed the largest, most important river int he world.

Now imagine it as a game master. Writing the stories of the first beings to step foot onto the world, drinking in the experiences that would shape the myths and realities of that world.

Don’t just write that Thor smashed the ice giants with a hammer forged by a fat-fitted dwarf. Imagine it. Retell. Examine it through a new lens. What was Thor really fighting against? And for? Why did he pick up that ROCK and smash open the head of some ugly person? Were they fighting over a woman? Food? Land? A spot of water?

How did that myth grow to be a hammer? And an ice giant? How did the history of your world change to accommodate that myth? And why was it constantly rewritten?

Imagine you are that god who steps into the well-springs and brings life to these worlds through organic means. Not just dwarves hate smelly orcs, but through the histories of two people rooted in a past YOU created.

Then imagine that every myth we live with today was born the same way. Do that and maybe you’ll understand just a little why I find that moment so magical. A man walks until a trickling stream in Tanzania, puts his finger into a spring, and touches a past he cannot possibly understand.
That’s myth.

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