Wednesday, October 23, 2013

296: Sweeps Squad

ENTRY 296: Sweeps Squad

Catharsis is the heart of attracting and keeping a prime audience, and in their quest for higher market shares media producers big and small will plumb the depths of love, heartache, pornography, violence, transgression, blasphemy, awe, devotion, and spectacle, leaving the transhumans that plug into their feed satiated, fucked out, brain numb, emotionally and physically exhausted from the experience, with creds and upvotes trickling into the accounts and profiles of the producers that worked hard to bring them the visceral entertainment they so crave. Yet in the vastness of the transhuman media sphere, with more content produced each second than any single audience member could experience in a lifetime, viewers aren't just spoilt for choice, their feeds are overflowing with content with no way to sort the million-volt-main line entertainment from the grainy, raw space hamster meshcam put out by a six year old with a My First Meshfeed sitekit.

Of course, the Mesh is rarely the perfect anarchist environment it appears, and different groups gather to consolidate shares of the market. In the Jovian Republic access controls subtly channel and limit content, trying to filter out illicit access to state-disapproved media through ever-evolving tag filters, self-contained genetic algorithms that sample metadata and pre-emptively ban incoming content based on what they think the next big fetish or philosophy will be; in the Main Belt anarachists data pirates have made it their mission to liberate the sum totality of adult entertainment on their peer-to-peer networks, undermining any effort by any second party to corner the market in pornography by making it available to all with a pay-what-you-want scheme that ensures creds and favors trickle down to the performers and crews; and in the Planetary Consortium media hypercorps dominate with vividly interlinked, self-referential fictional universes. Facing such dedicated competition, new players in the media need extreme measures to break into the business.

They're called Sweeps Squads. Often violent, always mediagenic, the Sweep Squads are pirate programmers, violating personal and media space to bring the gift of new media to the masses, often against their will. Flash operas erupt in Olympus, surprise audience members get co-opted into team bloodsports in the corridors of Extropia, prospective porn stars converge anonymously on New Varanasi for the Olympic Bang, and on a scumbarge out Mercury-way ten thousand subscribers have their feed hacked to experience an XP documentary about transhuman body dismorphic disorders. Freelancers are always welcome, and Sweep Squads are always hiring: in a market where viral advertising gets lost in the background noise, sometimes the only way to get noticed is to get in people's face.

Using Sweeps Squad

Smile for the camera and check that your sensory feeds are clean, it's time to get mediagenic. Sweeps Squad is an easy way to embrace all the excesses of media from every era, and the player characters can be hired to be as insane, dedicated, or ultraviolet as you're comfortable with bringing to your game. Sweeps Squads typically go over the edge of legality, and PCs will have to deal with an often confused and/or irate "audience," authorities, and competition as they try to get the people involved with their program. Given Sweeps Squad stunts might be as impromptu or elaborately choreographed as players and gamemasters care to make them. In any event, PCs at least have a clear idea of success: if the media ratings for their particular production go up, they've succeeded.


  • The PCs are on another job when they find another team shadowing their every move, recording everything, breaking into their quarters while they're out, interviewing contacts, witnesses, po-po, relatives, sex partners...they've been targeted by a Sweeps Squad that's making a reality/documentary on the PCs, and the brains behind the show try to roll with the PC's style, working in social commentary, psychological analysis, violence if the PCs get confrontational. A smart player might try to crash the ratings by being boring, but that just means the producers will try to spice things up by adding complication's to the PC's lives. The good news is, there's a built-in time limit because no new media fad lasts forever...but can the PCs survive that long?

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