Other factions on the station, such as the port authority, the former Havenage union, and the loosely regulated and over-trusting Hypha commune, are organizations just as fragmented as any corporation and just as capable of institutional neglect. While Damian Martin does his politics, they are not interested in covert agitprop.
“I never wanted to do a story that centered around taking down a comically evil conglomerate. I wanted to tell a story on the fringes of capitalism, where many of us learned how to exist.”
Our Uncertain World
In many of his interviews, Fr Citizen SleeperIn his depth, Damian Martin focuses on the concept of insecurity, which inspired them while reading Anna Tsing Mushroom at the end of the worldone of the many brilliant works of contemporary science fiction alluded to in the game.
“So many structures around us put pressure on our lives,” notes Damian Martin, “it’s up to us to be healthy, successful, and content. We all struggle to achieve these things in competition with one another, fighting for jobs, opportunities, possessions, even social status.
“We justify this with the myth of meritocracy, which dictates that the only thing that separates someone from the comfort of success or the despair of failure is being arbitrarily judged to be good at something arbitrarily valuable. It is an incredibly precarious method of asserting our right to exist with dignity.
When you consider the implications of the stock market, international politics, or the restrictions that come with an immigrant or other limited identity, you find even more uncertainty. Our world is full of systems that we cannot possibly control. We are surrounded by tiny, fragile walls,” explains Damian Martin, “when these walls fray and break, we fall towards mental breakdown, bankruptcy, destitution or even death.”
We constantly feel these walls inside Citizen Sleeper. The game’s economic fears about being able to afford food are fused with medical anxiety about where to secure the serum that sustains our failing bodies or how to afford solutions that might extricate us from our perilous circumstances. When you’re caught among so many predatory systems during key turning points, rolling a low set of action dice can create cascading setbacks.
“The greatest defense against these unsympathetic systems, as I’ve found, is human-based reciprocity,” concludes Damian Martin. “While we can’t decide the value of what we earn or the rights we deserve, we can always try to show up for each other when we’re needed. When people around us roll their snake eyes. The intimacy of mutual support is essentially how everyone survives in this world. From the very beginning, this will always be a part Citizen Sleeper, as it has been in my life in many ways. I don’t think there are enough stories about people trapped in these unsafe spaces.”
Citizen Sleeper will continue with three free DLC episodes, the first of which, titled “Flux,” tells the story of a refugee flotilla that has been sealed off from Erlin’s Eye by quarantine measures.
“All I will say now is that ‘Flux’ focuses on issues around refugees, bureaucracy and creating space for compassion within democratic systems,” explains Damian Martin. “I hope players will find it interesting and follow the episodic story as it unfolds. taking place this year and next.”