Guest post from our Episodic writer Qais Fulton, an experienced Writer and Narrative Designer with a diverse portfolio of cross-platform content spanning over five years in the game industry.
From the turn of the 20th century, Seattle has, at its heart, been a boom town. Alaskan gold was the source of our city’s initial growth spurts, and since then avionics, music, and technology have been a part of Seattle’s history of cyclical growth. While each boom and bust has left its mark on the city, Seattle has always managed to retain its character, the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make it what it is, bobbing along on the swell and break to wait for the next wave.
The combination of quirks, boom town resilience, and constant overcast skies make for a perfect cyberpunk setting. Odd sights on every corner, neon art flashing out from the windows of abandoned storefronts, grey skies and hissing rain that lasts for months on end. It’s a city that’s been undeniably ours for the length of its history, but lately that’s begun to change.
The transformation that’s come to Seattle on this latest wave of growth has long-time residents rattled. Our city is riding the swell, as it always has, but the marks left behind in this case may not be so easy to shake, and seem set to leave the city unrecognizable to those who’ve always loved it.
As big business sweeps across downtown, throwing up skyscrapers and corporate campuses as fast as construction contracts are signed, Seattle is rapidly becoming a shadow of its former self. The hilltop neighborhoods that served as a refuge for artists and queer communities are becoming home to quick-build condos, areas in which six-figure salaries and mixed-use residential/retail towers are the de-facto standard, while everything that gave the city its draw is paved over.
As we create the Seattle of V.Next, we’re looking at the change that’s come to our city and forecasting its future, and while the rain doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, the heart of our city is changing. It’s not hard to imagine a Seattle in which wealth and irreverence turns vibrant culture into a metropolitan amusement park, with its attendant weirdos pushed out to the fringes and niche neighborhoods by corporate influence and class stratification.
The future we’ve envisioned for Seattle is unquestionably a dystopia, but it’s not without hope, and it hasn’t forgotten its roots as a haven for misfits, artists and eccentric geniuses. To me, Vivienne Denue represents that hope, the desire to fight for a unique identity. Just like Vivienne, we’re fighting corporate titans more focused on the bottom-line than leaving the soul of the city intact. We’re fighting to keep the memory and identity of Seattle alive.