One fine weekend, Joan and I returned from one of our many trips.
As we approached the outskirts of Moab, the speed limit dropped to 65, then 55, and finally 45. As a local, I know of the speed traps to give (mainly) tourists a more expensive vacation. As such, I went my customary 5-8 MPH over the speed limit keeping in mind the trope of “Nine, you’re fine; ten gets you the pen!” Not an official rule by any means, but a rule of thumb in many areas.
However, this entire time, a person on their Epic Adventure of Self, no doubt, did not seem to approve of my mild speeding. She gave some “colorful gestures” in the mirror, let me know of her displeasure, and blew by rather fast in a 35 MPH zone once she could pass. I saw her pass by in her late model SUV garnished with lots of stickers that showed what a progressive, swell, adventurous, and active outdoors person she is, of course.
At a similar place in town a couple of years back, an even more aggressive driver threw an entire soda container from a gas station at a stop light under similar circumstances. I merely sped 5-8 MPH as I did not wish to chance a speeding ticket with known speed traps. Joan checked my Northeast driving roots, and that’s probably wise.
A local teacher ended up chewing out the person at the light instead.
Talking to fellow residents of Moab, I heard similar stories be it aggro people while driving, impatient people who can’t get their 5.0 ABV draft quick enough from people who work in the service industry, visitors disappointed that the outdoor stores do not have enough selection of Patagonia puffies, or upset that Delicate Arch does not have a velvet rope to keep out the riff-raff who did not hire a private guide.
After processing these stories, I had a revelation.
The revelation? Those of us in Moab, and similar towns, are seen as Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in Adventure Land.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of NPCs, they are the characters that inhabit shops, serve food, give clues, or grant items on a character’s quest in a role-playing game.
An accurate definition gives the crux of the matter (emphasis mine) –
NPC is an acronym that stands for “non-player character.” A non-player character is a character in a game that’s not controlled by the person playing the game, nor by any sort of AI. They’re not usually meant to act like real people.
To many of the three-million visitors to our town of 5,000 people, the 5k people who live here aren’t real people in many ways. We fill a role that helps them with their Very Important quest objectives.
Instead of gold pieces, they have fun tokens to buy wares. And while we don’t have taverns or reagent shops, we have many (many!) Air BnBs, hotels, restaurants, and t-shirt shops.
Suppose we don’t entirely act in line with the expected programming code (showing up at our local grocery store to buy food, for example, or not speeding fast enough. Or even perhaps wanting to close something at the posted hours and prevent people from getting a tchotchke ASAP rather than the following day). In that case, we are a frustrating bug in the code that prevents them from fulfilling quest objectives, gaining experience points, and completing their Epic JourneyTM.
What quests do they have, and how to go about doing them?
Well, there’s the obvious one of hiking The Arch. If an adventurer finds they do not have the appropriate equipment to hike The Arch, they can spend fun tokens to purchase shoes, a pack, and Extreme Environmentally Friendly Energy Bars! (you know the bars meet green-friendly standards because of green and brown lettering with a leaf on the package) to get to The Arch, gain +25 experience points (XP), and then go on to the next quest in Adventure Land.
The adventurer must also negotiate the parking and entrance challenge (+5 XP), try not to get injured and meet the SAR NPCs, or park illegally and get a ticket from the NPS LE Ranger NPCs (Though the executive class of adventurer will routinely ignore parking tickets due to the wealth ability of their character class.) Upon completing their quest, the adventurers can replenish their energy by spending more fun tokens at Air BnBs or restaurants rather than the adventurer guild. Avoid injuries and hospitals, as healing in America, is even more expensive than the temples in role-playing games.
Other potential quests include seeing all the parks from the Mighty Five Quest expansion pack, gathering lots of gifts for the grandchildren (popular quest for Tour Bus character class), or sneaking illegal drone photography in the Fiery Furnace (popular activity with the Influencer Class and their Spell of TikTok Casting).
The original commercial for the Mighty Five Expansion Pack of the Adventure Land game.
As you can probably tell, you’ll see some popular adventurer classes in the Moab expansion pack of Adventure Land. Not the warrior, thief, or wizard classes of fantasy novels. But instead, some different character classes are more common in these parts.
Among them, but not limited to, are some of the following –
- The Executive Class feels the most comfortable negotiating the quests of Moab Aventure Land. Their wealth ability gives them many fun tokens that allow them to overcome or even circumvent many rules and regulations. They already deal with many perceived NPCs in the CEO Quest -Corporate Land game in the form of maintenance, HR, IT, and similar people.
- The Van Lifer can weave charm spells, perhaps related to the many stickers on their vehicles, that make people think they live a nomadic lifestyle even if they work in the finance department of a Denver-based firm and have the van parked in their driveway most of the year.
- The Outdoor Person (with a mountain biker, backpacker, climber, and similar sub-classes) will often be at the fringes of the central part of Moab Adventure Land but can often get spotted by their Tacomas or Subarus. They proudly wear the Armour of Mellly Grid Fleece or the Cloak of Patagonia Warmth. With the upgrade of code in Moab Adventure Land, this class finds they often do not have enough fun tokens versus earlier game versions. However, many in this class eventually aspire to switch to the Executive Class to get more fun tokens. Many people in this class age into the Curmudgeon Outdoors Person. Or rumor has it.
There are many other classes (Air Bnb Tourist, RVer, Jeeper) and so on, and even multiclass (Van Life Climber, for example), but more details will have to wait for the launch of the online version of this game.
It is rainy, cold, and blustery as I write these words in Moab Adventure Land.
But soon, spring will arrive. The migrating adventurers will return from Jackson, Mammoth, or Aspen Adventure Lands come spring. And we, the NPCs of Moab Adventure Land, will fulfill our role of taking fun tokens, selling trinkets, and try not to break the code too much for our visiting adventurers!