I've been enjoying playing My Tribe. Surprisingly so: a few days ago I even started playing My Tribe instead of Warcraft because it just seemed easier and more fun.
At first I thought it was not a very good game. It's better than earlier Facebook social games like Farmville, the game mechanics are a bit more complex. But end of the day it's still pretty simple and the lack of any conflict or challenge makes everything seem meaningless.
And then one of my people died.
Poor Stephanie. She really was a legendary builder. She single-handedly built my people's homes, their collecting shacks, their science lab. She had some help from other tribespeople upgrading the buildings, it would have taken too many hours alone. But she was blessed with natural strength from birth, she studied building all through her life, and her little secret help was her magic skirt of +6 Construction. She dedicated her life to creating sturdy buildings for her tribe. She is missed.
It was a shock to log in and be notified that someone had died. The core mechanic of My Tribe are your people, a group of 10-20 little minions you send to their tasks: chopping wood, weeding the farm, constructing buildings. And the people all level up, every few hours they get new skill points for you to allocate. In my head those people were just going to level up forever, or maybe max out and work tirelessly forever more. I never noticed that they were actually aging, and that naturally at some point they would die. A particularly poignant moment was when I collected enough stork feathers to have another baby in the tribe. I selected Stephanie to be the mother at about age 55 because of her strong body (the game includes eugenics!). But she told me "Stephanie thinks the younger women of the tribe should be having the children now". That was the beginning of the end.
Now I'm looking at my tribe and realizing three other founding members are at death's door. My fisherwoman, my wood chopper, my rock buster. Suddenly my choice to make all the youngsters specialize in science seems foolish: who's going to catch fish when Madeline passes on? I'm counting my stork feathers to continue my breeding programs. My young scientists will become my Eloi, now I need to breed some strong Morlocks to do the heavy lifting. Hopefully Brandon the wood chopper can still "call the stork" at age 58.