Human Entertainment Media
The Orion Spur is an exceedingly diverse place for humanity, filled with everything from dysfunctional “republics” to authoritarian monarchies to former colonies struggling to get onto their feet, and so much more in between! Yet despite how stunningly diverse humanity is, it is united in its love of one thing: entertainment! With human entertainment ranging from massive theaters showing the latest blockbuster on their holo-screens to humble gaming consoles and VR sets, humanity consumes and produces mass media at a scale unmatched by any other species in the Orion Spur. While attempting to list every form of popular media in the Orion Spur would take an obscenely long time, below we will touch on some of the most popular forms of media in the Orion Spur that humanity has created.
Entertainment Consumption in the 2460s
The ways in which humanity — and those living in human-dominated areas, such as the Republic of Biesel, view and consume entertainment media is quite diverse in of itself. While radio remains common, most households in civilized space will receive their entertainment through their television and many more expensive variants, such as a holographic projector that produces a three-dimensional viewing experience with some advertised as being realistic enough that the audience is transported into the scenery of the production itself. Movie theaters that use these three-dimensional holographic projectors on a larger scale are referred to as holo-plexes and are rarely found outside of well-developed human worlds due to the massive investment needed to create them and prohibitively high maintenance costs.
Phones remain common in the 2460s and can be found throughout human space and beyond, and most humans on highly-developed worlds such as Luna or Biesel will use a phone nearly every for both entertainment and work purposes. Corporate employees will go out of their way to purchase a phone from the Eridani Corporate Federation due to their widespread reputation for excellent utility in a corporate setting; features such as holographic projectors can be locked to the retinal implant of an employee, allowing only them and their supervisors to see displayed holographic images. NanoTrasen has, for some time, attempted to get ahead of the curve on employees purchasing their own devices by offering (mandatory) PDAs to all employees. They have found some success in this, despite issues with PDA security and the ease with which the devices can be cracked to run non-official programs.
Video games are widely consumed throughout the Orion Spur's human powers and span an incredibly diverse range of genres and topics, ranging from nationalistic shooters to dramas capable of challenging, perhaps even surpassing, the stories of the greatest films the Spur has to offer. Video games are primarily played through either a console or computer, though arcades and public virtual reality arenas are commonplace throughout human space. Commercially viable public virtual reality arenas are a somewhat recent arrival to the entertainment market and only started to become widespread following the runaway success of Holo-Dive, a virtual reality social media platform created through a collaboration between Idris Incorporated and Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals.
Streaming — particularly the streaming of video games — it remains a common form of entertainment in the 2460s. Successful streamers are celebrities unto themselves. The Republic of Biesel has become something of a hub for the media form due to its diversity and the legal loopholes in the Republic's law allowing streamers to function mostly independently as long as they are employed by a megacoporation. Many streamers will operate through Chirper or HoloDive as both platforms have systems in place to support streamers on their platform—for a price, of course. Successful streamers can easily make it their job, but most will simply stream as a side job while collecting corporate sponsorships as they go. In addition to more traditional streaming advances made by Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals, Jeonshi Biotech Incorporated have allowed for the creation of streaming devices small enough to fit into augmented eyes, which have allowed for frame-by-frame streaming of sports directly from the eyes of an athlete. The future of sportscasting, today!
Republic of Biesel
The media of the Republic of Biesel is (often rightfully) criticized for being low-quality by critics from across the Orion Spur. NanoTrasen's utter dominance over the system results in little to no non-NanoTrasen owned business including film studios and independent media-producers, leading to an enormous brain drain to more established capitals of the entertainment industry such as Venus and, less commonly, Persepolis. What media that is produced in the Republic is typically heavily biased towards NanoTrasen and rarely displays competing perspectives. However, this may change in the immediate future due to Einstein Engines allowing for the establishment of Phoenix Productions, an independent film-making studio in Phoenixport. Some of the most notable entertainment products from the young Republic include, but are not limited to:
The NT-Game! (emphasis included, and highly recommended if you are the person responsible for selling it at your local NTmart) is NanoTrasen's flagship gaming system, and is loosely based upon the electronics used in the standard NT-PDA every employee is issued before starting work at a NanoTrasen-owned facility. The NT-Game! is a remarkably cheap device beloved by adults and children alike throughout the Republic of Biesel and has a battery capable of running for two days without charging in ideal conditions. With a variety of games including Foreign Legionnaire: Heroes of Tau Ceti, the NT-Game! is certain to remain relevant for years to come. NT-Game! software is mostly compatible with the software of a standard NT-PDA, which has led to some employees modifying their PDAs to play NT-Swap! Games. NanoTrasen advises its employees not to do this, but has found little success in stopping the spread of “cracked” PDAs among its employees. Users of the NT-Game! are referred to by marketing as NT-Gamers! (also with emphasis) despite criticism at how “horribly corporate,” the name is.
The flagship game of the NT-Game! (emphasis is important, remember that) is -- as mentioned above -- Foreign Legionnaire: Heroes of Tau Ceti. Foreign Legionnaire is a first-person shooter set during the declaration of independence of Tau Ceti that postulates a “what if?” scenario where the Sol Alliance invaded the Republic of Biesel rather than letting it go free. The player takes control of a volunteer of the Tau Ceti Foreign Legion, which has hastily formed in response to the Solarian invasion. While the campaign has been hailed by Republican media for its story of a brave, ultimately hopeless stand against the Alliance, the real draw of Foreign Legionnaire is undoubtedly the multiplayer: players fight massive battles in locations across Tau Ceti as either a member of the Alliance or the Republic using a variety of guns and vehicles. Order your copy today and receive the Tajara Legionnaire DLC for free!
The Alliance is home to the greatest share of humanity's entertainment industry due to its massive size and often ancient production companies, some of which can trace their founding back to even before humans were able to go beyond their own atmosphere! Despite an increasingly authoritarian climate and the loss of much territory by the Alliance in recent years, Cytherea has managed to retain its spot as the so-called “Emperor of Entertainment” and attempts to censor it by the Alliance's government have slid off of it like rain due to Venus' prominent position in the Alliance. Many of Biesel's prominent entertainers— actors to writers— eventually find their way to Cytherea due to Venus' lack of a megacorporate stranglehold. But while Cytherea may be the Emperor, it is hardly the only source of entertainment! Planets throughout the Alliance produce their own forms of media ranging from crime dramas on New Hai Phong to Holo-Dive vacations on Silversun sponsored by Idris Incorporated.
One of the most successful video games in the Alliance is Solarian Marines, a multiplayer-only first-person shooter with real-time strategy elements that throws players into a conflict between the 3rd Battalion of the 54th Solarian Marine Regiment and the heinous Tup Research Division of the Nralakk Federation that has gone rogue due to the presence of the insane Xivxum Xiuzux. With the Federation unable to stop the rogue doctor, the heroic marines must step in and save the day. Despite drawing controversy due to its negative depictions of the skrell, Solarian Marines is played throughout the Orion Spur due to continued support of its asymmetrical gameplay. The Marines must land upon the planet from their vessel, the Conrad, before pushing into and eliminating the Tup research facility deep underground. The Tups must steal DNA using small, invisible probe units that disable and temporarily knock marines out in order to unlock more powerful Skrell bioforms and push the marines back onto the Conrad (this depiction of the Nralakk Federation's Tups has drawn immense criticism from the Federation itself, but has not stopped the game from becoming a best-seller). With a wild variety of Skrell bioforms -- ranging from the Tup themselves to hulking war bioforms able to throw marines like ragdolls -- and marine roles -- from humble grunts to the Captain of the Conrad -- Solarian Marines has enough to keep players occupied for hundreds of hours as long as they can get past its extremely controversial depiction of Skrell. Plus, extensive character creation you can design your own marine that looks like you!
The most successful movie franchise in the Alliance, perhaps in the entire Spur, is without a doubt Monkey King. With its seventh main line installment having recently released in February 2463 to rave reviews and massive profits, the Cytherean-produced series has secured its continued dominance over the holovid (or “holo-movie” for the official term) industry despite criticism that the series primarily centered around the titular Monkey King's visually stunning fights rather than actual plots. The Monkey King himself is depicted as a wandering hero travelling throughout the Orion Spur and beyond in search of the next biggest fight to prove himself in. A reason for the ongoing profitability of Monkey King is the early adoption of holographic movie projection by the franchise in the mid-2430s, which helped bring the franchise to the next level of spectacle: viewers are transported into the fight itself, able to view it from almost any angle if viewed in an appropriately equipped holo-plex theater.
Empire of Dominia
The Imperial entertainment industry is a curious one thanks to the authoritarian and highly-centralized nature of the Empire of Dominia itself, with the royal family often known for interfering in the entertainment industry (for better or worse). Despite this, it maintains a respectable entertainment industry that, while being nowhere near the size of the Alliance or Republic of Biesel, has achieved a reputation for quality productions. A majority of the Empire's entertainment products can be found in the greater Orion Spur regardless of the Empire's debatable reputation in the Coalition of Colonies and Republic of Elyra, but the largest market for Dominian entertainment media remains the Empire itself as very little Dominian media is designed for a wider (and non-Dominian) audience.
Easily the most popular entertainment product in the Empire is the critically-acclaimed Our Holy Moroz, a ten-season drama set during the closing years of the War of Moroz leading up to the unification of the planet Moroz under the Empire of Dominia. The series is centered around two characters: Captain Cynthia Desrosiers of the Imperial Alliance and her nemesis, Lieutenant Jalo Heikkinen of the Confederated States. Even though it was produced in the Imperial capital of Nova Luxembourg, Our Holy Moroz is widely regarded as an extremely nuanced and fair dramatization of the War of Moroz, with an ensemble cast portraying characters and some historical figures from both the Confederated States of Fisanduh and Imperial Alliance. Curiously, future Emperor Godwin Keeser's face is never directly shown and is instead depicted with his back to the camera— producers explain this is to avoid creating an impostor of the late Emperor. With its tenth season slated to end the series in November of 2463, Imperial subjects and even some beyond Dominia's borders hold their breath in anticipation of the last showdown between Desrosiers and Heikkinen.
While Boleslaw Keeser the First may be the undisputed Emperor of Dominia, the undisputed master of the Dominian video gaming market— by extension, esports is included here— is the wildly popular Reign of Steel, produced by a programming studio affiliated with House Volvalaad. Reign is a highly competitive and finely tuned shooter set in a fictitious version of the Interstellar War in which players can fight for either the Frontier Coalition or Solarian Central Government. With hundreds of ways to equip your soldier and an engrossing gameplay loop, Reign has been a smash hit both inside and outside of the Empire thanks to a large sponsorship from House Volvalaad and seems set to become one of the most popular esports in the Orion Spur. Many theorize that the reason for this success—massive funding by the Volvalaads aside, of course— its semi-fictional setting, which allows it to be sold anywhere in the Spur without arousing nationalistic anger.
Eridanian entertainment shares much with the greater Solarian Alliance as a whole due to its position within the Jewel Worlds of the Alliance, yet a good variety of local entertainment media has managed to develop within the Corporate Federation, free of the influence of the greater Alliance. However, the uniquely corporate nature of the Federation and immense divisions between the haves and have-nots has shaped Eridanian media into its unique current form: there is an extremely clear divide between the entertainment media a model employee should subscribe to and the entertainment media only suited for dregs and those with ink under their leisure suits.
A model employee of Eridani's highly valued corporations will derive their primary source of entertainment from podcasts, either at home, at work, or on the go. These podcasts are widely promoted by the corporations of the Federation and listening to them while working is typically not forbidden by the majority of employers for very practical reasons: giving employees access to entertainment that they can use while still having their hands and eyes free to work cuts down on the need for employees to have breaks for entertainment and relaxation and can often contribute to productivity. Many corporations have in-house podcasts available only to loyal employees as an incentive for productivity and sharing these is often a quick way to be fired from one's position. Another common feature of Eridanian corporate entertainment are “minicasts,” podcasts designed to last as long as the time it takes transportation to go from an employee's residence to their office. These are typically produced by the employee's corporation for their own use in order to incentivize continued work with the company. Some of these minicasts are known for being so well-produced that they have followings outside of Eridani, though they hardly make up a large part of the Orion Spur's media marketplace. Dregs on the other hand produce very little entertainment media of their own with some— mostly Eridanian— critics claiming dregs are simply too brutish and uncivilized to ever create something beautiful. Some dreg-produced entertainment series, such as the Mendell City-based Underlife podcast that catalogues life in Eridani's underworld, go against this stereotype. Many, however, are unable to overcome their circumstances and with their lives defined by overwhelming levels of poverty and crime, the average dreg's entertainment is typically derived from illegal narcotics rather than media. Some theorize that Eridanian pharmaceutical companies are one of the main sources of drugs in Eridani's underworld and inflate supply in order to keep the large population of dregs content.
Republic of Elyra
Due to the heavily isolationist and top-down nature, the Republic of Elyra, has a somewhat small, quality entertainment industry that is primarily centered around the planet of Persepolis. Though it is overshadowed in Elyra by more traditional art forms on other Elyran planets such as Medina, Elyran entertainment typically finds more success in the greater Orion Spur. The entertainment industry that does exist in the Serene Republic is centered around films and animation and has a reputation for pursuing quality over quantity due to its small size. Elyran arthouse cinema is considered by some to be on the same level of quality as Venus, though it often struggles to match the scale and spectacle of the Solarian capital of entertainment. Elyran Sadiququus, or QQs, are not considered to strictly be part of the entertainment industry, instead being considered their own industry.
The most famous holovid to come out of the animation studios of Persepolis is the long-running Freedom Fliers series, produced by Marut Studios, which portrays the trials and tribulations of exosuit and mech pilots during the Interstellar War through the use of fictional characters. The series is beloved in the Republic of Elyra and Coalition of Colonies for its well-developed cast of characters and patriotic roots in fighting against the Sol Alliance, ostensibly being not well-received in the Sol Alliance. It has become prominent in Tau Ceti post-independence, and its advertisements can often be found throughout the Republic of Biesel.
A less famous yet still beloved holovid originating in the animation studios of Persepolis is the Blood on the Sands series, which presents a dramatization of the Medina phoron bulletin and the phoron hunters that work to fulfill it. Full of drama, intrigue, and suspense, Blood on the Sands has seen wild success in the Republic itself, and its broad cast of characters dedicated to hunting phoron have helped it become widely watched outside of the Republic. Its producers, Leviathan Studios, are well regarded throughout the animation industry for the lengths they have taken to ensure Blood on the Sands remains as faithful to its source material as possible all while being animated.
Coalition of Colonies
The entertainment industry of the Coalition is incredibly decentralized due to the nature of the Coalition itself with each planet producing its own unique forms of media ranging from anti-Solarian propaganda on Gadpathur (from posters to popular animated cartoons) to true crime series set in the seedy underbelly of Xanu Prime. However, much of the Coalition's well-known entertainment media can be traced back to its more developed colonies such as Himeo and Xanu Prime (along with its colonies, such as Crosk), with less-developed planets rarely producing entertainment that becomes known beyond the Coalition itself.
Despite its humble origins in the Republic of Assunzione, the open-world RPG Lightwalker has found itself popular throughout the Orion Spur due to its setting and mix of traditional roleplaying game and horror elements. Gameplay centers around the player creating and taking control of a Zeng-Hu-sponsored exploration team that is being sent into uncharted depths of Light's Edge to find and retrieve a device referred to as the “bianhua”. The myriad twist and turns along the way will find the player and their team pushed to the limit by forces inside and outside of their small vessel. When they ultimately reach the bianhua, they are presented with a choice: should this device even be retrieved, or was the bianhua abandoned in this far away sector for a reason? Despite receiving some criticism from Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals itself, Lightwalker has been massively successful throughout the Orion Spur. However, many on Assunzione avoid the game due to its “gamifying” of Light's Edge and what can be found within its uncharted sectors.
The long-running detective drama Xanu Underground is perhaps the most easily recognized piece of entertainment from the Coalition itself. With the series having run for nearly seventy continuous years, Xanu Underground and its uncompromising depiction of life in the massive cities of Xanu Prime have achieved fame throughout the Orion Spur as one of the greatest police procedurals ever made. Though initially set in the transition from Solarian to local rule at the start of the Interstellar War, Xanu Underground has jumped around the planet's history with a five-season-long series generally centered around two detectives. The most recent protagonists are vice detective Beatrice Fitzpatrick and her baseline colleague ICO (short for Intelligence Cataloguer and Organizer) and their attempts to bring down a drug smuggling cartel operating out of Zaurghis. With this series' second season having started in 2463, it is clear that much of their story remains.