Children who create imaginary parallel worlds known as paracosms, alone or with friends, are more found more commonly than previously believed, according to a new study.
Professor Tolkien once wrote of his work that what he was doing was sub-creation. To him only God could create anything unique, we could but produce parodies of what He has done. Still, that fact doesn’t seem to have put much of a damper on what we do.
The article linked to above leads to a report in Science Daily reporting on how young children are when they produce their alternate worlds, and on how many of them do out of the total population. I suspect that the actual percentage is much higher, it’s just that we as adults are none too practiced at listening to children.
Still it starts young, at the age of eight or nine, and among a substantial part of the populace. This tells me there is a lot more than we would think to the possible audience for Adventure Guides (AGs).
It also tells me there is a lot we need to learn about paracosms, those who create them, and the audience for them.
But before we start of that here is a short glossary of terms so you can follow along.
Paracosm: A created world or alternate reality
Paracosmology: The study of created worlds.
Paracosmologist: One who studies created worlds. Alternatively one who creates alternate realities.
Now you could say that paracosms are found in most any work of fiction. For the world of the story is most usually based on the world the author lives in or grew up in. Miller’s Chesapeake is a paracosm based on the actual tidal basin, much as is Stafford’s Glorantha, though the two were crafted for very different purposes. In the field of adventure guides such as Tekumel, Halmebra, and Greyhawk are examples of paracosms, based on the authors’ childhood experience and what he learned later in life. Arneson’s Blackmoor is a paracosm of the worlds of the stories he read in high school and college, most especially the pulp fiction of his day.
Still, we don’t yet have a comprehensive model of what a paracosm is, or how one is put together. Learning that is going to take some work, and I just don’t have the resources. So I will leave the task to those more capable than I.