Miles Below Midnight
A downloadable game
GOLDEN COBRA 2022 SUBMISSION
In the near future, giant excavators will mine rare metals from the ocean floor, piping them up to ships or floating platforms on the surface. The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a 4500-mile expanse between Hawai’i and Mexico, contains billions of metallic nodules that cover the surface of the abyssal plain, more than 4km below sea level. Rights to mine this region are already being assigned by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), with mining companies ironically making the argument that these metals will be crucial to renewable energy development.
In Miles Below Midnight, we imagine the seabed mining industry ~50 years in the future, when many aspects of mineral extraction and processing have been automated. Miles below the Midnight Zone, in the abyssal depths, robot excavators react to commands from distant continents—ravaging the seabed with a few clicks.
To play this online larp duet, 2 players will portray employees of the fictional Canadian company Abyssal Minerals (AbMin), which started out independent but is now a subsidiary of ExxonMobile.
One player will portray the Coxswain or helmsman, responsible for the steering and wellbeing of the unmanned surface vessel (USV aka “drone ship” or “ghost ship”) that lowers the excavator to the seabed and then carries mined minerals back to port.
The other player will portray the Operator or driver of the deep-sea excavator, an enormous 20-ton underwater tractor that will be lowered more than 4km down to gather metallic nodules.
Both of these duties are performed remotely, from offices or even work-from-home setups that are part of AbMin’s secure network. Neither the Coxswain or Operator are asked to leave the relative security of shore. Instead, they merely login to AbMinNet, start a joint video conference to coordinate their activities, and go to work mining nodules in the CCZ.
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