Rockpocalyse: Fighting the enemies within
A CHANCE invitation from her sister led Harriet Smith from South Rockhampton to an abandoned space in the CBD and an alternate reality altogether.
You can join her this weekend at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre (see fact box).
"My sister got a text but she couldn't make it, so she passed it on to me," Harriet said. "I'm not a serious gamer; I was just happy to be there and have some fun."
Harriet was the last of three players to arrive, three players who couldn't prove more different to each other.
"The first player, she was obviously a real pro, loyal to the rules, a bit pedantic if I'm honest," Harriet said.
"Her character works at the uni, I think she's some kind of professor; she's always going on about funding."
The second player rocked up with a rake and an air of obliviousness.
"He didn't have a clue but, hey, I was a real newb too once," Harriet said.
"I was happy to bring him up to speed on tanks and healers and masters and stuff like that."
The master in question was a disembodied voice who explained the rules of the game.
And the tank was Harriet herself aka army officer Jay Wheeler.
"I'm protective to a flaw," she said. "Like, the only thing worse for me than standing in harm's way is to send somebody in there unawares.
"I honestly think I'm the kind of person who would front a riot or run into a fire if that meant the person behind me wouldn't bear the brunt of it. The problem is, it's hard to tell who the enemy is."
The three young players had enough in common to bond them together.
"Everybody knows things are pretty well broken around Rockhampton but nobody wants to take responsibility," Harriet said.
"Between unemployment and leadership spills, the stress of FIFO work on families, and servitude to big coal and mining companies, it's a terribly uncertain future for young people in this region.
"But so many people are demanding answers without first asking how they themselves can contribute."
However, like the powers they tried to defend themselves from, the three players lapsed into bickering and blame. "I mean, these two Northsiders were whingeing about having to cross the bridge," Harriet said.
"We needed to pull together to fix what was wrong with Rockhampton but we just started picking on each other."
Harriet had barely realised how out of control the gamers' relationships had grown when another threat presented itself.
"There were tremors, a kind of crack kept getting louder in the background," she said.
"We'd become so focused on our selfish issues, this mad dash and scramble to put our solutions to the Rockhampton problem first, it could be this other thing that would do us in".
Harriet's fate - and the future of Rockhampton, it seems - will be decided this weekend when she and the players congregate at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre. Spectators are welcome as the lines between reality and fiction continue to blur. "We have to discover the issue which has broken Rockhampton and fix it, within a fairly strict timeline," Harriet said.
And what does she think the general public will make of her self-confessed "tankish" tendencies to act first and think later?
"It's water off a duck's back what people think of me," she said. "To be honest, I don't give a ..."
Rockpocalypse presented by Arts Central Queensland Inc.
• Walter Reid Cultural Centre, Rockhampton City
• Friday 22 November 7pm
• Saturday 23 November 7pm
• Sunday 24 November 1pm
• Tickets: $15-25
• Bookings: https://artscqinc.org.au/rockpocalypse/
Rockpocalypse is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Rockhampton Regional Council and by Rockhampton Girls Grammar School.