my wife and I are new fans of Downton Abbey, as a gamer I can't help be inspired by it story for a game or a story to write. Note that this is fiction and mostly used as a playground for examining worse-case scenarios.
One of the reasons I favor ISW is that it is Terra centric, and I can weave a story about how things changed on earth. I love speculating on the possible future by the trends in politics and science. I am aware there IS a deadline that certain changes have to happen or its impotence will never let it take effect.
It inspires a Traveller game that looks at 2170 as The Turn of a New Age.
It appears at this time that the only reason to go to space is when you don't have anything better here on earth. To be one of the elites, the dynasts, is to be immune to the same needs and insecurities of everyone else.
One of the futures we are trending towards is the separation of society through their political ideals and never needing to venture outside this because of technology and entrenched power. Technology can connect, but it can make a small niche class connect and coordinate in a way that they can overpower the masses. It can concentrate wealth, power and influence, because the tools they create cost resources and what was a mere gift of chance is slowly eroded by the power science has given to human kind.
The Welfare Class is a class of people who are affected by the abundance technology brings, but have not completely shaken free from poverty and ignorance. They are the "new serfdom or slavery", and are in a world where their opinion and thoughts are shaped by the New Aristocracy.
They are the new Intellectual Equilibrium, created by the anti-science and anti-critical thinking provisions designed by the lawmakers who serve the new Corporate Aristocracy.
A shrinking Middle Class, they have a choice between seeing their freedomes slowly taken away by the aristocracy and see many of their kind fall into the stuppor of the welfare class or leave earth and all its beauty for the claustrophobia of ships and colonies to make a new world and self governance for them.
Common Good Levels
Economies are Infectious in their activities, most of the time an economy that profits from abuses reshape costs and what is considered "Fair" compensation. No one can compete with an entity whose costs are next to nothing from an advantage unrestrained Power and Influence created. Sadly this is a common good problem, and common good problems are infectious because it is built on the best qualities of a very rare kind of people and it is in-itself a Prisoners Dillemma. When one sees a betrayal, all will betray.
For an economy to "Correct" for the negative effects of Prisoners Dillemma requires a memory of the betrayal - the welfare class has no memory, it has what ever it is fed by its overlords. So the viscous cycle continues.
The Masses are unthinking and dangerous.
Information barriers are much more oppressive in an age that information can travel at the speed of light but human emotion and thought needs to process everything. Everyone is human, except the few who have altered themselves to adapt to escalating information asymmetry. It is easier to promote misinformation and to "cultivate" misinformation in an age where power is concentrated to a few in unprecedented levels.
Escape is the only choice for those who are unshackled by the intellectual oppression or lure of going with the flow. Those fueled to leave have become more alien than those who have been cultivated to stay and dream.
Loss Aversion and the Dynasts
being a dynast means having more to lose than most. One can fight this by accepting an Ascetic view of world, but those who do leave the world to those who are Not Ascetic. Those who are consumed by the need to accumulate and protect their own interests.
To be an "Empire" builder again, its been 260 years since the last empires, but many would contest that the medium merely changed and it has come back to its its favored medium: conquest.
The war with the Vilani can be very interesting in this perspective - Greed is its primary cause because the middle class are pioneers too busy mastering the frontier, the welfare doesnt care, and only the dynasts are affected by the "potential" new markets.
Class Struggle, the Sacrifices, the human desires for a home and a stable future. The changes that will come and hardships. Smarter Good guys, good guys with a greater level of prudence discretion and strategy, in a more complex situation and era.