Welcome to Part 14 of my World Building blog series 😀 I’ll be covering just about every topic I can think of that goes into world crafting. If you have any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know 🙂
What do people in your world do to keep from going squirrely with boredom? Entertainment covers a lot of facets; sports, games, music, art, theatre etc. You don’t have to include all of them in your story, but you should definitely have at least one mentioned. Entertainment is an important part of cultures and it can offer some clear insights into what the cultures deem valuable. Ordinarily you’re probably going to only choose one or two to focus on based on your character’s interests or conflicts. That’s not to say you can’t focus on more, it really just depends on how much world developing you want to do.
A good example of using entertainment to show societal values would be having a culture celebrate gladiatorial style games. If people are fighting to the death to entertain a crowd, then that gives you a good idea as to how human life is valued. Whether your character is part of the games, observing them or running them, you gain an understanding of the culture.
Is there formal training for people involved in entertainment? Is there any mandatory training everyone receives? What are the steps involved if someone wants to learn a sport or art? Are there illegal aspects to forms of entertainment, such as gambling? How is access to forms of entertainment restricted based on class, income, gender, etc? Which forms of entertainment have the most success for producing a viable living for people in your society?
Depending on the technology level of your world, you can also include things like radio and film. There is also magic to consider. Consider if/how magic is integrated into your world, you could have magic itself as entertainment, or as a means to capture moments of entertainment. There are numerous possibilities with this, like making copies of artistic works, capturing voices for later listening, magical enhancement for sports, etc.
How are physical sports viewed in your society? What sports are common? Are any sports illegal? If yes, how is it monitored and enforced? Is there a division between secular and sacred within sport? Are any sports restricted to specific holidays? What is the stance of your culture on blood sports?
What games do people play? If you’re using or creating a specific one, do you understand the basic rules? You don’t have to if you’re just mentioning it casually, but at least be aware what equipment is required for it, ie. cards, dice, boards, etc.
How popular is music in your world? Who has access to music? What instruments exist and how accessible are they to learn and own? What styles of music exist?
What types of visual art are most common? Some examples are painting, sculpture, architectural design, etc. Even fashion applies to this if your society supports that. If someone wants to be an artist, how do they access the supplies and the training? Do any aspects of the culture dislike visual art? Some groups in history banned anything colorful, while others celebrated beauty in all it’s forms.
How common are performing arts? Is there an infrastructure to support it? What varieties are celebrated in your world? Are any condemned? An example of this would be ballet vs. burlesque or pole dancing in conservative societies.
Arts and entertainment are everywhere in the world. If your characters are directly involved in any of them compared to being a consumer, you’re going to have an entirely different perspective on them. What is the day to day life like for a person who’s part of that entertainment? Is it organized into guilds or other formal bodies? Are they respected for their involvement? Are they exploited because of their involvement? How regimented are things like practices, diet, clothing and performances? What is their income like compared to the average person? Are they reliant on patrons or another source of income to pursue their craft?
Hopefully that’s a good starting point.