Back in the Corporatist Paranoia article, I talked about how to take the basic ideas of Paranoia XP’s shift of the game from a communist dystopia to a corporatist one and really make them work. One of the unfortunate necessities of that premise is that service groups must be done away with. The neo-feudal structure of the corporatist dystopia demands that, much like the Computer itself, service groups must be sliced up so that each ULTRAVIOLET has their own functioning copy of each, capable of acting independently from all the others. Corporatism is capitalism gone horribly wrong, and capitalism is about wanting stuff badly enough to do things you otherwise wouldn’t in exchange, and that means that ULTRAVIOLETs don’t have to wrangle for influence over a single government-run PLC, they can buy their own distribution network, and most of them do. That isn’t just in-theme, it’s the defining difference between communist and corporatist dystopias.
But service groups are fun, and there is a way to salvage at least a good chunk of them. Rather than specific organizations, service groups are a set of aptitudes that Friend Computer evaluates for on the tests used for the competent half of the “loyal and competent” security clearance evaluation. The Algorithm thinks that Housing Preservation and Development is fundamentally linked to Mind Control, such that someone with aptitude in one is highly likely to have aptitude in another, and no one understands enough of the code to figure out if this is a bizarre bug or if millions of simulations a second have allowed the Algorithm to cleave reality at its joints and discover surprising truths about the hidden connections between building apartment blocks and filming TV shows.
And since the Algorithm thinks these are closely related, HPD&MC departments at your sector university will give you a rigorous education in both – for an outrageous fee that will leave you in debt for the rest of your six lives – that will fast track you to GREEN or BLUE levels of competency. Like websites cracking SEO in an arms race with the Google algorithm, educational institutions are in an arms race with the Algorithm’s evaluation of these eight areas of competency. R&D is not an organization, but a loose academic grouping, like “life science” and “philosophy.” And yet, the guys from the Humanities departments at ABC University have more in common with the Humanities guys over at XYZ University than they do with ABC University’s own STEM departments. The rivalry between chemistry and physics not only lives alongside, but actually overshadows the rivalry between Harvard and Yale or whatever.
A ZAP sector graduate with training in Power Services isn’t getting anything so prestigious as a university degree, but they’re still inheriting a tradition and a culture that’s shared across almost all Power Services graduates, no matter what university they went to, and since the Algorithm has decided that Power Services and Technical Services are different things with different scores even though they’re both involved directly in maintaining the power grid, the two departments both exist separately from one another and have the same physics vs. chemistry sort of rivalry that crops up between two very slightly distinct sub-cultures.