What year does Net Gain take place in?
2043 was the year we decided for the setting. It's just close enough that we don't have flying cars everywhere or nanobots forming a T-1000, and just far enough away so we can add in all the science fiction we're working today to make science fact (mind-brain interfaces, better internet, faster processor speeds, etc). The game doesn't take place explicitly in 2043, as time will pass as you play, but the idea (for now) is that it's an "eternal 2043"...more about the feel of the times than the passing of the days.
Why call it Net Gain?
It's a bit of a pun. We had a great conversation, went through a lot of tag words, but Net Gain together is both a promise of inter-connectivity, and the promise of...well...gain. In business, a net gain is what you make after taking out what you spent (a net loss would be if you spent more than you made, for example.) Net Gain sends a clear picture that you'll be doing business, and hints at a little of the "cool" on top of it.
What is a broker?
In the world of Net Gain there's essentially four levels a person can be. Top level executives (CEOs, boards of directors), middle managers (Directors of Operations, Chief Operating Officers, Brokers...etc), Operatives (Gunners, Drivers, Hackers, Pilots, Security, Fixers, Faces), and bitizens (Sheep). As a broker, your job is to interface with the top level execs and the operatives. Danny Ocean (Ocean's 11), Nathan (from TV's Leverage), and Ted Crisp (from TV's amazing and ill-fated Better Off Ted) are all examples of broker types. They're consummate professionals, modern takes on the city-state princes of the old world. Masters at the fine tactics behind social engineering, the delicate art of espionage, and the grand strategy of war.
How does the rest of that social ladder affect my broker?
CEOs and the Board: "What they don't know won't hurt'em" is the name of the game when it comes to the higher-ups. They give a broker free-reign, and a very generous slush fund, to make sure the company stays in the black. This blank check lets the brokers do whatever is necessary to make money, while freeing up the CEOs to admit no knowledge of any wrong doing...should the authorities come knocking.
Other brokers: Other brokers can be either great sources of information, or your worst enemy. It's usually safe to assume the latter. Brokers make their living by arranging subversion, and will often try to take the competition out of the picture...both in their own company and their rivals. But it's not always so grim. Brokers can form alliances, play wargames against each other, chat and joke over drinks after work... it's just understood that you shouldn't expose yourself even to these friends because that's just good practice. if you slip up a broker is just as likely to let you know, though they'll expect the favour returned.
Operatives: Operatives are the extension of a broker's will. They are tools, a well-equipped Swiss army knife of skill sets that a broker can hire to complete their assigned missions. Operatives loyalty will affect the way they respond to orders, and could even turn them against you in crucial moments. On the other hand, an operative with full loyalty would gladly take a bullet for you, so it pays to protect your team. Big time. Each Operative is unique, with specific traits and abilities, so remember to fit them to their task to reap the best rewards.
Bitizens: The population of the earth. Specifically, the consumers. Bitizens power the corporation with their purchases, so the corporation needs them to survive. News stories that affect the globe will change the state of the market, and the buying power of the bitizens could change and fluctuate at almost any time. A drought might suddenly increase agricultural research purchases, a proxy war will go a long way to promote arms sales and R&D. All industries are affected by the state of the Earth, and its a broker's prime directive to make sure the people's money is going into the corporation's pocket no matter what. Drawing too much heat will lower the public reputation of a company, and drastically affect revenues. And we wouldn't want that...now would we?
What is a plug?
Plug technology is one of the biggest advancements in the Net Gain universe. By setting up a complete replacement of the brain's synapses it preserves function, while preventing degredation at the hands of Synaptic Degeneration Syndrome. SDS is a very real threat, a genetic mutation that slowly dissolves the connections between our brain cells. The plug runs on bio-electric power, allowing the brain to continue to interface with the body naturally without needing external assistance.
The side effect of this treatment is the ability to beam information directly to and from the brain. Visual information can be beamed directly to the visual cortex, and seem to float in front of a user's eyes. Fully immersive sensory programs called "slips" can take users into entirely different places, private or public net spaces and other world of games or films. Commlinks are special devices like cell phones attached directly to the plug interface that allow a person to connect wirelessly to the net, and from that to anyone else online, without lifting a finger. Prosthetic enhancements that use the plug interface allow for full control and feeling in artificial limbs, and even extra utilities.
The plug is widespread enough that about 8/10 people in a major city would have one. Most health insurance companies cover plug procedures, and about 6/10 of those people will be diagnosed with SDS sometime during their life, and in some cases, at birth. While it's not generally accepted to perform the procedure on children, there have been exceptions in history.