Our world is in deep trouble, and as the danger mounts, the Institute for the Future‘s Ten-Year Forecast team and Dr. Jane McGonigal have a new mission for you! IFTF recently announced Superstruct, “the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game.” Scheduled to begin on September 22, 2008, Superstruct is expected to run for six weeks. The human race has only 23 years left, and it’s up to you to save us! The countdown begins in 2019.
Dr. McGonigal is no stranger to games that use future forecasting as a design element. She helped develop World Without Oil, a game that asked players to imagine and document their lives during an oil shock. Like World Without Oil, Superstruct will ask players to project themselves into the year 2019, at a time when a supercomputer simulation dubbed “GEAS” has predicted that the human race has a survival horizon of 23 years. GEAS, or the “Global Extinction Awareness System,” has pinpointed five “super-threats” that may bring about the collapse of human civilization as we know it. (Perhaps incidentally, a “geas” is also a vow or binding, often magical or supernatural, that is difficult or impossible to ignore or cast off.)
What does the name “Superstruct” mean, and what does it tell us about the goals of the game? According to the game’s FAQ, “superstructing” refers to the building of new structures on top of old structures. The problems uncovered in 2019 indicate that the existing structures – social, commercial, environmental, etc. – are not enough to support the survival of the human race. Superstruct asks players to work towards building new structures and finding new solutions to overcome the “super-threats” identified by the GEAS.
“This is a game of survival, and we need you to survive” states IFTF’s mission briefing. Rather than simply projecting or predicting the future, Superstruct aims to “invent the future” through player contributions, survival stories, strategies, and more. “Bring what you know and who you know,” IFTF’s Superstruct FAQ invites, “and we’ll all figure out how to make 2019 a world we want to live in.”
While we wait for September, IFTF has invited players to get a head start on the game by sending a description of their future selves and their lives in 2019 to email@example.com. Players’ responses will be posted on the Superstruct blog throughout the summer.