The year is 2019, and the world is caught in the grips of several SuperThreats, fighting for it’s very survival – but the citizen/players of this world aren’t taking it lying down. They’re creating survival plans, researching the SuperThreats, searching for allies, and making SuperStructures – plans and organizations created to survive, and combat, the SuperThreats – and in the end, helping to save the world!
Such is the premise of Superstruct , the new “massively multiplayer forecasting game” by the Institute for the Future (IftF), an “independent, nonprofit research group with over 40 years of forecasting experience”. The game’s Director of Game Research & Development is a familiar name to the ARG-Faithful: Jane McGonigal, fresh off her “Find The Lost Ring” success. With SuperStruct, the IftF gives players a possible scenario of what life is like in the year 2019, and players tell them how they’re coping, surviving, or even thriving, in that world.
So far, the players are doing just that – via blogs, wikis, discussions, they are creating their future personas and shaping the world of 2019. There are a lot of players participating in the shaping – 127 “Super-Empowered Hopeful Individuals” (or SEHIs) in the first hour, and almost 1000 in the first 24 hours after launch. The site experienced a brief outage, which was restored in a matter of hours, and more than 1900 players had signed up by Day 2. At last count, 4481 players have registered.
Surviving in IftF’s 2019 isn’t easy. The 5 SuperThreats are daunting – Quarantine (of people infected with a contagious respiratory disease), Ravenous (hunger caused by widespread food shortages), Outlaw Planet (hackers and criminals causing major disruption in vital networks and the political process), Generation Exile (natural disasters forcing people to migrate seeking refuge), and Power Struggle (conflicts between the oil-rich countries against alternative energy sources). It is the task of the SEHIs to form Superstructures in order to combat and survive the global threats. So far, the SEHI’s *are* surviving, and apparently very successfully. In the 10 days since Superstruct launched, players have added 5 years to our survival horizon.
There is a mild competitive aspect to the game as well – players can earn “badges” by completing tasks and missions in relation to the Threats. Winning badges and other recognitions can lead to several honors, which will be selected and awarded by an A-list of celebrities, such as Tim Kring (Heroes), Warren Ellis (comic and Science Fiction author), and Ze Frank (Internet comedian).
What’s it all for? Besides being plain good fun, at the end of its six-week run, the IftF will release the official “Superstruct Report,” detailing insights gained and best tactics discovered for surviving future threats and creating superstructures. The report is expected to be released in April 2009 and will be emailed to all registered players. Even after the official game is over, the Superstruct site will remain live and open in archival form, for players to share their accomplishments with friends and family.
So, think you have what it takes to survive in the harsh world of 2019? Think the future needs what you have to offer? You have about 4 weeks to prove it, so get going! Superstruct is scheduled to end its run on November 17, so get in there and save the world!