Tag: superstruct

Dr. Jane McGonigal Featured in BusinessWeek’s “Innovation” Section

janemcgonigal.jpgBusinessWeek’s November 10th “Innovation” special report features none other than Dr. Jane McGonigal, the Institute for the Future‘s Director of Games Research and Development. Dr. McGonigal is known for her work on Microsoft’s Halo promotion, “I Love Bees”, the award-winning “World Without Oil” game, “Find the Lost Ring” and her current project, “Superstruct”. In her article, “Jane McGonigal’s Brave New Worlds”, BusinessWeek’s Innovation Department editor Reena Jana gives an overview of Superstruct and its goals, as well as insight into how information gathered through Superstruct’s scenarios will be used once the game is concluded.

In a short video embedded in the article, Dr. McGonigal answers five questions about Alternate Reality Games. The questions:

  • Can you define exactly what an ARG is?
  • Can you give more insight into the collaboration skills of “signal/noise management” and “multicapitalism”?
  • Are ARGs more affordable and more efficient than expensive digital graphics and virtual worlds?
  • How will “Superstruct” serve as a real-world tool for companies and individuals?
  • Are you still working on promotional games?

Always looking for ways to turn real-life tasks into games, Dr. McGonigal set her video camera to stop recording at the six minute mark in her attempt to answer all five questions in five minutes. At the end of her video, she asks viewers to give her feedback on the interview and help her earn level-up points for her personal gamer stats by visiting +1me.com.

SuperStruct: It’s The End Of The World As We Know It… And We Feel Fine!

superstruct.gifThe 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!

Superstruct: (Re)Building Our Future

structure.jpgOur 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 protected]. Players’ responses will be posted on the Superstruct blog throughout the summer.