My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Addicted to inventing the future

I'm addicted to a new game called Superstruct. It's a "massively multiplayer" forecasting game. Sort of like a role-playing game, Superstruct is set in 2019 and concerns five "superthreats" that together weaken humanity enough to make our survival outside of the century unlikely. But you aren't playing as a superhero or a zombie: you're playing as you--or as you will be, in 2019.

Created by The Institute for the Future, Superstruct is more than a game. It's a collaborative problem-solving exercise. And it's an experiment. I learned about it from this week's episode of Spark, where Nora Young interviews Jane McGonigal, the game designer. I was immediately intrigued. The goal of the game is to create possible solutions for the likely threats of our near future. It's designed to be realistic. While making accurate predictions isn't always possible, the game gives us scenarios extrapolated from humanity's current global situation. Watch the videos for each superthreat; they sound very plausible.

As McGonigal explains, the game's serious. It's designed to get people to think about issues we might not otherwise consider in our daily lives. By focusing on the environment as a game, one in which people are rewarded for their efforts and participation, the IFTF is drawing upon a whole pool of people who might not otherwise provide input.

I think about the future and possible solutions to problems all the time. But I'm not always in a position to effect change or even necessarily make my voice heard. And I love hearing the ideas of other people, not only on what the future will be like, but what we can do about it. Superstruct was made for me!

The website itself suffers from several design flaws and technical issues that make me less inclined to participate. However, I've joined the game, even created my own superstruct. The game only runs until November 17, at which point it will be frozen and archived for future reference. So if you're interested, don't wait. Join now and start inventing a better future.

Oh, almost forgot: following the lead of other SEHIs, I also have created a Twitter account for my 2019 self.