Superstruct is a game developed in 2008 jointly by Kathi Vian, Jamaris Casicio and Jane McGonigal. It was based on the hypothetical scenario of the catastrophic collapse of Homo Sapiens in 2042, within 23 years from 2019 when the game begun.
The game main inspiration was the report Superstruct Ten – Year Forecast by the Institute for the Future. The reports describe economic, social and environmental challenges which are new for business, governments, social organizations, etc. In 2008 the main question of the report was: What is the future for human organizations? Hence, it was an inspiration for the game developers to carry out collaborative simulation on this problem. The aim was to develop a revolutionary forms of cooperation, coordination and co-creation of ordinary people.
The name “Superstruct” means “to build over or upon another structure to erect upon a foundation”.
It’s not so much about creating something bigger, but about transcending the limits of what exists, growing in strategic and inventive ways. In principle, the relationships between the superstructures have to be flexible.
The game was a collaborative experiment. It lasted six weeks. This massively multiplayer forecasting game was a project open to absolutely everyone. It diagnosed and put the call on real threats and problems named superthreats. They emerged from the collision of environmental, economic and social risks. This included five key themes: “Quarantaine” (protection of health and pandemic disease), “Ravenous” (food safety), “Power Struggle” (energy), “Outlaw Planets” (security in globally networked society) and “Generation Exile” (issues of refugees and migrants). As a result, most of the audience regarded SuperThreats as extreme-scale challenges, the challenges facing humanity.
The aim was to inspire the players to consider previously unthinkable ideas to create a completely new solutions, mutually learning from each other and to achieve measurable success. Players have to work together. Each year of the “survival horizon” was a milestone in the game. They gained points from 0 to 100 during the entire game. Survivability points showed personal development rather than the result of competition. The game was grounded in reality. It was a real play not a role play. Therefore, the players began to imagine themselves in 2019 in the face of impending disaster. The first step was to fill out a personal profiles of survivability. It included a set of their own resources, skills, and abilities relevant to the situation.
The second step was to build the superstructure, a collaborative network that’s built on top of existing groups and organizations.
By definition, the superstructure combined two existing communities or groups; took a big problem to solve it; had unique resources of members; and was fundamentally new. Players received detailed instructions on how to build the superstructures. They could use all kind of groups (family, neighborhood, corporate, NGO, church, online communities, etc.). After joining the group they shared their ideas in a form of the Wiki article, according to a specified form. Then they encouraged others to continue the work on a solution. If the contribution was significant and the solution fundamentally new they could receive more survivability points. 900 out of nearly 9,000 players won the maximum number of points.
The materials published by the moderators of the game were the foundation for the players. Each superthreat preceded a video trailer explaining the problem. Regular news and the report of the year 2019 could explain the situation arising out of the describing superthreats and dilemmas. Participants created 550 valuable solutions presented in a form of articles, photos, videos, blogs, podcasts, posts on Facebook and Tweets. There were proposals such as harvesting clothes for solving the energy problem and gumball machines offering food for free.
Described superstructures have resulted in the creation of the Superstructure The Whole Catalog, which is still available on superstruct.wikia.com.
After the game, the authors started the deeper research of collected data and players activities. After a half of a year they published Superstructuring the Next Decade and Superstruct Strategy Cards – visualizations in the form of maps of the superstructs ecosystem. They resulted in three scenarios for the next 50 years. Not only did the players played collectively, they were learning in practice and exceeded the expectations of the creators.
The described game can be used in many areas such as previously unrecognized water problems. Most notewothy, it is mindful of the vision of the future, not only at the level of the abstract governmental or non-governmental organizations, but in the life of the ordinary people. The game gives the chance to take advantage of the resources by the number of people scattered around the world. This acts as a kind of a crowdsourcing education and development, but also as a research tool allowing to draw conclusions from the behavior and substantive contribution of participants. In conclusion, the formula is very open and universal.
(Illustrations from superstruct.wikia.com)