The Institute for the Future (IFTF), an independent non-profit research organization, has launched a new research platform composed of Massively Multiplayer Forecasting Games (MMFGs). MMFGs are collaborative, open-source simulations of imagined future scenarios.
Designed to address real world problems by harnessing the wisdom of crowds, IFTF's new MMFG platform launches with multiple games this fall that invite diverse global groups of people to contribute to futures research through games. Unlike predictions markets where answers fall within a finite range of outcomes, the Institute has created MMFGs to gain insight into situations where the outcome is unknown.
"People are tired of feeling helpless about their future — and there's a lot of uncertainty right now. The introduction of this new platform for research and problem solving gives people a sense of agency and control in preparing for their future," said Marina Gorbis, executive director of IFTF. "As a leading force of innovation in forecasting methodologies, we realized that creating a truly open and collaborative environment for people to imagine, plan for, and ultimately built the future could better serve our clients and the community."
Each MMFG's backstory is defined by a unique set of "future parameters" culled from the IFTF's forecast research. These future scenarios introduce new technologies, discoveries, and social phenomenon likely to develop in the next 10 to 25 years. Players document their personal reactions to the scenario and are asked to imagine and record how their families, local communities, or their extended social networks might respond to the game scenarios. Encouraged to build Web sites, produce blogs and wikis, upload podcasts and video, players will persuasively record, discuss, and debate the details of how they imagine their own personal futures might play out within the game parameters.
In a related press release, IFTF today announced the world's first MMFG — Superstruct ( http://www.superstructgame.org/). Set in 2019, Superstruct asks players to imagine and help find solutions to five "super-threats" looming over the population — including global food shortages, crippling pandemics, super-hackers derailing public infrastructure, mass homelessness and a global fuel war. Developed by IFTF researchers Jane McGonigal, Kathi Vian, and Jamais Casico, Superstruct aims to harness the strategic thinking and creativity of its players to find plausible solutions to potential real-life problems.
"Massively multiplayer forecasting games is not just a new tool for forecasting, but also a continuation of IFTF's efforts to make forecasting more public, more inclusive, and more experiential," says Howard Rheingold, social media expert and author of Smart Mobs. "A forecasting game is a kind of simulation, a kind of scenario, a kind of teleconference, a kind of artifact from the future — and more — that enlists the participants as "first-person forecasters."
IFTF will launch three additional forecasting games this year: a game in partnership with United Cerebral Palsy simulating a future reality of caring, a game around earthquake simulation in collaboration with the Art Center College of Design's Design Matters program, and finally, "X2" which will convene a wide variety of distinguished participants from the worlds of science and technology to contribute to the collective knowledge of the future.