Wednesday, November 19, 2008

These Games are Experience Grenades

Just Do It
Originally uploaded by What What.
Okay, I had a revelation.

Games like Superstruct and The Lost Sport and World Without Oil and Reverse Scavenger Hunts and Tombstone Hold 'Em and SF0 missions and The Go Game are "experience grenades".

That's a new term. I throughly Google-checked it.

Experience grenades: You play them, and that's like pulling the pin on the grenade. Nothing has to happen right away. Nothing has to change or be solved right away. Then, you wait. It's later -- an hour later, a day later, a week later, a month later... it goes off in your head, like the delayed explosion of a grenade.

You realize: You've learned something. Your cognitive patterns are different. Your view of the possibilities in the world around you has changed. Your sense of your own potential is changed. You're ready for something you didn't even know was coming. You understand something intuitively that seems alien or confusing to others

The thing is: This doesn't necessary happen DURING the game. During the game, you might not believe the game is working. in the best case scenario, you might think you're JUST having fun. Worse, the game might seem silly. You don't trust the design, it seems to be asking things of you that you don't naturally want to do. Or it might seem abstract -- what's the practical takeaway? IOr even worse, it might seem wonky or arbitrary or broken from your POV.

But it's working. If you're playing, the pin has been pulled. If you're really participating and immersed in the game, the work is happening in your brain. It just is. I've seen it again and again. The experience happens now, the payoff comes later.

Sometimes I know what the payoff will be, sometimes I just trust that a good game will produce something interesting. And the best thing that can happen in a game community is for players to trust that something interesting will happen, and to play as if it's an experience grenade, rather than instant satisfaction.

That's a strange thing to say about a game -- something we play to produce in-the-moment fun. But some games are fun later. They just are. Like trying adventures you have that you hate at the moment but looking back they are the adventures of your life, the stories you cherish, the bonds you made and the way you discovered who you could be.

Yes, that's a different kind of fun, a different kind of payoff. But games can be that, and it feels different in the moment than immediate and obvious fun (like Rock Band or pinatas).

I see a new class of trusted game designers who are like personal trainers. The trainer tells you to do something, and you do it -- even if it HURTS! Even if it isn't fun in the moment! And the benefits come later. Not necessarily during. You trust the trainer's process and you do it to be a better person and a happier person in the long run.

There are a few designers that I trust like this. Simon Johnson, who made the Comfort of Strangers and Hip Sync. The SF0 designers. Kati London at AreaCode. If they make it, I know I can show up and play it and I will have an experience that explodes later in my mind and stays with me. I trust them and don't care what they want me to do. I know they have a design process that works and that they're tring to make people happier and more aware of the possibilities in the world around them. And I am trying to be that kind of trusted designer myself to as many people as possible.

So I thank people who show up to play my games and trust the process. People who played Superstruct -- I know that experience grenade will be going off literally for months and years to come. We've already celebrate how much we've achieved during the game - -but the real effects will unfold for years. That's just how they work. That's just how they're designed.

Someday I hope game designers really are seen as trusted personal trainers, and that we have the chance to take people through proven processes that pay off in the long run. More gamesight, a surprising social safety net and support system, a more engaging environment, a higher quality of life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Special Mission: Inventing the Future! UPDATED with 300 micro-forecasts


At our Fall 2008 Technology Horizons Conference, we crowd-sourced five questions (via Twitter, blogs, email, and SMS) about the Blended Realities that we will likely all be living in by 2019.

We received over 300 micro-forecasts in less than 24 hours. Here are the massively collaborative results! (Posted in order of how many contributions were made -- the future of society won in a landslide!)

The future of SOCIETY: Now that it is 2019, how do you share your feelings?
The future of HEALTH: It's 2019. Describe your experience with health care.
The future of FOOD: In 2019, how do you decide what is fordinner?
The future of SECURITY: In 2019, who defines your identities, and who governs them?
The future of ENERGY: In 2019, what are you energy sources for your mobile, home and business life? How are they advantageous? Disadvantageous?


We're competing to invent the future! PLEASE JOIN OUR GAME!

At 5 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday November 18, 2008, this blog post was updated with the following five questions about the year 2019. Each question is posed by a different forecasting team at the 2008 Blended Reality conference at the Institute for the Future. Each team is competing to collect the most answers, and the most interesting examples, from the most diverse community possible.

PLEASE JOIN OUR GAME! Answer one, answer two, or more BEFORE 12 NOON PACIFIC TIME WED NOV 19, 2008.Update: TIME'S UP! 30,000 words worth of ideas received in 19 hours!!! Results will be posted soon on ... stay tuned!


You are invited to post your reply to one, two, or more of the questions in the comments.

We're racing to see which future gets the most replies, as well as the most INTERESTING replies, in just 19 hours!

Please share this post with friends, followers, and colleagues and help us see how much participation bandwidth we can harness in less than one day!

Ask folks to Twitter their reply (using #2019) or to send email reply (to or to paste a blog comment on this page (URL:


Who won top Superstruct Honors from Bruce Sterling, Warren Ellis, Ze Frank, Tim Kring, Jimmy Wales, Chris DiBona, Tim O'Reilly, and more? How many years did we add to our human survival horizon? How many millions of people achieved SUPERSTRUCT awareness? Which celebrity guest showed up live to surprise everyone?* What will happen next to the world of Superstruct we've all created together?

Find out now! Watch this special hour-long Superstruct celebration -- broadcast live on Monday November 17, 2008/2019, and captured and hosted on Ustream.


Free video chat by Ustream

*Okay, it's Tara Hunt. YAY!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

While I await 2008 results, I live in 2019...

Originally uploaded by superstruct2019.

Today is a historic day in America. Many people will vote for the first time in their lives. There will be record turnout in many parts of the country. We are on track to elect a leader that many people (myself included) feel is moving us toward a better way of governing like it matters -- a potentially transformative, once-in-a-lifetime leader.

Since I can only hit refresh on election tracking pages so many times while I wait for exit poll and voting counts, I am channeling my eager anxiousness into Superstruct today.

In addition to the 450 active discussions that you can comment on, and the 777 (lucky number!) stories that you can browse and rave, there are currently 500 ideas to change the world in the Superstructure database. While many have the ring of the familiar, employing popular 2008 ideas for saving the world, many are also eye-popping, mind-expanding ideas I literally never heard of, thought of, or imagined before.

So I'm working my way systematically through every single Superstructure today (it's easy, just clicking through the sidebar working my way backwards from 500 to 1), joining and editing every single Superstructure I can make a meaningful comment on. When I come across one that is a new idea I've never heard of before, I join and add an idea or ask a question even if I'm not sure how exactly I could help -- because I want to propel the strange new idea forward.

I hope some of you will join me today. As we change the world in 2008, and we can also get a head-start on the problems that are going to take more than one historic day to solve. Some problems will take years to solve, and that's why we're getting a head start on 2019 today.

I know that helping to develop someone else's superstructure can feel like an intimidating mission, but it's really quite easy and you can develop quite a rhythm. You don't have to add solutions -- even just asking smart questions is a huge contribution.

I'm loving right now:

I Voted in 2008 Hacking the democratic process to have perpetual feedback

Catalog of Feedback Failures How to make better decisions

Think fast. Slow Down. Reintroducing regular days of fast

Speculative Culturesmithing "We can rebuild that culture for you wholesale"

Government, Inc. Better services for discerning citizens

The Dewey Decimal Human Organic Taxonomy Project Celebrating and classifying our differences, one digit at a time -- for better interaction and collaboration and alliances

Stop Being in the Wrong Place The transit problem becomes a stasis problem

The Global Village - A third place for refugee women where YOU live. it takes a village in your city to raise the world

The Esoteric Pony Express Shop and swap until you drop, via slightly absurd methods!

Also loving ReDS Air+:

The process of helping these and other superstructures develop is really simple. And we could REALLY use your help!

1. Register if you haven’t yet:

Log in if you have:

2. Go to the superstructures
That's the green button on the upper righthand side of the screen -- or just paste the URL

3. Scroll through the sidebar, raving, joining, and editing!

3. JOIN! It (orange button)

4.Go back to the superstructure and click EDIT next to one of the sections (“HOW THIS SUPERSTRUCTURE WORKS” e.g. or "DISCUSS THIS SUPERSTRUCTURE") and type your ideas/advice/questions! Sign your edit like this – POSTED BY [username]

So what do you say? After you've done your part in 2008, help me do our part in 2019!