'Superstruct': Imagine You In 2019

Massively multiplayer online (MMO) games are increasingly popular these days. They all ask players to assume a new identity whether it's a sword-fighting warrior (e.g. "Warhammer Online") or simply an "alternate you" (e.g. "Second Life"). Among other companies, just this week game executives meeting in Japan announced that both Sony and Microsoft will get into the act by providing virtual worlds for owners of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. But a new game from designer Jane McGonigal seeks to be quite different. With "Superstruct" McGonigal wants players to imagine their actual self in the year 2019. It's all part of a larger project for the Institute for the Future that aims to see where we're all headed and how we can handle the challenges.

McGonigal (who was named a 2006 Young Innovator by MIT) says the game is relatively straightforward but might require some instruction for newbies. (A video clip on the main "Superstruct" page should help many players get started.) The idea, says McGonigal, is to forecast what problems the world might be facing in ten years and tap into the global connectedness of gamers to consider possible scenarios and solutions. But she really wants player to make it personal and envision THEIR situation in 2019. Unlike other MMOs "Superstruct" doesn't have a traditional 3-D environment. Instead, it spans the Web itself with various sites, blogs and groups. It even has a different acronym: MMFG (massively multiplayer forecasting game).

I've talked with McGonigal on several occasions and she is truly a pioneer in the games space. Worth checking out but don't procrastinate -- it's only live for six weeks. A report on the "Superstruct" project from the Institute for the Future is expected in the spring.

Until next time (hopefully before 2019), stay connected!