Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

Superstruct: How to invent the future by playing online games

Jane McGonigal
Institute for the Future
About the game:

Visit the on-line game at it's site: and participate if you want. Superstruct is the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game. By playing the game, you’ll help chronicle the world of 2019--and imagine how we might solve the problems we'll face. Because this is about more than just envisioning the future. It’s about making the future, inventing new ways to organize the human race and augment our collective human potential.

Q: Why should I play Superstruct?
A: Here are some of favorite reasons: Because you’re curious about the future, because you want to make friends and collaborators all over the planet, because you want to learn how to become a future forecaster, and because you want to change the world.
Q: What does “superstruct” mean?
Su`per`struct´ v. t. 1.To build over or upon another structure; to erect upon a foundation.

Superstructing is what humans do. We build new structures on old structures. We build media on top of language and communication networks. We build communities on top of family structures. We build corporations on top of platforms for manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. Superstructing has allowed us to survive in the past and it will help us survive the super-threats.

Q: Who can play Superstruct?
Everyone! The more players, the better the collective forecast.
Q: How do I play Superstruct?
A: Superstruct is played on forums, blogs, videos, wikis, and other familiar online spaces. We show you the world as it might look in 2019. You show us what it’s like to live there. Bring what you know and who you know, and we’ll all figure out how to make 2019 a world we want to live in.
Q: Who is making Superstruct?
A: Superstruct is being developed by the Ten-Year Forecast team at the Institute for the Future, a not-for-profit think tank based in Palo Alto, California. Project leads include TYF director Kathi Vian, blogger and futurist Jamais Cascio, and game designer Jane McGonigal.
Q: When can I play Superstruct?
A: The game starts October 6, 2008, and it will last for six weeks. Top Superstructure Honors will be given out by our celebrity game masters’ favorite superstructures at the end of the game, on November 17.
About the talk:

Jane McGonigal, PhD takes play seriously. She is the director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future, where she studies how the games we play today might change the way we do real work and live our real lives in the coming decade. She has spent the past year developing a new platform at IFTF: massively multiplayer forecasting games, which aim to apply crowdsourcing theory and mass collaboration strategies to imagine and engineering a best-case scenario future. The first version of the platform -- a game called Superstruct -- launched October 6, 2008. Her talk will explore the theory behind MMFGs and the design principles of Superstruct -- and reveal the most interesting insights from the first 10 days of live gameplay!


There is no downloadable version of the slides for this talk available at this time.

About the speaker:

In addition to her work at IFTF, Jane is the founder of Avant Game and has designed numerous award-winning games, most recently The Lost Ring, in which she invented a new sport for the Summer 2008 Olympics, and World Without Oil, a collaborative simulation -- or historical pre-enactment -- of a global oil shortage. Her academic research includes articles on how to design games that create collective intelligences, how to architect massively-scaled community, and how to develop scoring algorithms that motivate collaboration.

Contact information:

Jane McGonigal