Experimental Futuring through Serious Gaming

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Experimental futuring is a niche in futures studies that is increasingly gaining attention. Futures studies can experiment with applying methods that are not frequently used. Various combinations of different methods, both qualitative and quantitative, can be tested. Experiencing the future(s) can also be achieved through serious gaming. Serious gaming in futures studies means playing a game that has a societally important goal – challenge to be tackled from the futures orientated point of view. The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is a pioneer in serious gaming in our field. In 2013 they launched a game “Catalysts for Change” where the goal was no less than “finding the ways out of poverty”. I enjoyed participating in this game. Director of Game R&D at IFTF, Jane McGonical applaudes a gameful mindset. She claims that gaming channels positive attitude and collaboration in a real world context. At our conference on Thursday afternoon we are experimenting with a CLA (Causal Layered Analysis) game to elaborate on Four Transformative Energy Scenarios of an ongoing NEO-CARBON Energy Project.

If you have an open gameful mindset and interest in this topic, please register for this experimental game session. We will work in small groups on scenarios that depict a world of renewable distributed energy and peer-to-peer organisations in the year 2050. The developer of the method, Professor Sohail Inayatullah, will give an introductory talk, moderate the groups and comment on the results. We will have a group for each of the scenarios, going through the four CLA layers: litany, systemic cause, worldview and metaphor, and you can choose a role for yourself.

The number of participants in the game is limited. If you are interested in participating in the CLA session, please look at the page and indicate which scenario group you would like to work in. The scenarios are summarised below. The game is on!

1. Radical Startups

Photo: http://www.e-architect.co.uk/images/jpgs/barcelona/fab_lab_house_p200710
Photo: http://www.e-architect.co.uk/images/jpgs/barcelona/fab_lab_house_p200710

Society is business-oriented, but economy is driven by a multitude of small-scale startups known for their “radical” values and approaches. Their selling point is promising to do societal and environmental good. Environmental problems are solved first and foremost commercially. Businesses are drivers of new, deep-ecologically oriented lifestyles as well as new work practices emphasising bottom-up approaches and self-expression.

2. Value-Driven Techemoths

Photo: © Apple
Photo: © Apple

Peer-to-peer approaches are common, but they are practiced within large corporations. These “techemoths” represent the Silicon Valley vision of emancipation, creativity and open source. The vision is, however, somewhat self-contradictory. Techemoths cherish the “libertarian” hacker ethos, but at the same time form totalities that confine their employees tightly within corporate walls. Markets take care of environmental issues. Techemoths invest in ambitious energy & technology projects.

3. Green DIY Engineers


The world has faced an ecological collapse. Engineer-oriented citizens have organized themselves as local communities to survive. Environmental problems are solved locally, with a practical mindset. Nation states and national cultures have more or less withered away. As global trade has plummeted, communities have to cope with mostly low-tech solutions

4. New Consciousness

Photo: http://www.wired.com/2014/11/thierry-cohen-darkened-cities/
Photo: http://www.wired.com/2014/11/thierry-cohen-darkened-cities/

An ecological crisis, “World War III” and ubiquitous ICTs have led to a new kind of consciousness and worldview altogether. Values of deep ecology have become the norm. People do not conceive themselves as separate individuals, but deeply intertwined with other humans and as parts of nature. Phenomena are conceptualized and understood from a systems-oriented worldview, which sees “everything connected to everything else” – as parts of a single, global system. “Society” is organised as an open global collaboration and sharing of resources and information.

Sirkka Heinonen

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