Creating positive stories of the future: Seeds of Good Anthropocenes Game
WIOMSA Special Session
One of the methods that the Good Anthropocenes team is employing to collect “seeds” is by soliciting them from specific communities of research and practice around the world, and the aim of this special session was to reach out to the WIOMSA community for some of their ideas about existing initiatives, projects, networks etc. that they think should be included in our database. After introducing the project, session participants were then asked to break into groups and discuss their own ideas of what a ‘seed’ of a good Anthropocene might be. This resulted in a lively discussion and new ‘seeds’ were added to our database as participants either went online to fill in our form or else filled in a ‘character sheet’ that they would use in playing the ‘Seeds of Good Anthropocenes Game’. The game is being developed to create novel scenarios of a ‘good’ future using the ‘seeds’ that have been contributed to the database.
The basic premise of the game is that most of the participants fill in a character sheet, which consists of a ‘seed’ i.e. an existing project/initiative/network/technology that they believe could have a positive impact on the future. Participants are then tasked with forming coalitions with other character seeds to see if they can build alliances to address the problems of the Anthropocene. There are 2 smaller groups of people who in the meantime create 2 scenarios of what kind of pressures the world will be facing in the Anthropocene as well as what the dominant social paradigm will be. In the WIOMSA session, the Social paradigm that the seed characters found themselves in was a world where the population had skyrocketed to 14 billion people and China had replaced the USA as the dominant super power, both culturally and economically. The Anthropocene challenges were defined by that group as high rates of sea-level rise and the disappearance on small island states as well as a high rate of biodiversity loss. The seed characters recombined their ideas in some interesting ways and ended up with 4 coalitions and a ‘stand-alone’ idea that was called the ‘mind-seed’ of using impact to determine research funding. The other coalitions included one focussed on a resource use mobile app, another on Black Solider Fly (BSF) technology for converting waste, one emphasised the importance of community resource management and the last was about using the combination of magnetic power and friction from people walking to generate energy. As each coalition presented their combined ideas to the Anthropocene and Social Paradigm groups, these each gave the coalition a mark out of 10 for how well they were able to address the challenges of the future. Using a D-20 die, the coalition then rolled to see whether they survived in the future or not. The higher their initial score, the more likely they are to succeed, but there is still an element of uncertainty because they needed to roll a number that is either equivalent or lower than their combined score. I.e. if there combined score was 16 (e.g. 8 and 8), then they needed to roll a 16 or lower (4/5 probability of success), but if their combined score was only 10 (e.g. 4 and 6), then they only have a 50% probability of success- that is of rolling a 10 or below.
After seeing which coalitions won and lost, the group then discussed what stories could explain the presence of some seed coalitions in the future and not others and these stories become the alternative scenarios! The explanation for why some initiatives with low scores survived and why some with higher scores failed made for a lively debate. This was a highly interactive session and a lot of fun was had by all. There were also interesting contributions made to the project’s database and it was good to test-run the game as it is still in its prototype phase.